May 26, 2017

Trophy Tales: A History of U.S. Eventing Awards – Mare of the Year

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
Jil Walton riding Patrona, who won the Mare of the Year three times. Ed Lawrence Photo.

In March of 1973, the USCTA (now USEA) announced that a new award, the Frolicsome Trophy, would be given annually to the mare accumulating the largest number of points. Donated by Dr. Mary Alice Brown, the award was named in honor of her mare, Frolicsome, who was competed by J. Michael Plumb in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“She was a cute bay mare,” said Plumb. “I competed her a lot in the U.S. before we went to England to prepare for the Olympics. I was too big for her, she was not 16 hands, but she was a great jumper and mover.” Frolicsome got passed over for Olympic selection in 1972, but Plumb still recalled her as a favorite. Brown specialized in reproduction and bred multiple horses ridden by Plumb, Bruce Davidson and Denny Emerson. She evented for 55 consecutive seasons and was one of the longest supporters of eventing in the U.S. before passing away in 2011.

Chelsea, the first winner of the Frolicsome Trophy pictured in USCTA News. 

The inaugural winner in 1972 was Chelsea, who was owned by Read Perkins and ridden by Mary Uihlein. According to the March 1973 issue of USCTA News, “Chelsea placed in seven different competitions during the year and was third in standing for the Horse of the Year trophy.” Chelsea topped the Frolicsome Trophy standings again in 1974 with both Uihlein and J. Michael Plumb riding.

In both 1975 and 1977, Tad Coffin rode Bally Cor to the top of the Frolicsome Trophy standings, and 24 years later, Bally Cor’s granddaughter, Ballymar would have her name inscribed on the trophy along with rider Jim Stamets. In 1978, Stamets started as a working student for Tad Coffin and would train with him for many years. Stamets broke Ballymar as a 3-year-old and went on to bring her through the ranks, even competing at Blenheim in 1999. Following Stamets’ untimely death in 2001, Karen O’Connor took over the ride on Ballymar and competed her for several years at the four-star level.

Over the years there have been several two-time winners: Chelsea, Bally Cor, Gold Chip and Poltroon. However, only two mares have won three times: Patrona (1992, 1994, 1997) and Jam (2005, 2006, 2007).

Foaled in 1985, Patrona (Distant Land x Angelically) was brought up from the Novice level by Jil Walton. Walton and the Thoroughbred mare would go on to be the highest placed U.S. pair at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The pair finished in 17th place. That year they won both the Frolicsome Trophy as well as the Casar Memorial Trophy for Horse of the Year – one of only five times that has happened in the history of the award. Patrona would go on to compete at the Advanced level for seven years – retiring from competition in 1998.

Bruce Davidson and Jam. USEA Archives Photo.

Bruce Davidson’s grey Thoroughbred mare, Jam (by Snar) dominated the standings from 2005 to 2007. Jam started her eventing career with Buck Davidson, before being ridden by Bruce at the top levels. Jam had many stellar results at the three-star level and in 2007, she finished 10th at the Burghley CCI4* in England – adding just a bit of cross-country time penalties to her dressage score. In 2010, Jam retired from competition and has produced several foals who are now competing in eventing themselves.

Past Winners of Mare of the Year

2016 – Under Suspection (Hannah Sue Burnett)

2015 – Meadowbrook’s Scarlett (Lauren Kieffer)

2014 – Veronica (Lauren Kieffer)

2013 – RF Demeter (Marilyn Little)

2012 – Schoensgreen Hanni (Michael Pollard)

2011 – Absolute Liberty (Buck Davidson)

2010 – Gin N Juice (Hawley Bennett-Awad)

2009 – Rumor Hazit (Julie Boyer)

2008 – The Good Witch (Jennifer Wooten)

2007 – Jam (Bruce Davidson)

2006 – Jam (Bruce Davidson)

2005 – Jam (Bruce Davidson)

2004 – Fleeceworks Starlight (Stuart Black)

2003 – Sportscar (Gillian Clissold)

2002 – Rose Tremiere (Bruce Mandeville)

2001 – Ballymar (Jim Stamets)

2000 –  Larissa (Bruce Mandeville)

1999 – Landlady (Kerry Millikin)

1998 – Lazy Dot (Caroline Atherholt McClung)

1997 – Patrona (Jil Walton)

1996 – Bagguette (Phillip Dutton)

1995 – Rumours in the Air (Virginia Jenkins)

1994 – Patrona (Jil Walton)

1993 – Gaisha (Janet Andrews)

1992 – Patrona (Jil Walton)

1991 – Aluette (Jonathan Elliott)

1990 – Shannon (Michael Godfrey)

1989 – Yankee Girl (Karen Stives)

1988 – Mystic High (Bruce Davidson)

1987 – Yankee Girl (Karen Stives)

1986 – Rolls Royce (Ann Sutton)

1985 – Gold Chip (Mike Huber)

1984 – Chip’s Treasurer (Keith Taylor)

1983 – Swallowtown (Torrance Fleischmann)

1982 – Tell So (Harriet Peterson)

1981 – Energize (Del Greenwell)/Three Little Woods (Debbie Brink)

1980 – Poltroon (Torrance Watkins)

1979 – Poltroon (Torrance Watkins)

1978 – Gold Chip (Mike Huber)

1977 – Bally Cor (Tad Coffin)

1976 – Irish Trick (Bea and Beth Perkins)

1975 – Bally Cor (Tad Coffin)

1974 – Chelsea (Mary Uihlein and J. Michael Plumb)

1973 – Cajun (Caroline Treviranus)

1972 – Chelsea (Mary Uihlein)


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