In this series, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to critique your off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) eventing prospects. Would you like to have your off-the-track Thoroughbred featured in the next edition of OTTB Critique presented by Athletux? We are looking for our next horse! Email your tips to [email protected].
In honor of this past weekend’s USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships, we are excited to feature an off-the-track Thoroughbred who has successfully made his way through the YEH Program in this month’s OTTB Critique column. The Young Event Horse Championship is one of the most competitive classes of the year for 4- and 5-year-olds and if you have a horse that not only qualifies but also competes and holds its own, you know you have a horse for the future.
This month’s nominee successfully competed in the USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championship 4-year-old division in 2017 and placed an impressive seventh in one of the largest championship classes to date. He also earned the title of top placing OTTB, an honor that set him up perfectly for the future. This OTTB is Point Nemo (SongAndAPrayer x Wood Not), a 6-year-old owned by Rumsey Keefe and campaigned currently by her daughter and four-star event rider, Ryan Keefe.
For the Keefes, Thoroughbreds are a way of life. Rumsey’s husband and Ryan’s father, Timothy Keefe, is one of the most well-known Thoroughbred trainers in Maryland and sourced August’s featured OTTB, Brush Dance, as well. Timothy had Point Nemo in his barn ever since he was bought as a yearling. However, after last or nearly last place finishes in all four of his races, Timothy thought he may be better suited to a sport horse life and suggested to Rumsey that she take over the ride. Point Nemo was in the family’s barn within a week with Ryan climbing aboard less than two weeks after his last race.
Rumsey continued to develop the talented youngster and Alyssa Peterson took the reins and competed him at the 2017 YEH Championships. It was evident from the start that he had talent and scope to spare so after Rumsey produced him through the Training level in 2018, Ryan took over the ride at the beginning of this year and he joined her at the University of Kentucky. Point Nemo continued to flourish and after winning the TIP award at this year’s AEC in the Training Horse division, he completed and won his first Preliminary. It has all been quite impressive for a horse was nearly dead last in all of his races.
The Keefe family is very fond of Point Nemo and this month, we are excited to have three guest riders with us to critique him, Caroline Martin, Kelley Hutchinson, and Casey McKissock. While Caroline and Casey joined us for last month’s critique, we are excited to also have Kelley with us this month as she is here stateside to compete in the YEH Championships.
Hutchinson grew up in a horse-based family and has competed top level in both pony and junior eventing for the Irish team, all while growing her business. In addition to being a member of two Irish young rider event teams, she finished college and has won at shows like Royal Dublin Horse Show CSIO5* and Millstreet International Horse Trials, all while focusing on young horse development. Martin, Hutchinson, and McKissock are the perfect trio to help us critique Point Nemo this month.
Right from the start after looking at the photos and the video, all three quickly pointed out, “We just had to double-check this wasn’t an imported Warmblood!” It was clear Point Nemo showed all the characteristics to excel in his new career and all three agree he goes well beyond his years, jumping like a seasoned veteran. “With an athletic build and keen expression, this looks like a horse I wouldn’t mind having in my barn,” added Martin.
For Hutchinson, one of her favorite characteristics of Point Nemo is that “He has a lovely front end, which is powered by a strong hind end, and a beautifully developed top line.” McKissock also detailed, “He looks very willing and eager but with a bit more time working over his back and developing, I feel he could achieve even higher scores than he already is receiving.”
The trio also added that “While they don’t have a conformation shot to look at, judging by the look of his under saddle photos and videos, he had the build and characteristics to handle his new career, which is already evidenced by his quick and successful ascent up to the Preliminary level.”
Overall, Hutchinson added, “I am so impressed with the quality of this horse and the quality of all OTTB in the United States. While riding in the YEH Championships, I have seen some incredible OTTBs that, as Martin said, make you do a double-take because they go like seasoned imported warmbloods.” All three agree that Point Nemo has all the makings to go all the way. “His talent combined with his what looks like amazing temperament and solid build, point to an amazing horse to have for the future,” McKissock said. They wish Ryan the best of luck and all three are excited to follow his progress as he continues to rocket up the levels.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.
The 2012 and 2016 individual Olympic champion, Germany’s Michael Jung, blazed into first place after dressage at the Tokyo 2020 Games with a superb test on Chipmunk.
Deservedly scoring 21.1 - a record for both rider and his country at an Olympics, according to EquiRatings - it was a joy to watch. From the first extended trot, the pair looked secure, positive, and harmonious. The test was as accurate and as well-delivered as that of long-time leaders Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class (GBR), but with more expression and ease. Jung and the Contendro 13-year-old demonstrated all this specially-written, short Olympic test asks for and each movement flowed into the next.