An unsung racehorse just four years off the track won two blue ribbons last weekend in the kind of dressage competition few horses, of any breed, ever attain.
Real Gentleman, a low-claimer who ran 41 races bouncing between Boston’s Suffolk Downs and the Finger Lakes racetrack played such a winning hand in two Prix St. Georges shows last weekend that even the judges gushed, a little, in the collective remarks portion of the score sheet.
“A pleasure to watch such lovely basics,” wrote the judge, who was among those giving the OTTB the highest scores in FEI rated shows, Oyster River 1 and Oyster River 2, at the University of New Hampshire’s show grounds in Durham, N.H.
Barn name: Rio
Sire: Gone for Real
Dam: Sunshine Star, by Star de Naskra
Foal date: Feb. 5, 2006Upon reading words like that, so rarely given by a judge for any horse, owner Ann Seamonds felt as though “storybook karma” had been at play. “We’ve only had him for four-and-a-half years, so I think it’s truly remarkable that he has not only competing at Prix St. Georges, but he won two blue ribbons after his debut in June.”
Real Gentleman scored a 68.81 in the Oyster River 1, beating nine other horses, and a 66.44 in Oyster River 2, beating six other horses. He also won the Jockey Club TIP Award, an honor bestowed upon high performance ex-racehorses turned sport horses.
Though his acquired skill set, which is propelling the dark bay up the FEI ranks, is not found in many horses, this gelding just has the mind for it —“I think the mind is the most important thing,” says Seamonds. And, he has the hands-on training of Pan Am Games-winning dressage rider Mary Howard of Brentwood, N.H., and the talent of rider Bethany Larsen. And perhaps a little something extra.
“I always felt there was something bigger at play with this horse. I’m one of those people who think things happen for a reason. And the other day when I was talking with his old racetrack owner Christopher Trakas, I became even more convinced,” she says. Before the gelding’s name was registered with the Jockey Club as Real Gentleman, his foal name was Six Stars. And, the horse now trains at Five Stars Farm, where he is truly a star in his own right. “I got goose bumps when Christopher found the foal papers and told me his original name was Six Stars. It’s so weird.”
Saying she was “blown away” by her gelding’s relaxed and confident performance over the weekend, the team has now set its sites on the Longfellow Dressage show in Nottingham, N.H., Seamonds is enjoying a fairy tale ride she never expected from the low-claimer she bought directly from Christopher Trakas.
“If you could have seen him, he was incredible. It was so hot that we walked him off the trailer, did a brief 10 minute warm-up, and he went right into the ring,” Seamonds says. “I think he put in his better performance in that show. He was so relaxed it was if he said, ‘I’ve got this. You just sit back and enjoy it.’ ”