Katherine Bateson Shows Alcazar in Florida for 1st USA Competition
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Jan. 20–Katherine Bateson-Chandler rode Alcazar in the first American competition for the eight-year-old KWPN gelding on Sunday, at Prix St. Georges in a CDN that confirmed the horse’s “very good brain” in handling his first covered arena at a busy show grounds and changing weather.
The good hind legs that Katherine sees as the second vital characteristic for a dressage competition horse were on display in the performance before two judges that gave the pair a score of 69.605 per cent.
Katherine brought Alcazar (Contango x Polina x Ferro) home to Wellington, Florida, last November after six months training with Olympic team gold medal winner Carl Hester at his farm in England. Their only previous show was a small local event in England.
Although he is described on his official passport as black-bay, the hot Florida sun has made him more bay than black.
Alcazar was bought last year for Katherine to compete by longtime sponsor Jane Forbes Clark, who has jumpers with Great Britain’s Olympic gold medalist Ben Maher, and driving horses with Chester Weber.
She worked for several years as an assistant to Robert Dover, a six-time Olympian for the United States, and had developed several young horses for other riders.
This is the first young horse Jane bought specially for Katherine to develop her way.
The Gold Coast Dressage Opener this weekend “was my first real show,” the British-born Katherine said after the ride that took longer than expected to happen because of concerns over footing in outdoor arenas in the rain on Saturday. On Sunday, the weather had turned sunny and hot, typical of Florida.
“I was happy that after three days of being real hard at it he did so well. He’s still green but I think he showed a lot of poise and that’s exciting.”
Casrtl Hester has described Katherine and Alcazar as a partnership that fits into his program that includes not only the horses he competes but Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro that won individual gold as well as the team gold as his team mate at the London Games last summer.
Katherine, British-born but an American citizen who rode for the United States at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010, said of Alcazar, “He has a very good brain. Nowadays. for horse sports you need horses with a very good brain and hind legs. That’s what we looked for because I realized over time that’s what is important.”
The plan–“ever-changing,” as she said all horse people understand–is to compete Alcazar at small tour in five or six shows this Florida winter circuit, likely a couple of national shows before moving to CDIs.
She hopes to return to Europe in the spring to compete at some international competition then might return for the U.S. championships in Kentucky in October. Otherwise, she will stay in Europe for another couple of months “and start tapping away at the Grand Prix.”
“That depends on the horse,” she said. “I’m a big believer that the horse tells you whether it fits into his plan. There is no forcing it to fit your plan.”
Gold Coast Opener Results for Sunday