By: Lindsay Berreth
Allentown, N.J. - May 10
For all the places Ballynoe Castle RM has been around the world with Buck Davidson and all the blue ribbons they’ve brought home, surprisingly, the gelding has never won a CCI at any level.
So to earn the Jersey Fresh CCI*** win today was special to Davidson, not only for that reason, but because his entire support team was in attendance, including owners Carl and Cassie Segal and his mother, Carol.
In fact, his longtime groom, Kathleen Murray, got to sit on “Reggie” in the awards presentation to receive her top groom award for the division.
“Of all the things he’s won, he’s never won a CCI. He’s always been second at every level,” said Davidson. “Halfway around the course yesterday, I thought, ‘If Reggie wins, I’d like Kathleen to ride him,’ so that was the motivating factor today. She’s special, he’s special, and the Segals are special, and I’m super lucky to be a part of it.”
Both Reggie and Carl had bouts of pneumonia over the winter, and Reggie has come back strong, while Carl followed doctor’s orders and was finally able to watch the gelding in competition again at Jersey Fresh.
“It’s great. For all of my friends and family, the first thing you want is good health, and we had to worry about Reggie with his pneumonia, then to have to worry about Carl with his this winter was very scary,” said Davidson, Riegelsville, Pa. “He did what the doctor said and is in good health and Reggie’s in good health, so it’s great to have Mom and Carl and Cassie here. I’m glad we could pull it off.”
Only three pairs jumped double-clears over Sally Ike’s show jumping track—Davidson and Reggie, Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz and Colleen Rutledge and Escot 6.
Davidson had a little breathing room when Lauren Kieffer, who was in second by .4 on Meadowbrook’s Scarlett, dropped a rail.
“I jumped him a little bit this morning, and he was jumping great,” he said. “Out here in the ring, he was jumping great. I trust him completely. I knew once I left a stride out to the third fence on purpose that I could add to the double. The only time he’s really going to have a rail is into a combination, like a vertical to a vertical because he starts to back up to the next one, or an oxer where he jumps up high. Once that happened, we were fine.”
When asked if he was worried about only having a rail in hand, Davidson, who’s a master under pressure, said he wasn’t.
“If you start thinking, ‘Oh I can have a rail,’ that can turn into two pretty quick,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t even know what her score was. You get into a place where you’re not listening and can’t hear anything, and you’re just focused on what you have to do with yourself and your horse.
“The only pressure is what you put on yourself,” he added. “Every time, I want to do the best I can possibly do for each and every horse. Reggie obviously is very special, and he’s done so much for me that I owe him more than I owe the other ones! It’s an honor every time to go and get on him and take him for a ride. I just try to do the best possible job I can, and what I lack, he makes up for, so it’s OK.”
Davidson’s not sure of Reggie’s fall plans yet, but he has made him available to the team if he would be needed for the Pan American Games in Toronto this summer. “As I always say, he’ll tell us. Whatever Reggie wants is what we’re gonna do,” he said.
Kieffer was thrilled with her young U.S.-bred mare’s performance in her first CCI***. Owned by Marie Le Menestrel, Kieffer has brought her along from the start.
“She jumped really well. I was thrilled with how she came out and felt. It was the first time she’s run that long, and she’s 8. I couldn’t have been happier with her,” she said.
Kieffer also rode Landmark’s Monte Carlo, a Jacqueline Mars homebred, to the CIC*** win and completed the CCI** with his full brother, Landmark’s Monaco.
“For me, as a rider, it’s great to go buy horses that are going, but it also still takes a bit of time to make that connection, and it’s a bit of a risk too,” she said. “With the young ones, whatever baggage they have you gave them. You produce them the way you like, and they know you, and you know them inside and out, and sometimes even the ones that may not be the most flashy or talented end up doing a spectacular job because they’re so broke to you and have that partnership.”
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