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2009 Kentucky Cup
Images by Merri

2009 Kentucky Cup
Images by Merri

2009 Kentucky Cup
Images by Merri

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Merri Stories: Becky Hart || Sue Hedgecock || Cheryl Dell || Tony Benedetti
Pre-Ride Preparations || 2009 Kentucky Cup || 2009 Kentucky Cup Wrap-Up
Heather Reynolds' blog entries

2009 Kentucky Cup Endurance Test Event

Official start list 100 miles
Gate 1 standings 10075 miles
Gate 2 standings 100 75 miles
Gate 3 standings 100 75 miles
Finish Results 100 75 miles
Eliminations 100 75 miles
Standings Official start list 75 miles
Gate 1 standings 75 miles
Gate 3 standings 75 miles
Finish Results
Eliminations 75 miles

First (160km/120km): Danille McGunigal and Gold Raven

First 120km:Shk Majid bin Mohd Al Maktoum on Kangoo d'Aurabelle and Second: Ahmed Salem Ali Sultan Al Sabousi on Bess Ess-Ob

Second (160km/120km):Ellyn Rapp and Berjo Smokey

Third (160km/120km): Janice Worthington and Golden Lightning

Golden Lightning awarded Best Condition Award


Team USA East – Gold Medal

Danielle McGunigal
Dr. Meg Sleeper
Stephen Rojek
Farzad Faryadi

Team Central USA – Silver Medal

Ellyn Rapp
Janice Ann Worthington
Darolyn Butler
Julie Jackson - Biegert

Team Mountain USA – Bronze Medal

Christoph Josef Schork
Suzanne Hayes
Douglas Swingley
Tennessee Mahoney

Vetting In
Warming Up

Photo Galleries

photos by Merri Melde
and Wetter
and Cold

2009 Kentucky Cup Wrap-Up

Thursday October 15 1009

I have to say that the Best Condition judging was quite a disappointment. None of the horses from the 120 km race were seen the morning after the race, when the horses from the 160 km-reduced-to-120 showed, because the UAE and Spanish horses all left Wednesday night after they finished the race. (Incidentally, other foreign horses could not get their passports to leave the stable area until after the BC on Thursday.)

Nobody knew if the 120 km horses 1) didn't show at all, 2) if they showed the night before and one was awarded a prize, or 3) if the 120 km BC was combined with the 160 km. In any case, it would have been nice to see these horses, which looked good when they arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park, and good all during the ride. Phenomenal horses, some of them, and we never saw them again.

Additionally, the actual inspections and trotting out of the 160 km horses at the BC judging was, I must say this, and can think of no other way to put it, conducted like a funeral. Nobody was allowed to clap, whistle, or cheer in any shape or form until after each horse was finished and given the 'Okay All Done' nod, and if anyone mistakenly peeped too soon, officials rushed down the sides of the arena to shush anybody doing so.


2009 Kentucky Cup & North American Team Challenge

Wednesday October 14 1009

Great weather for an endurance race, if you're a duck. On second thought, I didn't see any ducks anywhere around. The rain began just around the start of the 120 km ride at 7:30 AM - and didn't stop all day. Mid-40's and dumping rain most of the morning, then rain and wind, then light rain and wind, then mist and wind, more rain, more wind, and colder, dropping into the upper 30's. The condition of the course - 70% of it over mowed grass - got worse proportionally with the amount of rain: slick, with mud, that only got slicker and deeper as the day wore on.

In the vetting area, under the media and volunteer tents, it was wet - not from falling rain, but from rainwater that seeped up from the ground. Within an hour, footsteps left everything muddy, so that by noon mud was ankle deep everywhere, in the vetting and crewing areas, in the tents. By afternoon I had to walk funny because my shoes threatened to get sucked off at every step. The tracks for the horses were even worse, up to 8 inches of deep mud in some places. A little river formed at the out-timer where horses went out onto loops 3 through 6.

It was truly a test of endurance, for horses and riders, and the crews who got to stand around and freeze while they waited for their riders to come off the course.


Kentucky Cup Pre-Ride Preparations

Tuesday October 13 2009

If your pulse doesn't quicken when you drive into the Lexington, Kentucky, area, along all those immaculate white-fenced farms with gorgeous creatures grazing in those green green bluegrass fields, you probably don't truly have horses in your blood.

Harmonizing with the appropriate state motto, "Kentucky - Unbridled Spirit", Lexington lays claim to the indisputable title "Thoroughbred City" and "Horse Capital of the World". Kentucky's first racetrack was built in 1789, and generations of the world's best Thoroughbred racehorses have graced the bluegrass here. Ever heard of Man O' War? Secretariat?

But even if you're not a Thoroughbred racing fan, it's the home of inexhaustible Horseness: the Rolex Kentucky 3-day Event, endless horse shows, and the Kentucky Horse Park, with its museums and hands-on look at over 40 horse breeds.

And then there's the 2010 World Equestrian Games to be held here, in the Kentucky Horse Park, next year from September 25 to October 10. The test event for the World Endurance Championship would be held on Wednesday October 14th this year, to test the facilities, course, protocols and flow of things for next year's ride. It was also the North American Team Challenge, with riders from the 5 US regions and 2 Canadian regions competing. The Team Challenge was a 100-mile FEI 3* event (160 km, in FEI lingo) and was also open to foreign riders; many riders were here to obtain their COC (Certificate of Completion) as a rider/horse combination to qualify for next year's World Championship (100 miles in under 12 1/2 hours). There was also a 75 mile ride (120 km, in FEI lingo) for those who didn't want or need to ride a hundred miles and just wanted to see most of the course, in the Kentucky Horse Park and over private farms outside the park.

On paper the course looked confusing and complicated, many times crossing over itself and a lot of common trail going both directions, but course designer and event director Emmett Ross almost guaranteed riders wouldn't get lost, as the course was marked "so well," with "thousands of ribbons and signs and markers," and 2000 glow sticks for the night loops.


Tension in the air...

...is how one rider described today.

The young Japanese rider who had a crash near the stables when her horse ran off with her might agree... though I heard she was still planning to ride tomorrow (not sure which gal it was... lots of rumors flying around : )

Grace Ramsey is confident in her team and she's "going for the gold." (You'll see all the teams announced tomorrow). "I've got old age and treachery on my side. I've got 2 pups and 2 old ladies on the team, and I'm due some good luck!"

"It'll be a Thinking Man's Ride," Grace says, "not a Hot Shoe ride." There are a lot of twists and turns and right angles on the course, lots of trails crossing each other and horses will be coming and going. You'll have to pay attention. Emmett Ross says the course is marked well, and there seems to be a surprise on one of the loops, "You'll see it when you get there." Could there be some hidden little mountains out there?

Rain will be a big factor: chance is up to 90% now, and the high will be 44* (the chance of rain has been going up, and the temperature down, during the day). Skip Lightfoot, coach of the Pac South says of the rain, "Bring it on!" He has a couple of horses that will handle it very well. Pac South is the defending gold medal champion, and "we have some big shoes to fill."

Argentineans Miguel Pavolovsky and his son-in-law Pable De Los Heros are happy to be here, riding Cheryl Van Deusen's horses in the 160 km. Argentinean Mercedes Tapia is riding Kathy Brunjes' Theatric; they've been spending a lot of time together today, riding, walking, hanging out and grazing on the bluegrass.

European and World Champion Maria Alvarez is here, riding Sahara, a horse that was second in the Spanish Championship this year, and her husband Jaume Punti is riding Kopal de Cabirat, both in the 160 km.

The UAE and Spanish horses arrived this morning around 8:30, and were the first ones to vet in at 11 AM.

The Tofts are here for Australia, having shipped their own horses over (Penny and 14-year-old daughter Alexandra are riding) for the 160 km, as is this year's co-Quilty winner Matthew Sample on one of Darolyn Butler's horses.

Mustafa Tehrani of India is riding John Crandell's mare LR Jasur Melika; Bettina Nonnenmacher is riding one of Jan Worthington and Grace Ramsey's horses Lu-Nor Soverign in their first 160 km.

I could go on and on... but that gives you a tiny sample.

Much more tomorrow...


Official Test Event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Game

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY-October 7, 2009- On October 14, riders from more than 20 countries will compete in the Kentucky Cup Endurance race, sponsored by Emirates Equestrian Federation, and the official endurance test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games.

Athletes from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Romania, Spain and many other countries are expected to compete in or observe Kentucky Cup Endurance in preparation for next year's Endurance World Championship at the 2010 Games. The team from the United Arab Emirates will be led by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His son, HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, will also ride for the UAE.

Current World Champion Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain, and the mother-daughter team of Valerie Kanavy and Danielle Mc Gunigal of the United States will also compete. Kanavy is a two-time world champion (1994 and 1998) and also placed second to her daughter in the 1996 World Championships.

Kentucky Cup Endurance will feature both a 75-mile (120 km) race and a 100-mile (160 km) race. Both races comprise a series of loops through the Kentucky Horse Park and surrounding properties, frequently returning to the Kentucky Horse Park for required veterinary inspections.

The 75-mile race will begin at 7:30 a.m. on October 14 and the 100-mile race will follow with a 7:45 a.m. start. Awards for the 100-mile race will be held at 10:00 a.m. on October 15 in the new outdoor stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. In addition to honoring the top riders, there will also be an award for the best conditioned horse.

Admission to Kentucky Cup Endurance is free to the public. Parking will be $3 per day at the entrance of the Kentucky Horse Park. Kentucky Cup Endurance spectators can also enjoy the other Kentucky Horse Park attractions. Admission to Kentucky Horse Park attractions is available at the Visitor's Center.

A complete list of competitors and countries is available on the Kentucky Cup Endurance test event page of our Web site.

About the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan is the current president of the FEI. The Games are held every four years and this will be the first occurrence in the United States.

The Games will be broadcast on NBC Sports, which has marked the largest commitment to network coverage of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $150 million, and current sponsors include Alltech, Rolex, John Deere, Ariat International, Inc., Meydan, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, and AQHA. For more information on the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, please visit www.alltechfeigames.com

Media Contact:
Amy Walker
859-255-2010 ext. 235

Monday October 12 2009

The bluebloods of the Thoroughbred world are looking to the Kentucky Horse Park outside of Lexington, where the bluebloods of the endurance world have congregated. Most of the horses are in the stable area in the KHP - still awaiting the arrival of the horses from Spain and the UAE.

Riders have been out on the parts of the course that are encompassed by the KHP, horses are enjoying grazing on the bluegrass, riders and grooms are now staying in the campground in the KHP, barely a furlong away from their horses.

Parts of the course were marked today, some of the lucky volunteers getting to drive through some of the private, elite Thoroughbred farms where the competitors will get to ride.

Vetting in begins at 11 AM tomorrow.

Tony Benedetti - Pacific North Chef d'Equipe

Saturday October 10 2009

He's a bit like an art sculptor, who gathers the different material, works and molds the pieces into one form, shapes it into a piece, and finely details it for the Big Show. But instead of clay or metal, Tony Benedetti, Chef d'Equipe for the Pacific North riders, takes 6 endurance horses and riders from different backgrounds and with different goals, and molds them into a team, shaping them into a finely tuned machine for the Big Show - the Kentucky Cup Endurance ride.

Tony's a bit like a chess player too, trying to figure out the best moves with the best riders and horses to get the best performances out of all of them. Of his 6 horses and riders now in Kentucky, he'll have to choose 4 to be on the Pac North team, and 2 to ride as individuals - and with the talent he has behind and between the reins, that's going to be a difficult and strategic move.

in 1993 Tony was a rider on the North American team, and that was where he realized 'chefing' was very important. He thought it could be done a different way, and that's what got him started doing it. He's been a chef d'equipe "about very other year since 1995." And he thoroughly enjoys chefing and coaching riders. "It's satisfying - helping riders and squads turn in the best ride possible, with the ultimate goal of winning a medal."

He likes the task of taking 6-12 individual people and creating a team culture - and ultimately being successful while having fun getting there. "That is very important, because if you don't have fun, why bother with it?"


Cheryl Dell and TR Reason to Believe - Springville, CA

Friday October 9 2009

He lost his mother when he was 6 hours old, and he was raised with a goat. Maybe that's one explanation why 11-year-old Reason "has got personality!"

Cheryl Dell, a veterinarian from Springville, California, first saw Reason when she was looking for a backup endurance horse. She couldn't, however, afford him at the time, and tried not to think about him. It was her husband who secretly went and looked at Reason and rode him, and arranged with Carl Fudge of Sturgeon Creek Arabians in Manitoba, Canada to make payments. Since then (2005) it's been a great ride: 21 finishes in 23 starts (in the US), 19 of those in the top five, including 8 wins and 4 BCs, and 5 hundred-mile finishes.

On the endurance trails, Reason is "point and go" - though he wasn't always that way. "What a difference a couple of years makes in personality, vet checks, and on the trail. He's now all business, no nonsense. He grew up, got seasoned. He conserves his energy at the start... but he didn't do this at first! It used to take him a long time to pulse down at first because of the excitement. Now he gets excited, but he's calm about it, not amped or wacky. Now he's usually always down in 1-2 minutes in the vet gates."

