By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Feb. 9–Katherine Bateson-Chandler’s plan for Alcazar has moved into a higher gear after a visit from her longtime coach Carl Hester and it showed in a national Prix St. Georges Saturday that she views as a stepping stone to the Grand Prix within a year.
In her second show since returning with the KWPN gelding (Contango x Polina x Ferro) from six month’s at Carl’s training center in England, Katherine and Alcazar, who just turned eight years old, scored 73.553 per cent at the WCD Spring Challenge.
The competition was the first since Carl’s visit two weeks ago when, she said, “he kicked me in the butt. It was very helpful. I’m the sort of rider that didn’t want to push too hard. He’s only just turned eight.
“Carl said, ‘just get on with it. Think of him as a Grand Prix horse and not a small tour horse’.”
Now, Katherine said, she is working on the Grand Prix movements at home, but he knew bits and pieces of the Big Tour when the horse was bought for Katherine to ride by Jane Forbes Clark after the retirement of Nartan that Katherine rode on the United States team at the World Equestrian Games in 2010.
Alcazar, she said, is quite a bit stronger and fitter–and he showed more power in both the warmup and competition arenas.
“When I got him he was elegant but did not have the power,” she said. “But Charlotte (Dujardin, who works with Carl) said he reminds her of Valegro” on whom she won both team and individual gold medals at last summer’s Olympics in London.
“I keep the vision of Valegro in my mind every day I ride him,” Katherine said.
She plans to go to England this summer “to put my nose to the grind stone” preparing for the Grand Prix.
“It would be lovely to have the Grand Prix next season. It would be nice to be in a position to make a bid for the team for the WEG in Normandy next year. But I don’t know if that is realistic. We’ll see how he comes along.
“I don’t want to put on pressure beyond what his mind and body can take. I want to have this horse for a lifetime.”
“Lonzi,” as the horse is still nicknamed based on his original name of Lorenzo, has no front teeth–he lost them when he ran into a wall as a youngster.
She described him as cheeky but very loveable with the self confidence of a Shetland pony.
Lars Petersen, the Wellington, Florida-based Danish rider, and Mariett won the CDI3* Grand Prix Special with a score of 70.458 per cent with Bernd Schopf of Germany and De Value second on 66.729 per cent and Canada’s William Lee Tubman and Delight third on 63.688 per cent.
CDI Grand Prix Special results: CDI Grand Prix Special Scores