He knows his way around the Kentucky Horse Park, that's for sure. But will he find his way back again?
Cool Mountain (or ?Ollie? as he is known around the barn back in Dorset, England), may log some more frequent flyer miles this summer if he returns to the USA with rider William Fox-Pitt. Together, they are expected to lead the always-threatening British eventing team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
It was no surprise last week when WIlliam and Cool Mountain were named to the list of six finalists for the British team.
Ollie and William were the winners of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI**** in April and while the course, the weather and the entire venue will be different from what they conquered in the spring, the pair are sure to be heavy favorites. Once Cool Mountain set his hoof down in Lexington, he owned the town: he and William led after dressage and dominated the weekend; they never lost their lead, even though it was the horse's first attempt at a four-star event.
At 44, William Fox-Pitt is one of the most successful riders in the history of eventing. He lead the yearly world rankings in the sport in 2002 and in 2009, and the British rankings seven times. A perennial Olympian for Britain, William first competed at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and won medals with the British Olympic team at Athens and Hong Kong. William also medaled in the World Equestrian Games in Jerez and Aachen and has won the gold medal as a member of seven European championship teams. At 6'4", William is also one of the tallest professional riders in any equestrian sport.
Cool Mountain is a 16.2 hand, 10 year old Thoroughbred owned by Mrs Teresa Stopford-Sackville. His sire is the National Hunt racing Thoroughbred, Primitive Rising, who was named the most successful sire of event horses in Great Britain in 1999, when he won the Horse & Hound Award for Leading Sire of Eventers for that year. Primitive Rising died in 2002. Following the offspring of Primitive Rising (and the offspring of his offspring) is basically akin to following the sport of eventing in Great Britain--they?re everywhere! And they seem to show up in the results a lot! Primitive Rising may be deceased, but he has his own Facebook page, where owners and fans of his offspring can follow the pedigree line.
No doubt we'll see William?s groom Jackie Potts in September. Jackie has been grooming for the Fox-Pitt lineup of eventing stars for 18 years and in 2006 was named Kuster BEF Groom of the Year .
I didn't think William Fox-Pitt would be anxious to see our shores again. His journey to Kentucky in April was ?clouded? by the airline mayhem surrounding the Icelandic volcano and getting home wasn't much easier. When William left Lexington, he was in a rush to get home and compete at the Badminton Horse Trials but he found himself stuck in Chicago and spent the night on the floor at O?Hare airport. Even worse, Jackie and Ollie were stuck in Atlanta. According to the Times (London), all William?s gear was in Atlanta with Jackie--including his dressage top hat and shadbelly coat.
At the Barbary Castle*** in Britain last week, Cool Mountain had his first outing since Kentucky; he finished fifth. This week, Ollie, Jackie and William are at a training session with the other British eventing team finalists.
What don't you already know about William Fox-Pitt? Well, he raises rare breeds of chickens on his farm in Dorset and don't forget that among his star ex-students is Madonna, who is now living (and riding) in the USA. Let?s hope she'll be at Lexington in September to cheer for William and Ollie!
To prepare for WEG and all the attention to come in the next few weeks, William has just launched a brand new Fox-Pitt Eventing web site, which is full of information and photos. Check it out!
You can be there! Watch the British team take on a host of challengers including the home team Americans, the Olympic 2008 gold medalist Germans, the elegant French and the always successful Australians and New Zealanders. The eventing competition takes place between Thursday, the 30th of September, and Sunday, the 3rd of October. Saturday's cross-country is expected to be the single busiest day of the entire Games. Ticket information will help you figure out how to make sure there's a spot at the Horse Park for you to watch this exciting phase of WEG.