Chase Hickok to Compete Sagacious at Age 19 for USA World Games Team
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 10, 2018–Sagacious HF that Chase Hickok leased to compete in the international Under-25 division four years ago begins a campaign this week to seek a spot on the American World Equestrian Games team–at 19 years old that could make the horse one of the oldest ever to start at a world championship if successful.
After an outstanding 2017 in which Chase and the KWPN gelding competed on two United States Nations Cup teams in Europe with scores that put the pair among the top half-dozen American combinations, Sagacious has had a break of more than five months before the decision was made to even set a competition schedule for this year.
“What’s been really cool,” said the 27 year-old Chase who is based in Wellington with Sagacious, “is that since Europe Sagacious is now offering a whole other level of ability.
“What we learned last summer is that we found a sweet spot. We could make some small but important changes–mostly to my riding—-to move up to the next level, add a couple of percentage points in the Grand Prix.
“Sagacious absolutely wants to do it. When he’s not competing he gets restless; I think he gets bored. As soon as he knows he’s being prepared for a show, it’s like a switch flips. He comes out of hibernation.
“He says, ‘I’m ready, let’s do this’.”
Sagacious, the initials HF stands for Al Guden’s Hyperion Farm that owns the horse, is one of a number of “aging heroes,” well trained, their health maintained by the best practices that continue to perform at top sport.
Donnperignon, the Finnish Warmblood gelding, also became 19 this year but whether the horse will go to the World Games in Tryon, North Carolina in September is uncertain as rider Anna Kasprzak is expecting her first child at the end of April.
If Anna decides to return to training after the baby and earns a place on Denmark’s team for Tryon that would be nine championships for Donnperignon–the 2010 World Games and 2011 European Championships with Christoph Koschel on German teams then the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and 2014 WEG as well as the 2013, 2015 and 2017 Europeans with Anna. That would match the number of championships by Gigolo competed by German superstar Isabell Werth.
And Sagacious will have another 19-year-old to contest at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival–the popular gray gelding D Niro that Canada’s Jacqueline Brooks took to the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 World Cup Final in the horse’s home country of Sweden. Jacqueline told dressage-news.com she has not declared for the WEG.
Sagacious was first competed at U.S. national levels in 2004 before Lauren Sammis of South Orange, New Jersey took over the ride.
In one of the most memorable moments in a championship, owner Al Guden stayed home in the United States with his wife, Judy, stricken with terminal cancer while Lauren took Sagacious to the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. The pair won team gold and individual silver.
Two years later, Sagacious was being competed at Grand Prix.
In 2013, Caroline Roffman took over the ride at Under-25, winning four times in four starts then going to the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany where the rider who was named the FEI Rising Star and Sagacious placed second in both the U-25 Grand Prix and Freestyle.
Then Chase became the rider and developed a relationship with Sagacious that was noticeably harmonious and enough to be successful pursuing her Under-25 goals on both sides of the Atlantic before moving up to Big Tour in 2017 for a full year at Grand Prix in Florida and Europe.
After becoming snarled in U.S. quarantine rules on return home that briefly threatened survival of Sagacious, Chase took the horse to pre-elite sessions with U.S. team coach Robert Dover.
Despite the odds, Chase begins her campaign with a warmup national Grand Prix this week then four CDIs including the 5* and the Nations Cup during the Global circuit through winter with the goal of making the WEG squad of four combinations and a reserve.
She did a major update of their freestyle with increased degree of difficulty for the first time in a decade.
“We certainly have our work cut out for us,” she said, “but he’s super fit and sound.”
The schedule of training with her coach for the past years is Endel Ots with three days of arena work and hacks three days a week, and a complete day off.
The purpose is to keep Sagacious’s legs fresh and his mind not jaded so he is willing to work.
“At this point in our training it’s these tiny details that is night and day between this time last year and now,” Chase said.
“The experience for me this summer was really important. It really opened my eyes. There so much more in the tank with him and it’s been great that I did him justice at his age.”
She credits both Lauren Sammis and Caroline Roffman with being supportive of her efforts.
“It’s really cool for me that they both genuinely want what’s best for Sagacious.”
Sagacious, Chase said, “is both physically and mentally up to the challenge and he enjoys what he is doing. He loves to compete. And I don’t think he’s ever been as sound.
“We have to tap into it at show grounds; it’s another gear.
“He’s naturally a performer and competitor.
Whenever Sagacious is ready for retirement or the next stage in his career, she said she will honor that.