Sunday, April 26, 2009

Girls RULE!

Let’s hear it for the ladies! I was really hoping a woman would win this year, and I’m tickled to say that not only did a woman win, but she won it on a mare, finishing on her dressage score. DOUBLE female power! Lucinda Fredericks and Headley Britannia are the 2009 Rolex champions.

Close behind were Bettina Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo, the 18 year old gelding that, but for some time penalties in XC, would have taken first.

Buck Davidson finished third on My Boy Bobby, a relative youngster. Bravo to them all!

Once again, the weather was perfect (especially under the roof of the new partially covered stadium!)….breezy and sunny, and we were in the shade!

There were some really interesting options: a straight vertical to the water, or a bent line to the water…then an option to go straight or bend to another vertical. It was interesting to see that the first several riders opted for the straighter approach…but I think the riders who took the bent line to the straight line had a better ride. The course ended on a triple combination (vertical to oxer to vertical) which caught quite a few riders who thought they were done before they were.

I have to say that I’m impressed with the horsemanship I witnessed today. Everyone rode well; it wasn’t raining rails like it has in Rolex past! Kelly Sult and Hollywood had an unexpected refusal at fence three, but she made an admirable recovery, riding the rest of the course like a pro. That was the only stop on course, and one person had five rails, and one had three—and the rest had none, one, or two.

Before the final twenty five riders, we watched those in the upper digits go. Young rider Madeline Blackman on Gordonstown showed us our first clear round, then was so happy she couldn’t figure out which gate to exit the arena from. With a little help from Nigel, she found her way out, with a lot of encouragement from the crowd. I hope we get to see her again!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I LOVE watching Bruce Davidson! He rode Jam clear in his somewhat unorthodox style, and it was obvious that he loved that mare and he loved what he was doing. Bravo for Bruce!

Along those lines, can I just say that watching William Fox-Pitt jump two very different horses was amazing? The man is incredibly tall, but mostly from his waist up! His body fold in such a balanced way that the horses barely seem to know he’s there. Buck Davidson deserved some credit, too; he rode two very different horses, and yet he was able to get from each the best possible performance.

I was surprised that a couple of the horses did some serious “stargazing” before the fences. But the ones who did seemed to get around clearly. Note to self: Looks do NOT equal performance!

It’s sad, but whenever a rail would come down, the crowd would generate an very loud "awwwwww!". It HAS to be distracting for the riders! I guess that’s just part of the game.

Several riders (like Philip Dutton on Woodburn and Selena O’Hanlen on Columbo) had absolutely lovely, balanced rides…and then let down at that last rail. How sad! And a good thing to remember in the future: it’s not over—and you DON’T stop riding—until you’re out of the arena!

Sara Dierks and Somerset II had a really lovely, even ride. I was impressed with the pair. So, too, was I impressed with Allison Springer and Aurthur, who caught a hind leg on a rail over the water, but had a lovely ride but for that.

Poor Tm Lips; after doing so incredibly well in Dressage and XC, he had two rails and two time faults, moving him from fourth to eight. A costly mistake, I fear!

I noticed (after my friend Donna pointed it out to me!) that several of the rails were direct results of riders moving early, ducking, and/or not getting back before the next jump. Again, Rolex has proved to be a good clinic.

A funny note: I was mentioning to Donna how practiced Nigel the announcer seemed to be—he never made a mistake. And only a few minutes after I uttered that, Nigel called Lucinda into the winner’s circle, then had to make her leave, because he really wanted Buck. I guess even perfect Brit announcers CAN make mistakes!

Another wonderful Rolex. Thanks to Larry and Roxanne for welcoming me to their Paris Villa, and to my Rolex bud Donna for coming along once again. Until next year!

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