United States Equestrian Team Foundation Awards Michael Pollard and Icarus with Gladstone Challenge Trophy
RELEASE: May 15, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Jennifer Wood
The USET Foundation is pleased to announce that Michael Pollard of Dalton, GA, won the Gladstone Challenge Trophy at the National Open Spring Championship. Pollard rode his horse Icarus, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, to the CCI*** victory at Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event in Allentown, NJ.
Pollard joins an elite group of riders that have won the Gladstone Challenge Trophy in its 45-year history. Of having his name on the trophy, Pollard said, "It means a lot. I like to study the past and understand the history of the sport. I think that's important if you want to be a great rider, to understand what made great riders before you. Having my name on the Gladstone trophy is incredible. There are certain trophies that are special in our sport. I was lucky enough as a young rider to get my name on the Markham trophy twice. That's always been really special. Obviously the Gladstone trophy is even more of an achievement for me. To have my name on there with all the other great riders—it doesn't get any better than that."
Pollard and Icarus started out the competition at Jersey Fresh in third place after the dressage phase. They added just 2.4 time faults in cross-country to move into the lead. Going into the stadium jumping round, they had a rail in hand. They finished double clear with a score of 46 for the win.
"The horse went beautifully," Pollard remarked. "I didn't know what to expect for the jumping, but honestly he could not have jumped any better. When I jumped the second-to-last fence and knew I had a rail in hand, it was really an amazing feeling. I was reflecting on it on the way home, that it's been 10 years since I did my first CCI. To win one is something that a lot of really good horses and riders don't ever get. For it to come together like that for me was really special."
Pollard and Icarus won the Pine Top Spring Advanced Horse Trials and Pine Top Winter II Horse Trials this year before heading to Jersey Fresh. The pair is relatively new, although Icarus has been in Pollard's barn for six years. His wife Nathalie campaigned him through 2007 and brought him up to the advanced level. When she became pregnant, the horse went to Will Coleman to ride, who piloted him to fourth place at Jersey Fresh in 2007. After time off and some intermediate competitions, Pollard and Icarus started competing together at the advanced level this spring.
"He's just a fantastic horse; he's really quite good at every phase. He's the best in all three phases that I've ever sat on," Pollard revealed. "He makes you look like you know what you're doing. With that, combined with the work that Nathalie did at home, he was just beautifully prepared."
Their win at Jersey Fresh gave them a qualifying score to compete at the four-star level. Pollard is still contemplating whether he will compete at a four-star this fall in Europe. "Hopefully he'll come through the competition well. Barring any injuries or setbacks, we would look at trying to go to Europe and do a fall four-star event. We haven't made a decision on Burghley (England) or Pau (France)," he explained. "Burghley is a dream for any rider to get to. This is a horse that deserves to be in competition with the best in the world. I really believe that he is one of the better horses in the world, and I'd love to have him at one of those bigger competitions."
Although Pollard has not represented the United States on a team yet, it is one of his goals. The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are on the horizon, but still far enough away for Pollard. He said, "I hope to represent the U.S. some time. We'll do our best to manage him to have him ready for the WEG competition, but a lot of that is not in my hands. We'll just do our best!"
The United States Equestrian Team Foundation (www.uset.org) is the non-profit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educatio