This is one main reason why Cheryl and Reason are a pair to be reckoned with in the Kentucky Cup. The Spaniards seem to have this down with many of their top international horses, cantering into a vet gate and the horse pulsing right down in under a minute.


Sue Hedgecock and Julioslastchance - Park City, Utah

Thursday October 8 2009

Wednesday found Sue Hedgecock of Park City, Utah, and a load of horses, "driving across Kansas at the speed of light." That was a good thing, since she'd left home in a snowstorm the previous day, driving considerably slower. They are headed for Lexington, Kentucky for the October 14th Kentucky Cup Endurance pre-ride.

Since starting his endurance career in 2007, 8-year-old Julioslastchance, her mount in Kentucky in the 100-mile race, has 11 finishes in 14 starts, having finished in the Top 10 in all but one of those completions. "He's a big trotter. He likes to compete," Sue says.

Sue likes to compete also, and It's easy to see where she gets her competitiveness from: she used to be on the US Olympic Ski Team with her twin sister. She still teaches snow skiing in the Park City mountains in the winters.

Sue is excited about riding in Kentucky, but also a little worried. Julio has tied up twice, the last time in his most recent ride in the Owyhee Fandango 100 in Idaho in May. "I wracked my brain trying to figure out what it was that those 2 rides had in common, what ingredient it was that caused him to tie up. I think it was standing around too much before the rides; he needs to be ridden daily." Sue since changed Julio's training and nutrition program, and has been conditioning him all summer.


Becky Hart - US Chef d'Equipe

Becky Hart is an AERC Hall of Famer with 20,000 AERC miles under her belt, and a former multiple World Endurance Champion; but what she won't be doing at the Kentucky Cup and North American Endurance Team Challenge in Lexington, Kentucky, on October 14th, is riding. Becky is also the US Endurance Chef d'Equipe, but what she also won't be doing at the Kentucky Cup is coaching. "I'm going just to watch, though if someone asks for advice, I can give it."

Since this competition is the pre-ride for the World Equestrian Games Endurance in September of 2010, Becky is hopeful all of the US riders will be focused on that bigger picture. Some riders are going to Kentucky this year to qualify their horses and get their COC (Certificate of Completion - a 100-mile ride time in under 12 hours and 20 minutes) for next year; some are already qualified; but "some of the horses are so good that even if they aren't going for a win in the Kentucky Cup, they'll be right up there."

Becky expects Spain to do well in the 100-mile ride - which is to be expected, since Maria Alvarez Ponton will be heading the Spanish contingent. Maria was recently crowned the European Champion in Italy last month, in addition to her World Endurance Champion title from Malaysia in November of 2008 - on the same horse. She will be riding a different horse, Sahara, in the Kentucky Cup; and her husband Jaume Punti Dachs will also be riding. "Spain is the one we've patterened our crewing efforts after," Becky says, "though since only 2 people are allowed in the crewing box in Kentucky, we can't do our bucket brigade.

"It'll be a good competition, a fast course."

Becky really won't, however, be just kicking back and watching the Kentucky Cup, either. You can bet she'll be wholly occupied, appraising and absorbing every detail of the ride - the horses, riders, times, course - with a critical eye regarding the World Equestrian Games endurance competition next year - the ultimate goal of the US riders and coach.


Heather Reynolds of Reynolds Racing reports on her blog on hers and Jeremy's trip to the Kentucky Cup

Sunday/Monday, 11,12 October 2009

Sunday came and went! It is now Monday night. I am super tired. Any how, Sunday we woke up and packed all of our trailers to drive over to the horse park and have our passport inspections on the horses. At noon we all drove over together and got the horses settled in. The stalls are extremely small!! They are also very flimsy. The walls are made of vinyl and that is it.

I finally got to meet Carson. He is really cool. He is 16.1 and looks like a race horse. I rode him with Valerie's group of riders after we had everything else settled. He is really comfortable and when he canters he passes everyone in the first few strides just doing a relaxed gait. He can come home with me any day:)

Jeremy rode Smitty and Maddy rode Fuego. All the horses still look great.

Monday, Jeremy and Tim took care of the horses in the morning. When they returned I asked how the horses were and they said fine... except for yours. I thought they were full of you know what. But they weren't. It turns out 16.1 hand horses and tiny stalls are a bad mix when it comes to laying down. Carson had remodeled his stall. Luckily he didn't hurt himself, just the stall. He ripped open the front door to the stall (remember it is only vinyl). He also bowed out the whole front section, gate and all. He is fine. The front panel has also been replaced already!


