A T’bred tapped twice on the withers by fate

The un-raced Thoroughbred was purchased by Michael Dignelli of Heritage Farm, a premiere hunter/jumper facility.

The un-raced Thoroughbred was purchased by Michael Dignelli of Heritage Farm, a premiere hunter/jumper facility.

A Thoroughbred gelding, who was “tapped twice on the withers by fate,” has transitioned from a top race trainer to a premier hunter/jumper team on his way to making a mark among elite show horses, and possibly as a breed ambassador.

Bold Charger, a bay gelding who sold as a 2-year-old for nearly $300,000, and who trained with Hall of Famer Bill Mott at one point, has been welcomed into the rarified show barns of Heritage Farm of N.Y., a facility operated by Michael and Andre Dignelli, who were named the 2011 Show Hunter Horsemen of the Year by the Chronicle of the Horse.

Bold Charger
Show name: Boscobel
Barn name: William
Sire: War Chant
Dam: Royal G G, by Royal Academy
Foal date: April 9, 2011
“In my mind, fate tapped him on the withers a couple of times,” says Michael Dignelli, who co-owns the hunter/jumper facility with his brother Andre, a Pan American Games bronze medalist and luminary of the sport. “Because of his pedigree and conformation, he was trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott. And then he found his way to Heritage Farm, and is now being trained with one of the top hunter/jumper trainers.”

Though the brothers now work with high-level Warmbloods and sport horses, they grew up riding Thoroughbreds. And it was Michael Dignelli’s fond memories, combined with his growing awareness of efforts to promote the breed, that inspired him to take a leap of faith last July and purchase Bold Charger.

Bold Charger proved to be uncomplicated to train, and at home as a rare Thoroughbred at WEG hunter/jumpers recently. Photo by Anne Gittins

Bold Charger proved to be uncomplicated to train, and at home as a rare Thoroughbred at WEF hunter/jumpers recently. Photo by Anne Gittins

“I became interested in Thoroughbreds again after I started seeing the work being done by the Retired Racehorse Project,” which promotes the OTTB through horse shows, education, and trainer challenges, “and last year, when they held their show at the Kentucky Horse Park, I started to look for a horse,” he says. “I didn’t go to the track, but I looked online and through friends.”

At one point, he says, his brother turned to him and asked, “Why are you doing this again?” And his ready response was, “You know, it reminds me of our past as kids. So please just humor me.”

But nobody was laughing when Bold Charger, whose show name is Boscobel, ribboned against Warmbloods in Wellington!

Debuting at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Fla., the 5-year-old gelding showed in the baby green and low hunter divisions, and then transitioned to 2’6” and 2’9,” says Dignelli, who notes that he was brave to the jumps and earned low ribbons over the jumps.

Bold Charger (show name: Boscobel, in the under saddle class at WEG. Photo by Michael Dignelli

Bold Charger (show name: Boscobel, in the under saddle class at WEF. Photo by Michael Dignelli

“I really love him,” Dignelli says. “Here’s a horse that I bought through Facebook, who arrived in Wellington among all the top show horses, and he gets ribbons!”

After trying several horses, he selected Bold Charger based on videos and photos showing the cool, calm collected manner of a horse who was naturally quiet and unflustered by “traffic” in the show ring, he says.

If the very pretty gelding keeps it up, he may make an ideal small junior hunter, he adds.

“Once upon a time, as a horse person, I bought a Thoroughbred mare for $450. I named her Ariel and I showed her. People were doing more of that then, and she was a fun horse,” he says, adding that his newest Thoroughbred underscores his opinion that Thoroughbreds “still have a relevance in the show horse world.”

“I know that he is an ambassador for other horses,” he says. “I hope he’ll inspire other people.”

*Michael Dignelli blogs about his experiences with Bold Charger in the Chronicle of the Horse: http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/william-makes-his-show-debut-wef

4 responses to “A T’bred tapped twice on the withers by fate”

  1. Mary McLeod

    I love the comment Michael made to his brother when asked why he was doing this again. Reconnecting with treasured childhood memories is so very important and is great stress management. Bon chance to Michael and Boscobel. Thoroughbreds rule!!! xoxo, Mary in Boone

  2. colmel

    Sometimes it’s worth remembering that more than one Thoroughbred has won an Olympic medal and shown in the top ranks of the show jumping world. Even a small mare has brought glory. Thoroughbreds are the most versatile of breeds, and should be recognized and appreciated as such.

  3. Marilyn and Robin Hannah

    We need more of these trainers to join us in welcoming the thoroughbred back into our programs….that’s all it will take! Hurrah!.

  4. Gail Rogers

    Wonderful story.
    Thank you for giving him a chance. TBs have always been the supreme athlete of the horse world. They were in the past, and they deserve the recognition and the opportunity to be there again.
    I am a breeder who has based my whole breeding program on the mighty Thoroughbred horse, and I believe in them with all my heart.
    One of my homebreds went on to be a winning GP jumper – as so many TBs were in the past.
    Best of luck to him.

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