What happens to a dream deferred? Steve and Vicki Sukup wouldn’t know, because frankly, that’s not their style. Steve is the president and CEO of family-owned Sukup Manufacturing, and also happens to be the co-owner of another Iowan delight—Mo Donegal, the Belmont Stakes winner who was dressed in white carnations earlier this month. Steve and his wife Vicki also have another equine connection who is pretty well known in the eventing world: Elisa Wallace.
Wallace's mount Simply Priceless, aka Johnny, was about to be sold out from under her several years ago but when Steve and Vicki caught wind of this potential pickle, they got right to work brainstorming ways to help keep the partnership possible. “Little Ricky”—Rick Wallace, Wallace’s dad—is the one who made the call to the Sukups. His sister Laura and Vicki go way back to junior high school and in a lot of ways, they’ve remained each other’s chosen family over the years.
“We were dumbfounded—what should we do, what can we do?” recalled Vicki. And then Rick mentioned putting together a syndication. A horse owner syndication is when a group of people comes together to purchase a promising horse for a professional event rider. Though syndication was new to Steve and Vicki, they didn’t shy away from the opportunity and knew they had to have the majority shares of Simply Priceless. “Elisa’s dream was to train a horse and bring it to the five-star level, and we knew what she did with mustangs and we were enthralled with that so we just said, ‘Take Simply Priceless and do what you do to mustangs and do that with him,’” said Vicki.
And Wallace did just that, representing the United States in England at the 2015 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials and finishing 29th out of 110 starters, and then finishing 8th at the 2016 Rolex Kentucky International Horse Trials. Together, they completed 17 FEI events and soared over the biggest tracks in the world while attending five-star events.
“We ended up going to Europe with him and it was amazing—we didn’t care if it rained on us—we were just happy to be part of the family,” said Vicki. Growing up as an Air Force kid, Vicki learned to love small animals, namely toy breeds like Toy Poodles. Owning a larger animal, such as a horse, wasn’t possible with frequent and big moves. Vicki fondly recalled their Goldendoodle being in the stable with Johnny, joining him in his stall. It was the merging of two worlds that we all know well—our past and our present.
“After Johnny had an injury Steve said, ‘She needs more horses,” said Vicki. She lowered her voice and admitted that they were bitten—bitten badly—with the eventing bug and watching Wallace’s steady incline of success. When Johnny was retired at the ripe age of 20, Wallace brought home Riot Gear who also came with spring-loaded upper-level potential. After tragically breaking his neck in a stable accident, the search was back on for Wallace and her family—the Sukups included.
“We were in the thick of it with Mo Donegal,” said Vicki, describing that their investment with Mo was really an investment in their good friend Jerry Crawford—a co-owner of Mo. “A ninth-grade teacher, Mr. Kratina, was big on the Derby. He said, ‘Always bet on the jockey.’ I told that to Steve and he didn’t understand it until this last [race] with Mo. And we invest in Elisa just the same. Whatever she chooses, we’re ok with that. She’s the expert. Same with that jockey on Mo.” Vicki also said that it is her dream, one day, to get more into the racing scene and then have Wallace pick out an eventing horse since so many Thoroughbreds have extreme athletic potential when placed in the right hands.
Piggybacking the Belmont win excitement, Steve and Vicki are now championing Wallace through another syndication with her new mount from Europe—the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding Renkum Corsair (Renkum Chapot x Renkum Colitas), aka Caz.
“Her dream is her dream, and if someone gets in the middle of a dream, that’s sort of not ok. And if we’re able to, in any way, help that dream along the way, we welcome them as family,” said Vicki. “Family is important. It’s not always blood family but you choose your family also."
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to compete in a traditional long format Three-Day Event? Can you imagine the thrill of three additional phases leading into cross-country? In the early 2000s, eventing began to shift away from long format events and toward modern short-format competitions. Not all is lost though! The United States Eventing Association (USEA) created the USEA Classic Series to give riders a taste of the old school experience. These competitions preserve eventing’s history and allow riders at the Beginner Novice through Preliminary levels to take on the challenge of traditional long format events.
As the cutoff date to qualify for Le Lion inches closer, talented young horses and riders in contention for the The Holekamp/Turner YEH Lion d’Angers Grant are gearing up for the final push in hopes of being selected as the grant recipient. Grant funds will assist the selected pair with costs associated with competing at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships in the 7-year-old CCIYH3*-L Championship slated to be held later this fall. 2020 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships competitors and their respective owners and riders have paid careful attention to this summer’s schedule making sure that they would meet the necessary qualifications for La Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France.
US Equestrian announced the four combinations selected to represent the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Canada CCIO4*-S, three of which are graduates of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program. Competition will take place from August 18-21, 2022, at Bromont Horse Park in Quebec, Canada. The team will be led by Chef d’Equipe Leslie Law.
Are you interested in getting a front-row seat at the biggest event of the year? Have dreams of horses in the mountains of Montana been galloping through your head? Sign up to volunteer at the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC)! Volunteer positions are open to everyone, including competitors, trainers, owners, friends, and family. The 2022 AEC will take place Aug. 30 - Sept. 4 at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana.