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Tables Turn at Rolex KY CCI**** Hoy Victorious! ……..Amber Heintzberger Reports from Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, KY – April 30, 2006 – The one sure thing about the 2006 Rolex Kentucky CCI**** presented by Farnam is that it was unpredictable until the very end. With Molly Hooper’s Kiltartan out at the final veterinary inspection, only thirty-four horses came to the show jumping arena this afternoon.
As the top ten riders entered the arena one by one, things got very interesting. Placed eleventh going in, Stephen Bradley and Brandenburg’s Joshua posted a double clear round that left them poised to move into the top ten if anyone made an error. Will Faudree and Antigua, in tenth, jumped clear but two ultimately costly time penalties opened the door for Bradley.
Karen O’Connor and Upstage started out with a steady round and had the crowd gasping when they bounced the rails on the Liverpool, but the jump stayed up. She ran out of luck two fences later and in the end two rails down and one time penalty helped Bradley advance further through the ranks.
Nathalie Bouckaert-Pollard and Westfarthing, no strangers to the top of the leader board at Rolex, also dropped two rails and dropped in the placings. Then Australian Andrew Hoy and Master Monarch entered the arena and had a smooth and steady round with no jumping and no time faults.
Amy Tryon and Woodstock had one rail down, but an otherwise professional looking round that should keep her in the World Equestrian Games Selectors’ good graces. Tryon previously withdrew her other horse, Poggio II, since the selectors told her that it was up to her whether or not to ride him.
She said a bit jokingly, “Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor – anyway, he’s not the most relaxing horse to ride around, so I did breathe a little sigh of relief. But he’s in his stall very angry right now.”
Placed in fourth, California rider Jessica Heidemann and French Twist were poised to grab a top three placing if they went clear, but today was not their day: five rails down plummeted them to a final fifteenth place finish, right outside of the prize money.
Heidi White and Northern Spy held it together under pressure – though White tried a little something new on the last line and sacrificed two rails in the process, giving away her opportunity to win the event should the top two cave under the performance demands.
And indeed both Polly Jackson on Tom Quigley and overnight leader Becky Holder on Courageous Comet saw the rails fly. The crowd was obviously disappointed for Holder, who has yet to claim a four-star victory. But as the realization dawned that Andrew Hoy would become the 2006 winner of the CCI****, the rings of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Hoy! Hoy! Hoy!” rang out across the stadium, a personalized variation on the usual Aussie cheer.
It was something of a homecoming for Andrew Hoy, who first represented Australia at the World Championships at Lexington in 1978 with Davey, where they were eliminated. At the Olympics in Seoul in 1988 he was 9th on Kiwi and in 1992 was a member of the Gold medal team and fifth individually. Riding Darien Powers he was a member of the Gold medal team at Atlanta and was also 11th in the individual competition with Gershwin. Team Gold medalist for the third consecutive Games at Sydney with Darien Powers, he was also Individual Silver medalist with Swizzle In. Together, he and Master Monarch, who is owned by Tom Attwood and Richard Constant, placed ninth at Burghley in 2003. This was his fourth time competing in Lexington.
Hoy said that it was “only about one minute before the last competitor went in the ring that I thought I had a shot at winning.” He acknowledged, “It’s not too often you come from fifteenth after dressage to win a four-star competition!” He also placed ninth on Yeoman’s Point, owned by Craig Gore and Thaya Morgan-Phoenix.
Riders and spectators had a reprieve from the fickle Kentucky weather for a change, as the rain held off until the last horse of the day entered the arena. Unfortunately it literally rained on the parade, and the awards ceremony and victory gallop were a soggy if regal affair. Though the uncovered stands cleared out quickly, a few raindrops didn’t dampen the winning riders’ spirits.
As the top placing American rider, Heidi White is the official winner of the USEF CCI**** Championship. “You can’t ever imagine being second in an event like this,” she said humbly. “Without a doubt my horse was brilliant. I tried a little something at the last, but these things happen. I’ve met Andrew when I had a chance to compete overseas and it was an honor to be second to him.” Regarding her horse she added, “I tried a hackamore today, he is so well broken. We’re on the right track for sure - I hope we can keep that going over the summer.”
Hoy was also appreciative of his victory. “To win here is very special,” he said. “I thought I’d try to finish on my dressage score, wherever that would lead me. Everyone is out there trying all the time and doing a wonderful job. I have to say Master Monarch was fantastic and my groom Karen Hughes is wonderful. Bettina couldn’t be here – we had the tickets booked for her but 24 hours before, decided it was too much. She’s keeping Moonfleet and Mr. Pracatan ready for me to ride at Badminton next week.”
Stephen Bradley remarkably moved up to finish in third place. Commenting on the condition of the horses and the number of up and coming riders at the event, he said, “I think any time the horses come off the course it’s going to play a part in show jumping the next day. Part of being a competitor is knowing how to warm your horse up when they’re a bit sore and tired. The way to learn that is go out and do it. For a lot of riders it was their first four-star this weekend and they had to gain the mileage that some of us already have.”
The fact that eventing fans are looking forward to the FEI Games that will be held in Lexington in 2010 was evidenced by the fact that there were a record 90,748 people in attendance over the weekend. Plans are underway for a new indoor arena and a hotel on the grounds of the Horse Park. But of immediate concern is that now that Rolex is behind us, US team selectors are focusing their attention very closely on the upcoming World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. It was an up and down weekend for many competitors, giving them plenty to think about as we wait for their decision on who will represent the US this summer.
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