It is not uncommon for people to have a list of their favorite things. There’s even a song or two about favorite things. I was recently reminded of one of my favorite horse show classes and thought I would list my favorite horse competitions here for you.
Favorite speed class:
Hands down, my favorite is the 2002 Canada Post Cup at the Spruce Meadows North American with Leslie Howard riding Nick of Diamonds. Imagine a steeplechase sprint race with twists and turns. This is what I wrote at the time: The final contest on Saturday was a speed class, the Canada Post Express (Open Section I), a twisting, turning course set by [Leopoldo] Palacios. Alison Firestone put down the first challenge with an excellent run in 97.13. Beezie Madden hustled Authentic around the course without a flaw, stopping the clock at 93.66, but Spooner and Bradford made quick work of taking the lead with a 93.07 posting and there were only 2 riders left to go. But what a pair to have following you in a speed class! Leslie Howard flew over fences and scooted across the ground in a blur with Nick of Diamonds in an amazing 86.87. Howard, as if to prove that the little grey stallion had more in the tank, with hand raised and a huge grin, opened him up for a flat out sprint on the way back to the gate. Rodrigo Pessoa and Gandini Bianca d’Amaury couldn’t do better than 96.68, settling for 4th place.
Favorite grand prix jumping class:
That would be the last class in the 2003 World Cup Final watching Baloubet du Rouet toy with the courses, bow and flex his neck and even buck due to his exuberance. Here’s what I wrote at the time: Pessoa got a tremendous effort from the Selle Francais stallion, giving at least a foot of air over many of the fences, which cemented him ahead of all others. Nieberg was next, but fence 4 earned him as many faults. Baryard had a chance to redeem herself, but her faults came at the second oxer of the 5A/B combination and she fell into line behind Pessoa. It was all up to Germany’s fair-haired boy, Marcus Ehning, and his chestnut mare [Anka 191]. They were simply faultless, and so it should be with World Cup champions.
Favorite grand prix dressage class:
The 2006 World Equestrian Games with Blue Hors Matine at her competitive best. Here’s what I wrote at the time: The first round produced a few surprises, including the emergence of a young superstar in the form of Blue Hors Matine ridden by Denmark’s Andreas Helgstrand. The 9-year-old Danish Warmblood mare led the way with a score of 76.333%, besting Heike Kemmer (Germany) with Bonaparte, Isabel Werth (Germany) with Satchmo and the reigning World Cup and Olympic champion, Anky van Grunsven (Netherlands) with Salinero. The top 15 from the Special moved forward to the musical kur on Saturday night to the delight of some 40,000 spectators. Seidel, the third rider in the ring, scored an admirable 72.500% riding to the soundtrack of Evita, earning him Є 500 for his 13th place finish. Kemmer scored 78.850%, Helgstrand chalked up 81.500% (silver medal), Werth marked 80.750% (bronze medal), van Grunsven posted an astounding 86.100% (gold medal) and Capellmann came in with 79.900%. Who wasn’t impressed with the 9-year-old dressage mare that was second in the Freestyle?
Favorite barrel race:
That would be a fun run after a combined clinic with former World Champion Lynn McKenzie. One of the horses, a palomino mare, had a tight elbow (on her left side), which caused her to go very wide on her left-turn barrel. Lynn and I worked together to change the pattern for her and how her owner rode her. After a couple of slow practices, the mare figured it out. She figured it out so well in fact that she not only won the jackpot at the end of the clinic, she set the arena record.
Favorite horse race: Even though I considered Zenyatta’s run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, I would have to say that standing at the rail with my client watching his filly run in the Canadian Derby tops that. No, my client’s filly didn’t win the Derby against the boys, but she still fulfilled a dream. Two and a half years earlier my client told me he wanted to buy a weanling filly that could run in the Canadian Derby while we were at a sale in Kentucky. I spotted the dark bay filly some time later and said, “That one.” My client paid $1,700 for her and she went on to be the champion 2-year-old filly and the champion 3-year-old filly in Alberta. Even though she did not win the Canadian Derby, I couldn’t have been happier had she won the filly and mare stakes on Derby day, a race in which she would have been the favorite and many said she would have won handily. She is now a broodmare in Australia.