With a nod toward the flashy gelding quietly munching hay in his Fair Hill barn, Dublin native Carl Doran smiled at head rider Asia Vedder, and with a twinkle, asked if she could picture herself riding around the Badminton Horse Trials on him.
“Why?” she replied. “Is he for sale?”
And so the wheels were set in motion to change the fate of one poorly performing chestnut Thoroughbred named Gaelic Wealth, just like that.
“I went back to the barn to look at him, and he had a nice, big loose trot and was very clean legged,” Vedder says. “He seemed to have a really good brain, too. I watched him walk up to the track and he was very calm.
“So, Carl said that depending on how he ran, he’d be interested in selling him.”
Shortly after a mediocre effort on the track, Gaelic Wealth gave the most incredible performance of a different type, back on the same track, after Vedder’s riding coach tacked him up and really “put the screws to him” to test him as a prospective riding horse, she says.
Barn name: Gaylord Focker
Sire: Galloping Gale
Dam: Personal Wealth, by Personal Flag
Foal date: April 2008“My coach asked him to work so hard, to get really round, to pick up the correct leads, and to work in a really small circle,” she says.
“A lot of racehorses just off the track don’t react well when you ask them to do what my coach was asking for, but he reacted so well; he wanted to figure everything out and when it got too hard for him, the only thing he did was groan a little.”
By late fall 2011, the unwavering horse was hers.
She immediately put him on a low-stress walking regimen for 60 days to help heal a small tendon injury, and two weeks after he was declared to be in perfect condition, Vedder entered him in his first little event. And he won.
“In that first event, he did the 18-inch division, and had never been in a dressage class or competed in show jumping, but he went out, jumped around, and won it,” she says.
Gaelic Wealth, who she nicknamed Gaylord Focker, after Ben Stiller’s
character in the movie Meet The Fockers, has been so easy to train, it’s as though he came equipped with the personality to do dressage.
“He loves Eventing!” she says. “He’s one of those horses who doesn’t change, whether he’s working at home, or competing in the ring. He gets crazy dressage scores, partly because he just doesn’t change: he’s so consistent.”
He is also consistently in the money, climbing the levels. In October he went Preliminary Level at Morven Park after first winning the Training Division at Millbrook. Competing against 500 other horses, Gaelic Wealth delivered a rare performance, and has competed in three Preliminary events.
He scored so well in dressage that only two other horses came close, she says.
And he gets noticed. At 17.2 hands, with a big, leggy stride and a consistent pace, even the top riders notice, she says, adding, “A lot of people have come up to me and said, ‘Wow! I really like your horse!’ ”
She does too. Not a bad deal that she made that day at Fair Hill.
“It is funny how an offhand comment can be so portentous. I don’t think any of us realized,when Carl asked me if I could see myself going around Badminton on the horse, how accurate that would be, ” she says.
“Little did I know when I took Gaylord home, that my potential resale project was going to turn into my next, highly competitive, upper level horse, with a real shot at going all the way to the four-star level. I just liked his type, but as we have all realized— he is one Serious event horse!”