09/22/2017 10:11AM

Inaugural Real Rider Cup exceeds expectations

Robin Foster
Kaymarie Kreidel, in the silks of Skeedattle Associates, pilots Trey Bear to a second-place finish in the inaugural Real Rider Cup.

Although Mark Beecher took home the only individual trophy in the inaugural Real Rider Cup at Plantation Field on Sept. 17, collaboration was the theme of the event.

The Real Rider Cup, a jumping exhibition featuring 20 ex-racehorses ridden by 20 racetrack personalities, was born out of a partnership between the Retired Racehorse Project and Plantation Field Equestrian Events, Inc. The goal of that alliance, said RRP President Steuart Pittman, was to raise awareness of the value of off-track Thoroughbreds in second careers and to further the relationship between racing and the sport of three-day eventing.

Plantation Field is located in Unionville, Pa., and many world-class event riders, such as Olympic veteran Phillip Dutton, are based nearby. Dutton and Anita Motion, the wife of Thoroughbred trainer Graham Motion, were two of the creators and organizers of the Real Rider Cup, which provided some spirited entertainment at the lunch break of Plantation Field’s international three-day event last Sunday.

“I underestimated Anita Motion’s and Phillip Dutton’s organizing skills,” said Pittman. “I was shocked by who they got to participate and thrilled by the response from the crowd.”

Beecher, who grew up riding show jumpers in Ireland and became a champion timber rider in the United States, was the first into the ring aboard Feet Included, who had finished second in the show-jumping division of the 2015 RRP Thoroughbred Makeover. They immediately ignited the crowd by blazing over a course of a dozen 2 ½-foot obstacles, laying down a time that would prove unbeatable. Scoring was based on time elapsed, with seconds added for knocking down rails, refusals, or going off course. Feet Included, an 8-year-old gelding by Include out of the Touch Gold mare Fleet and Fancy, is owned by Beecher’s fiancée, Rebecca Walters.

While Beecher took the individual honors, the 20 horse-and-rider duos were also organized into four squads, christened Jockeys, Owners, Trainers, and Veterinarians. Chasing Beecher’s winning time of 49.26 seconds was teammate Kaymarie Kreidel, a former jockey who is now a full-time outrider for the Maryland Jockey Club. Despite wearing a brace on her left knee, the result of a collision with a loose horse at Laurel the day before, she and her own Trey Bear jumped fast and clear, coming in at 51.45. Third place went to Anne Moran (56.11), who represented the Owners but was once an accomplished timber-race rider. She is currently a local Joint Master of Foxhounds and rode one of her hunters, Polite Speed.

Although the Jockeys team took three of the top four spots, the Trainers topped the team standings, led by Leigh Delacour, a former Herringswell Stables assistant now married to Fair Hill-based trainer Arnaud Delacour. Joe Sharp, Sanna Neilson, Tim Keefe, and Chucky Lawrence joined her in collecting blue ribbons. The leading member of the Veterinarians squad was Dr. Stowe Burke, riding 19-year-old Santa’s Playboy, who made it to the Rolex Kentucky four-star, the pinnacle of United States eventing, in 2012.

All riders wore jockey silks representing their sponsors, and the horses sported custom-made saddle towels in the bright blue-and-orange colors of Plantation Field, donated by the Maryland Jockey Club.

“My focus was on keeping it completely Thoroughbred and having them mounted on a Thoroughbred that had raced at least once,” said Anita Motion. “The riders had to be involved in Thoroughbred racing and they had to wear racing silks, which made the whole thing seem perfect.”

The 20 riders were given a goal of attaining $1,000 in pledges, and Motion said that the target of $20,000 had been attained, with several thousand more promised.

She emphasized the group effort that was necessary to pull together a charity event in which so many horses and riders “all showed up together in the right place at the right time,” pointing out that emcee Zoe Cadman flew in for the event, participants traveled from Kentucky, New York, and Virginia, and “some of the horses were loaned so they had to be brought to Plantation on the day.”

In addition to the Real Rider Cup on Sunday, there was a Saturday afternoon demonstration of horses who will appear in the Thoroughbred Makeover in Lexington in October.

“A lot of people were very impressed by the quality and the level of training demonstrated by the eight horses in the Makeover Preview on Saturday, and with prices in the $8,000 to $15,000 range, there were a lot of inquiries from buyers,” said Pittman.

“The horses in the Real Rider Cup were mostly well into their second careers, many after graduating from past Thoroughbred Makeovers,” he added. “So, yes, people in racing, particularly the ones in the Mid-Atlantic region, are coming to understand that the riding side of the horse industry is the key to the futures of their Thoroughbreds. And riders are learning that no horse is more fun to ride than a Thoroughbred that raced.”

Dutton injured in fall

Phillip Dutton, who finished fourth aboard Z in the three-star division of the Plantation Field International Horse Trials on Sept. 17, was injured in a fall Thursday while schooling a young horse. According to a statement from Phillip Dutton Eventing, he suffered a broken clavicle, three broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. He was being monitored at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., and was scheduled to meet with an orthopedist on Friday to establish a plan of care.

Dutton, who won an individual bronze medal in eventing aboard Mighty Nice at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, had been scheduled to compete in a $50,000 arena-eventing class at the Central Park Horse Show on Saturday night in New York City.