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Kentucky Day 7

Today is Friday. Last night Shar, Skip, Jeremy, Cheryl and I went to see a movie. We saw the new movie called Couples Retreat. It was pretty funny. Then we went out for Mexican food. While we were out the Mountain Team arrived.

Charisse, Kim and Laura Hayes went out dancing with the property manager for the farm we are staying at.

Today we went over to the Kentucky Horse Park. Our team uniforms were admired. The registration wasn't ready yet, so we did what any rational group of individuals would do and went to Starbucks. When we returned they were ready for us. We were all able to register and then we checked out our barns.

Apparently right after we registered, there were a group of officials from the driving event that came over to our registration. It turns out that their event is on the same day and yes, even some of the same course as ours! They were insisting that our course needed to change as they had registered first for their event. Good luck re-routing us Emmet! This is his newest nightmare.


Thursday, 08 October 2009

Kentucky Day 6

Today is Thursday. The Mountain Team was supposed to arrive today at our farm but they got stuck in a flood somewhere in Missouri. Hopefully they make it tomorrow.

Jeremy and I went on a really nice run this morning, blue skys and a really nice temperature. The scenery is of course great as well.

This morning our team vet Chuck Kessinger arrived. He went over all of our team horses and they seemed to all be pretty good. There were 6 horses examined and one of them was an alternate horse. My horse is not here as he will arrive when Valerie gets to the Horse Park on Sunday. The only change that has occured is that it was decided that Charisse would be better off on Laramie, who was Kim's original mount and that Kim would ride Ben, the original back up horse. That put Charisse's original horse as the back up. Just one big round robbin. All the horses were fine but based on their records this seemed like the thing to do. I think Kim will now have a big work out as her horse Ben is A LOT of horse. Oh well, good for the team. A big thanks to Charisse and especially Kim!


Thursday October 8 2009

Kentucky Day 4 & 5

On Tuesday morning we took Fuego and Smitty for a walk. Jeremy and I rode our bikes and we ponied the horses for about an hour. In the afternoon the rest of our team horses arrived. Reason and Sando flew to Indianapolis and then drove three hours to Lexington.

The only mishap so far with the horses for the entire trip was when Sando got nervous while the pallet was being trailered to the plane. It was moving in a really jerky way and it set him off and he scrambled a bit and fell down in the pallet. You can only imagine how worrisome that was tp then have to wait for the whole flight and trailer ride to find out how he actually was doing. It turns out he is fine, a little cut up but totally fine.


Tuesday, 06 October 2009

Kentucky day 3

We made it!! We pulled in at 1:30 am and boy were we glad to be done driving... at least for the next 10 days:) After well deserved sleep we took the horses out for a long walk. Jeremy and I rode our bikes and ponied Fuego and Smitty around Bryan Station. The place is beautiful. We are staying in a house on the farm. It is really close to the barn. We also have huge grassy turn out paddocks. Both of our horses seemed relieved this morning to not be getting into the trailer.

Charisse and Kim were already here and Cheryl and Carolyn fly in tonight. Their horses fly in tonight as well.

Merlin thinks it is great here. He has been sprinting around a lot today. Yes, he literally sprints.

I found out one more piece of info about Carson. My friend emailed me a picture she had of him and he is a grey. I like greys so that is good:)


Monday, 05 October 2009

Kentucky- day 2

We have been driving for 40 hours and our GPS says we have 530 miles left to go. Last night there was a nice snow storm that we went through in Wyoming. Right now we are in Missouri, at the moment that is synonymous for misery. We are finding out that our new Toter Home International goes a fine speed in CA as the speed limit is 55 for a truck hauling. Not the case in these central states where the speed limit is 75. Our truck hits top speed at 61 MPH unless you are going down a big hill. Oh well, it's a lot like riding a real honest hard working, sound endurance horse that is lacking any true talent. You love them because they give you all they've got willingly, and you live with the fact that they aren't cut out for speed.

We are headed to Lexington Kentucky for the World Championship Pre-Ride. We left Almaden, CA on Sat the 3rd around 1pm, after visiting psycho donuts, where you can get the most outrageous donuts imaginable. We loaded up Smitty and Fuego and started East.

Jeremy will be riding Sir Smith and I will be riding Carson's Gold on the FEI3* 100/160 km race. Fuego will be doing the FEI2* 75/120 km race with our friend Chikako who is representing Japan. (Chikako rode one of our other horses, Genuine Treasure at the FEI2* at the Git Er Done ride earlier this year winning the Best Condition award for the FEI division.)