Last Four Stars For Dunraths Alto
You can detect a bit of disappointment in Lauren O'Brien's voice when she describes her show jumping round at the Four Star Rolex Three Day Event held in Kentucky last week.
Dunraths Alto, O'Brien's partner for the past 10 years, had an uncharacteristically fault-laden show jumping round, pulling two rails for a total of eight faults. The pair had only one penalty in their career together until this event.
"It was a tough show jumping course," O'Brien said. "There were no ground lines, every jump was square and at the maximum height (4-foot-3)."
Besides the eight faults in show jumping, O'Brien and Guiness, as he is known around the barn, also had 14 time penalties in the cross country phase. Nevertheless, O'Brien moved up four places after show jumping to finish in 16th place overall for the event. It just wasn't in the stars for them to match or better their seventh-place finish last year.
There were some other factors that didn't help: The weather was hot early in the competition and the ground was harder than what the horse prefers.
"It basically wasn't his (Guiness') weekend," O'Brien said. "He peaked two weeks earlier. It was unfortunate he was slow (in cross country). The heat got to him and he just didn't fire up."
Since her horse is 17 years old, O'Brien feels like he may be getting too old to compete at the Four Star level. He will now be the mount for Audrey Bean, who is employed by O'Brien. Bean will ride him at the Two Star level.
"He's by no means ready to retire," O'Brien said. "Doing a Two Star for him will be like pony club, and it's an opportunity for someone else to appreciate him. He'll still be in my barn and he will be in a situation where I can control his fate. I will never part with him."
It was the sixth Four Star competition for Dunraths Alto. He's home safe and sound, looking at a promising Two Star career in front of him. Regardless of the number of stars before the name of the competition, he'll always be the brightest star to O'Brien.
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