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The four-legged stars of `Vegas

Many top horses will vie Nov. 15-20 at the Las Vegas Nat'l; here are four

By Pam Maley / for the Horsetrader - November 3rd, 2016 - Show & Event News
Peter Lutz will try to take Robin de Ponthual to a repeat victory at the Las Vegas National.

Peter Lutz will try to take Robin de Ponthual to a repeat victory at the Las Vegas National.

Amy McCool photo

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — In addition to a number of well-known riders, an amazing lineup of four-legged celebrities will also be making their way to the South Point Equestrian Arena for The Las Vegas National CSI4*-W in Nov. 15-20.

Robin de Ponthual once again will be partnered with Peter Lutz to try for two Las Vegas wins in a row; Capital Colnardo will be competing with recent double-Longines FEI World Cup Jumping class winner Audrey Coulter; The Dude and his bodacious riding partner, Will Simpson, are coming to play; and Lordan will gallop around the course with Nayel Nassar, just to mention four of many.

Robin de Ponthual
McLain Ward’s storied Castle Hill Farm and Peter Lutz’s home barn in North Salem, N.Y. are only a few farms apart. The two riders, former teen-age riding buddies, are good friends and often work together, with Ward welcoming Lutz’s overflow horses to his barn, and Lutz frequently helping Ward with riding.

In 2014, Ward brought home a Selle Français gelding that had caught his eye, and the minute Lutz climbed aboard, there was an instant synergy. Robin de Ponthual had found his rider, and Katherine Gallagher and Michael Mellor purchased him for Lutz the same year.

The partnership came together in 2015 with a win in last years’ $100,000 Longines World Cup Qualifier at the Las Vegas National, followed by a top 20 finish at the World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Lutz, who has trained a number of top horses and riders over the years, is deserving of this time in the limelight. For the first time in his career, he has an international-level horse that he can hold onto.

“We’ve been bringing him along for the last year,” he said. “I’m really excited. He just keeps getting better and jumping clear rounds.”

Consistently in the ribbons in major competitions on the East Coast, in June Robin brought his owners’ dreams to life, as he and Lutz galloped to their first CSI5* victory – their biggest yet – when they topped the three-horse jump-off in the prestigious $375,000 CP Grand Prix CSI5* at Spruce Meadows.
Now, with those wins to his credit and his trusted partner on his back, Robin is pointed to Las Vegas, where he and Lutz hope to jump to a second Vegas win.

Capital Colnardo
A recent college graduate (Dartmouth ’15), Northern California’s Audrey Coulter successfully navigated the difficult juggling act of keeping up with her riding while tending to her studies.

About two years ago, she heard about a 9-year-old Holsteiner stallion in South Africa that seemed to have great potential. Audrey’s sister, Saer, who was also an international show jumper, flew down to Mauritius to try him, and immediately recognized his talent. Capital Colnardo began his long journey to America.

Now 11 years old, the stunning and scopey bay stallion and his rider are on a hot streak with wins at the Sacramento International, CSI3*-W in the Thursday Grand Prix Qualifier and the highlight Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Sacramento, followed closely by a win at the Del Mar International, CSI3*-W’s Intuit Grand Prix Qualifier.

“He’s incredibly special, the most talented horse I’ve ever sat on,” says Coulter. “He’s so careful, so scopey, and he has such a good brain. He can jump anything. He’s really going places, I think.”

Adding to the sparkle of the South Point Equestrian Arena, this winning pair will be in Las Vegas, where they will vie for yet another victory gallop in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Las Vegas, presented by Interactive Mortgage, on Saturday night.

The Dude
Imported from Europe to Colorado in the 1980’s, The Dude inadvertently found his rider when he was purchased by Nicoletta von Heidegger in 2014. Originally found by Will Simpson for Nicoletta to ride, the then 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding with his easygoing demeanor, yet “Im cool” attitude, was aptly named The Dude.

With career pressures demanding her time, she handed over the reins to her trainer, Simpson, and The Dude had his rider.

Simpson, a Gold-medal Olympian, had been the anchor rider in the 2008 Olympics, and clinched Gold for the U.S. aboard another horse he had brought along, Carlsson Vom Dach, who was subsequently sold. When The Dude came along, he knew that this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses.

When Simpson climbed aboard, and the two entered the grand prix arena, The Dude and Simpson were clearly in sync. 2015 was an amazing year, and the wins kept coming. Earlier this year, he was sold to Nicole (Nikki) Walker of Canada, a young amateur from Canada. A horsewoman who understands the synchronicity of a good match, Walker realized that although she had a great horse, he really came to life with Simpson in the saddle, and she asked him to re-take the reins.

The reunion was instantaneous, and The Dude and Simpson, happily together again, began posting win after win. Beginning in June 2016, from Canada to Colorado to California, the victory gallops ensued.

Simpson’s favorite story about The Dude is the way his name came into being.

“Nicoletta named him that, and he’s taken on that persona,” Simpson says. “He was incredible right from the start – he led the pack. I had three grand prix horses showing in Thermal last year (2015). He was the least experienced, and he showed them all how it’s done.

“He’s The Dude.”
And now, The Dude and Simpson will be in Las Vegas, where they will add their names to the list of show jumping superstars competing at The Las Vegas National CSI4*-W.

This pair will definitely light up the South Point Equestrian Arena and heat up the competition.

Now a 13-year-old, this Hanoverian gelding was a spooky, undersized 6-year-old when Nayel Nassar found him in Hungary. Once sold to another rider, and then returned because he didn’t like the liverpools – how Lordan, with Nassar’s guidance, has changed!

In him, Nassar saw potential that others didn’t, and he took him home to California. In bringing him along, they developed a deep bond and abiding trust. By 2013 they had a few wins, and both both were young, Lordan only nine, Nassar just 22 and entering his final quarter at Stanford, when they entered the 2013 Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties — and won.

The course contained an open water, but with his trusted partner aboard, Lordan flew over it without hesitation. Virtual unknowns in the upper echelons of show jumping, with their win in the HITS Million, they burst onto the scene and soon their charm and Nassar’s ready smile endeared them to show jumping fans.

2014 was a year of successes, until an injury sidelined Lordan through 2015. Returning in this year, Lordan once again began lighting up the leaderboards, proving he was competition-ready and better than ever.

Smart and a touch sassy, Lordan has learned that when he gets braided, something big is going to happen, and he rises to the occasion. So look for his braided mane in the show ring at The Las Vegas National, CSI4*-W. He and Nassar will be ones to watch.

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