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Another Aussie Victory in Kentucky
Lexington, KY, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com

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Clayton Fredericks (AUS) Ben Along Time
It was a bittersweet ending for Kristin Bachman and Gryffindor at this year's Rolex Kentucky three-day event presented by Farnam when the overnight leader was eliminated midway through the show jumping for missing fence nine on the show jumping course. Since second-placed Heidi White Carty and Northern Spy had already pulled a rail, Bachman's error opened the door for Australian Clayton Fredericks to win the event with his World Games partner Ben Along Time.

Phillip Dutton placed second - a placing he has repeated about six times - riding Connaught, owned by Bruce Duchossois, followed by Karen O'Connor and the crowd's favorite, Theodore O'Connor, owned by P. Wynn Norman. Belgian rider Karen Donckers finished fourth aboard Michel Pellaux's Gazelle de la Brasserie.

Fredericks, who was competing in Kentucky for the first time, is the reigning two-time World Cup champion, having won the World Cup Final in 2006 with Nullarbor and in 2005 with Ben Along Time, a 16.2 hand, 12-year-old Irish gelding owned by Mr. And Mrs. Pam McAuley of Hong Kong, China. He and Ben Along Time also claimed individual silver at the WEG in Aachen last summer.

"I can't say enough about the whole experience," said Fredericks of his trip to Kentucky. "Obviously I won, but even without that it was great." He continued, "When I watched the first lot of show jumping I thought I'd take the first couple of rails. Ben Along Time is a fantastic horse and felt brilliant."

Explaining his warmup strategy, he said, "I jumped only a few rails before show jumping. Wayne Roycroft wondered why I didn't jump more but we have worked together enough that he trusts me. The horse tries his guts out - he has that star quality, so it helps."

Dutton, who changed from Australian citizenship to US Citizenship only recently, since his wife and children are American and he has been based in Pennsylvania for so long, was ironically the highest-placing American at this year's Rolex. He said, "I had mixed emotions seeing the Aussie guys helping Clayton - it felt strange, but I am proud to be riding for America as well. I'm also glad for Connaught - it was his highest placing so far."

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Karen O'Connor (USA) riding the pony Theodore O'Connor
Even though Dutton is considered an American, we all know he is still an Aussie too - and the Australians seem to be dominating this sport, not least of all at Rolex, where Andrew Hoy won last year on Master Monarch. Asked about this trend, Clayton Fredericks said, "I think that Australia is a huge country and we don't have a huge population, but it's a rugged place and to survive you have to be a real go-getter."

Theodore O'Connor brought the house down with his double clear round, springing over the jumps that were taller than he was like it was no big deal. O'Connor said that she has applied for the Pan-Am Games this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and that she would be honored if he is selected for the squad competing there. The little chestnut is mostly thoroughbred, with 1/8 Arabian and 1/8 Shetland pony breeding, and measures just over 14.1 hands. Having won the CIC*** at The Fork in North Carolina just weeks ago, Super Teddy may just have written his own ticket to Rio.

O'Connor said, "I think he is a special horse. He gives everyone hope; he has an amazing work ethic and is a class act but he has no idea he is small. He thinks he's a giant. I am in awe of him - it's a privilege to be a part of that story"

O'Connor has represented the United States at numerous international competitions and expressed her sympathy for Bachman. "There are an infinite number of ways to get yourself eliminated in this sport," she said. "Kristin will never do that again - she is a very talented rider and she will be in that place again soon."

A highlight of this year's competition was also the official retirement from competition of British rider Ian Stark, who retired from team competition four years ago. Stark has competed several times at Kentucky and said that he likes to come back because of the friendly crowds and the good organization of the event. With Badminton just a week away some people might wonder why he chose to retire in the US rather than his native Great Britain, and he said that he felt the Americans would be kinder to him than the British crowd if things didn't go so well. But he had nothing to worry about, with a clear round and only 1.2 time penalties to finish eleventh overall on Full Circle II. Stark commented, "The American public has been fantastic."


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