Lexington, Ky.—April 30—When Hot Bobo first joined Karl Slezak’s barn, the Canadian rider posted on Facebook on December 13, 2017, “She’s finally here!!! After a very long journey from Ireland to England to France to Belgium then to New York for quarantine she finally made it to Florida! Meet Hot Bobo!!!!” The Monart Sale in Ireland, from where “Bobo” was sourced as a 4-year-old, shared the post to its page, saying, “We can’t wait to see how they get on!”
Now 10, the bay Irish Sport Horse mare (VDL Arkansas x Taneys Leader) owned by Slezak turned in the biggest victory of her career in the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event on Sunday.
“She handled it amazing,” Slezak said about the atmosphere inside Rolex Stadium. “Even when I was doing a victory gallop to be so close to the crowd cheering, she was just eating it up. I was definitely excited about it. So, going forward, I’m very confident in her at any championships or in that situation.”
On Saturday, Slezak and “Bobo” turned in one of just three double-clear cross-country rounds on Derek di Grazia’s four-star course to move from seventh after dressage to first heading into show jumping. On Sunday, they became the only pair in the field of 49 to finish on their dressage score. That finishing score of 29.3 was the lowest in the history of the CCI4*-S that was first run at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2021. It bettered the 29.7 by Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver (Womanizer x Kylemore Crystal) from 2022.
There wasn’t much margin for error for Slezak and Bobo when Tamie Smith and Julianne and David Guariglia’s 12-year-old bay Silla Argentina mare Solaguayre California (Casparo x Solaguayre Calandria) went double-clear in show jumping in the preceding round. Their score of 30.0 gave Slezak and Bobo just one second of time as a cushion.
“I definitely was nervous, but I tried to put as little pressure on myself as possible,” Slezak said. “What it will be will be, and usually it works out better that way. And, she just felt great, so I was definitely more confident.”
Hot Bobo had only moved up to the four-star and Advanced levels in 2023, but Slezak said that part of the reason was because he spent much of last summer competing in Europe with his 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Fernhill Wishes (Chacoa x Kec Galway Bay).
“I was confident for the move-up, but, again, until you do the level, you never know what’s going to happen, and she did fantastic,” he said.
Slezak said Hot Bobo will next head to the Tryon International Three Day Event (Mill Spring, North Carolina), while the second- and third-place finishers in the Kentucky four-star will be headed to the five-star at the Luhmühlen Horse Trials in Germany, according to their riders.
“I really wanted to make sure that she handled all of this well,” Smith said about Solaguayre California, adding that the next steps are to “decompress and get our wits about us and then go to Luhmühlen.”
The third-place finisher, Sydney Elliott and Carol Stephens’ 13-year-old black Oldenburg gelding QC Diamantaire (Diarado x Latana) had competed in the CCI5*-L at the Kentucky Three-Day Event the past two years, including an eighth-place finish in 2022. This will be their third year going to Europe, with their best overseas finish being fifth in the CCI4*-L at Boekelo in the Netherlands in October 2021 where they represented the U.S. Eventing Team in FEI Nations Cup competitions.
“This was a last run before we head to Germany,” Elliott said. “We were using it as a prep run—a great last run for him before we head for Europe.”
Hot Bobo and Solaguayre California gave mares a one-two finish in the CCI4*-S in Kentucky.
“When mares work for you, they’re amazing,” Slezak said. “She definitely wants to please and works for me real well.”
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After not running in 2020 and 2021, the MARS Bromont CCI Three-Day Event returned to the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Center in Quebec, Canada, in 2022. America's Jennie Saville (née Brannigan) and Twilightslastgleam won the CCI4*-L, as the chestnut Thoroughbred gelding (National Anthem x Royal Child) bred and owned by Nina Gardner moved up from eighth after dressage into the lead after cross-country with the fastest round on wet ground over the tracks designed by Derek di Grazia. Canada's Lindsay Traisnel and Bacyrouge, a bay Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago x Lelia) owned by Patricia Pearce, finished second, and they are among four from the top-10 in the CCI4*-L in 2022 that return in 2023.
Hannah Sue Hollberg of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, was on a winning streak at the Essex Horse Trials on Sunday, claiming victory in both the $10,000 Open Intermediate and Open Preliminary divisions with two horses that are fairly new to her. Some difficulty on cross-country did not stop her mount Hachi from claiming victory in the Open Intermediate with a score of 101.6, while Open Preliminary partner Rockster finished on his dressage score of 27.3.
The great football coach Vince Lombardi said, “We win our games in practice.” With the goal of having the most effective practices possible for horses, their riders, and their coaches, Cathy Wieschhoff explains some signs that can indicate when horse and rider should repeat an exercise, switch it up, or be done with that activity. Wieschhoff brings perspective as a five-star rider that has competed at the Kentucky Three-Day Event and Burghley Horse Trials, a USEF “R” Course Designer for eventing cross-country and show jumping, a former Area VIII chair and member of the USEA Board of Governors, and a Level V USEA ECP Certified Coach based out of Carriage Station Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.