James Atkinson announced today that he has officially accepted the ride on Martha McDowell’s thirteen year old Selle Francais Gelding Nabouco De Lessay. Nabouco De Lessay, better known as ‘Hugo,” was purchased by ‘The Huge Partnership’, a group comprised of Carolyn Hoffos, Martha McDowell (Nabouco De Lessay’s previous rider), and Sarah Broussard.
McDowell purchased the talented gelding with the help of Sarah Broussard in 2012; he was originally sourced by Fernhill Sport Horses and ridden by Jennifer Wooten through the Advanced level. Since that time, Atkinson has worked with McDowell as a coach and friend, until McDowell decided to sell Hugo in November. At that time, she called Atkinson to see if he knew anyone who could be a potential match.
While James began making phone calls about Hugo, what he did not know was that Carolyn, Martha,
and Sarah were busy with an idea of their own. James had ridden Hugo previously for McDowell after she had suffered an injury in 2014, and together the pair had made an exciting combination – winning the Advanced division at Rebecca Farm in July 2014. With this in mind, McDowell knew that she ideally wanted her horse to go to James if at all possible, and was willing to retain a share of the horse for James to ride him. Sarah Broussard, who has played a monumental role in just about every aspect of the sport of eventing, has known Atkinson for many years and was keen to keep her share in Hugo as well in support of James. This left one remaining share, which Carolyn and Robin Hoffos, who also happen to be James’s in-laws, were excited to obtain. They currently own his 2011 Pan American Games partner Gustav, in addition to recently purchasing several promising young horses on his behalf, and were quick to get on board with the idea of James riding Hugo. Like Broussard and McDowell, The Hoffos family have played a remarkable role in eventing, especially on the west coast, where Carolyn acted on her dream of establishing a world-class event in Ramona, CA, that is now the internationally recognized Copper Meadows.
Atkinson was overwhelmed when he learned about the plan to make Hugo the latest addition to his team, saying, “I am completely humbled that these remarkable people want to support me in achieving my goals. Each of them are good friends of mine, and are truly incredible in what they have done for not only myself, but our sport as a whole. I can not wait to see what Hugo and I are able to accomplish together, and having this group along on that journey will make it all the more special.”
James, who in addition to riding for Team Canada, designs cross country courses across the country, and plans to aim Hugo at a CCI2* in the early part of 2015, with his big goal for the season being to contest the inaugural CCI3* at The Event at Rebecca Farm, where success would have special meaning. “How cool would it be to do well at the first ever Rebecca Farm CCI3*? With it being Sarah’s event and Martha’s home state, it would truly be icing on the cake of an already very special thing,” said James.