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."
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has opened nominations for the annual appreciation awards through Oct. 29. This is an opportunity for the sport to recognize those horses and riders who excelled in eventing throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor the very important people who have served the sport tirelessly both in a non-riding capacity and riding capacity during their golden years.
Anticipation for the 2024 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship and inaugural USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) Championship is growing, and the host venue, Stable View, is up for the task of making both events an unforgettable experience for all involved. For the first time, the Intercollegiate and IEL program championships will be hosted on the same weekend at the Stable View H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina, on May 4-5, 2024, creating greater unity between the programs and demonstrating a clear pipeline of participation in the sport from grade school through college and beyond.
The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has made five rule changes which will go into effect October 1, 2023. Familiarize yourself with these rule changes below to make sure you are in compliance before heading out for your next event.
With the goal of creating a pathway for young horses in the U.S. and participants of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program, earlier this year the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and USEA joined forces to launch the USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships for 6- and 7-year-olds.