Storybook karma leads OTTB to the top

Real Gentleman won 2 blue ribbons last weekend in Prix St. Georges competition.

Real Gentleman won 2 blue ribbons last weekend in Prix St. Georges competition. Photo by and courtesy of Susan Correia

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.

Real Gentleman
Barn name: Rio
Sire: Gone for Real
Dam: Sunshine Star, by Star de Naskra
Foal date: Feb. 5, 2006
Upon 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.

Rio wins top honors last weekend in Prix St. Georges. Photo by and courtesy of Susan Correia

Rio wins top honors last weekend in Prix St. Georges. Photo by and courtesy of Susan Correia

“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.’ ”

11 responses to “Storybook karma leads OTTB to the top”

  1. Dory Munder

    Just thrilled to see an OTTB star in dressage!! He looks FAB-U-LOUS!

  2. Heidi Jones

    Bethany should certainly be considered a bright star in Rio’s growth and successes, as well! For him to develop so quickly into such a high-level competitor, she must be doing a whole lotta something right! 🙂 Good job, Bethany – and congratulations!

  3. Mary McLeod

    When you wish upon a star, you might just find a special star just waiting to shine, just for you!!! I LOVE this story, Susan. Bon chance to Rio, Ann, Mary, and Bethany, Mary in Boone

  4. Anita Adamski for North American Thoroughbred Society

    Real Gentleman and Bethany Larsen are solid competitors, they had a successful 2015 as well:

    North American Thoroughbred Society’s North American Series Nat’l Dressage Fourth Level Champion

    USDF/NATBS All-Breeds, 64.742%, Fourth Level Open Champion
    USDF/NATBS All-Breeds, 64.742%, Fourth Level Open Champion

    NEDA Year End Award, 66.806%, Fourth Level Open Sixth Place

    TJC T.I.P. Fourth Level Dressage High Point Award, UNH June Dressage Show
    TJC T.I.P. Thoroughbred (Overall), UNH June Dressage Show
    TJC T.I.P. Thoroughbred (Overall), Longfellow Dressage Show
    TJC T.I.P. Thoroughbred (Overall),Oyster River Dressage at UNH I
    TJC T.I.P. Year End Dressage Fourth Level Reserve Champion

    * * *

  5. Constance Hartman

    Great work Real Gentleman congratulations on winning 2 blue ribbons. The Prix St. George. Owner Ann Seamonands I hope you will be keeping Rio around for a couple of years. Your a very good owner. Your choice of rider’s is going for the best with Mary Howard and Bethany Larson. What nice win in The Club Tip Award. Susan Correia your pictures are beautiful.

    1. Ann Seamonds

      Thank you, Constance. He will continue to compete for as long as he is happy and healthy in his work, and he will continue to be part of my family when it’s time for him to retire.

  6. Carolyn McDonald

    Always lovely to see an ex-racehorse have a life after racing, a very lucky horse. It is sad though to see that he is experiencing discomfort from the gear in his mouth with the double reins.

    1. Ann Seamonds

      Hi Carolyn, he is not experiencing any discomfort with the double bridle. We are very careful with the fit and his rider has very soft hands. I think what you are seeing is him softly chewing on the bit during the walk work. But thank you for caring about his welfare.

  7. Susan Galvan

    So happy for you and Rio. Such a lovely pair. ❤

  8. tbdancer

    Super story of a “melding of the stars” to give this OTTB a place to truly shine. Good job, Susan!

    1. Susan Salk

      tbdancer, thank you! stories like this make my heart sing. I have to report the rescues, of course. They’re important. But THIS. Wow. Glorious.

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