Lexington, Ky.—April 29—Hot Bobo has always been a a little tricky and sensitive on cross-country, so when Karl Slezak decided to bring her to the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S, he knew it wouldn’t just be Derek di Grazia’s course that would be a challenge—it would also be the crowds of people at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“I watched a couple rounds. It was nice to see it was flowing well,” he said. “My horse has had some issues in the past. As a young horse, she was really spooky and really green cross-country, and this is the first time she would have seen the crowd. So, I was a little unsure until I got to the warmup, but in the warmup she was spot on and I was very confident going out of the box and just went for it.”
The pair vaulted from seventh after dressage to first on their dressage score of 29.3—one of three double-clear rounds. Tamie Smith and Solaguayre California moved from third to second with 2.4 time penalties, and Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool added 5.6 time penalties to drop from second to third.
Slezak, who rides for Canada, bought Hot Bobo, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (VDL Arkansas x Taneys Leader) from the Monart Sale in Ireland as a 4-year-old.
“We bought her as a sales horse, and she was great on the flat and as a show jumper, and everybody loved her, and then they’d cross-country school her, and it was like she’d never seen a cross-country fence before, so nobody wanted to buy her. It worked out for me really well!” he said. “So here we are. Every time we go to the barn, all my working students joke that they go into her stall, and she pins her ears, but when I go into her stall, she’s always looking for treats and love. We have a good relationship.”
Slezak has the 2023 Pan American Games (Chile) on his radar with “Bobo,” especially now since she’s stepped up to the plate over the last 1 1/2 years with her cross-country. The pair won the Tryon CCI3*-L (Mill Spring, North Carolina) last fall and are on the Canadian selectors' radar.
Smith was “absolutely ecstatic” with Julianne and David Guariglia’s Solaguayre California, a 12-year-old Silla Argentina mare (Casparo x Solaguayre Calandria), who will head to her first five-star at Luhmühlen this summer.
“California came out this year really understanding her job now,” she said. “It’s been an exciting journey with her because she used to balloon up into water and spook at coffins, but she answered all the questions easy. I was really pleased with her.”
Halliday-Sharp and “Dave,” a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Heritage Fortunus x HHS Carlotta), who’s owned by Ocala Horse Properties and the Monster Partnership, became her best-placed horse when overnight leader Cooley Nutcracker triggered a frangible pin at the MIM Table at fence 18. With that and 4.8 time penalties, the pair dropped to 15th.
“I was thrilled with both of my horses,” Halliday-Sharp said. “I was disappointed to have a frangible pin at the table which the horse barely touched behind; it was a real shame because he gave me a beautiful round. I was totally thrilled with him for a young horse. He was just spectacular. In my mind, he’s done me proud.
“Dave was a good boy,” she continued. “He’s had a little bit less fitness than some of these guys, so I wasn’t able to be as quick as I wanted, but he was exceptional and made everything feel easy. He’s a very brave horse, so it was nice to run him around.”
Show jumping for the CCI4*-S starts on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. EST
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