by Fran Jurga | 24 April 2010 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
If you follow eventing, you probably already know who Oliver Townend is. But for many casual fans, the young British rider is a mystery--who is this fellow everyone is talking about? The winner of the 2009 Badminton and Burghley 4-star three-day events in Great Britain, who was on his way to a possible sweep of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, really made a name for himself today, with a spectacular fall at the Kentucky Horse Park's The Hollow.
Amazingly, both Oliver and his talented horse, the young Ashdale Cruise Master, recovered. Townend is currently in the top ten on his second horse, ODT Master Rose, and hopes to be riding in the show jumping on Sunday.
This superstar of the eventing world is the son of a milkman from Yorkshire, and his Cinderella-like rise to fame at a young age means that we will hopefully have many years to get to know him better. He's been a terrific inspiration to a lot of people in the sport.
The short video he's supplied us will show you his yard in Shropshire, England and you can meet some of his horses and hear of his hopes for this weekend in Lexington.
Oliver almost didn't make it to Lexington to ride in the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at all. He was stuck in England, waiting out the volcano cloud, until just a few days before the event started. He took a train to Paris, and then hired a taxi driver and paid him $1400 to drive him from Paris to Madrid, where he caught a plane to Miami, and then made his way to Lexington.
If you would like to, you can see a video of Oliver Townend's actual fall on the cross-country course today. That is a link to the Point Two inflatable jacket manufacturer's video of his fall, but I thought it might be a little too upsetting for people to watch on this blog.
It seems there's never a dull moment for Oliver Townend. Whether he can bounce back from his fall and ride his backup horse to capture the Rolex Grand Slam of eventing is the question of the day. The other horses in front of his have to trot up sound on Sunday morning, and anything can happen in the jumping ring, especially if the weather is as wild as it has been tonight. In a few hours' time we'll know the answer to those questions! Stay tuned!