Grandioso to Compete in USA for 1st Time Since Courtney King-Dye Accident
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 18, 2015–Grandioso ridden by José Daniel Martín Dockx returns to an American competition arena this week for the first time since Courtney King-Dye was seriously injured in a riding accident five years ago just days before she was to debut the Spanish stallion at Grand Prix.
After Courtney’s accident on March 3, 2010, the ride on Grandioso owned by Hampton Green Farms of Wellington and Fruitport, Michigan was given to Dani when an American rider was not available. He has ridden the horse on the Spanish team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy and the 2013 European Championships.
Dani, who has never competed in the U.S. before this winter’s Adequan Global Dressage Festival, began 2015 ranked No. 27 on the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) world standings with Grandioso, now 16 years old and the highest ranked Spanish combination.
Courtney had started showing Grandioso at small tour in late 2008 and after four successful Intermediate 2 starts in 2010 was scheduled to debut the Pura Raza Español stallion in a national Grand Prix at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby. Courtney’s accident on a young horse occurred the day before the start of the show.
Kim Boyer of Hampton Green waited 10 months after the accident and an unsuccessful search for an American to compete Grandioso before talking to Dani, with whom she had some young horses in training.
“Kim said she had a very good horse here,” Dani told dressage-news.com, “but she didn’t know what to do with the horse.”
Jan Bemelmans, the German-based trainer who was coach of the Spanish team at the time, was intrigued enough to fly with Dani to Florida to look at Grandioso. Jan liked the horse and it was shipped to Spain for training with Dani.
“I never thought such a thing would happen to me,” he said. “At my age at the time–37 years old–I thought my career would stay in national competitions in Spain. For me it was a great opportunity to ride a horse like this, train with Jan and to have a sponsor like Hampton Green Farms.
“It is like winning the lottery when you ride for Kim.”
A Spanish stallion competing against horses with bloodlines long established at breeding centers in Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden was not easy but made an impression on the judges at the London Olympics. Many of those who came to compliment the pair who attained scores of 69-plus per cent sometimes added, “but the horse is limited and won’t improve more.”
Scores for both the Grand Prix and the Special at the World Games two years later were above 74 per cent.
“I never thought we would go so far,” Dani said.
Grandioso he described as having “a lot of life, very stallion-like who wants to control everything. He’s not a sweet horse. He normally says, ‘don’t touch me, leave me alone.’
“But when he shows he has great character, is very focused. Usually he is not scared of anything. He has a lot of talent for collection and is really good in the contact.”
Dani speaks highly of many Spanish rider that he describes as “artists and super talented” capable of producing Grand Prix horses but may need to compete more outside their homeland to polish technical aspects of dressage.
“The problem in Spain is that we don’t have sponsors,” he said, “we don’t have people who come and say, ‘We want to buy you a horse and pay for clinics and competitions to develop horses.” We have some good horses who stay at the national level.”
His next goal for Grandioso is the European Championships in Aachen, Germany with the aim of earning a team berth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“If everything is good,” he said, “we will have seven or eight horses to try to make a team for the Europeans. What is going to be hard is to qualify for Rio. We need top horses in top form. If we have one bad day it will be really hard.”
He has three younger horses owned by Hampton Green, including a half-brother to Fuego that was a sensation at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky.