By Jan Westmark
Jumping to the top of the eventing world is no easy feat but William Fox-Pitt, who won last year’s Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and is featured on our cover, manages to make it look easy. He had a stellar 2014 and ended the year ranked number one in the FEI World Eventing Athlete Rankings.
I’ve always been amazed when William gallops by on the cross-country course at Rolex. He rides with such ease, as if he’s taking a ride in a back field, popping over little jumps along the way. I think the mark of an excellent horseman is having the ability to make riding look effortless — and William does that.
Every time William dismounts, I’m always shocked at how tall he is. His height of 6 feet 5.5 inches seems to disappear when he’s on a horse, but I did see a great photo of him jumping through a fence that had a top on it — he had to duck!
William recently held a clinic hosted by Stable View Farm in Aiken, South Carolina, and several of the riders from the University of South Carolina Aiken Eventing Team had the chance to audit the clinic. Eventing team member Marrisa Collins said William sat next to her during lunch and was happy to answer all of the questions the USC Aiken students asked him. “He was very charming and confident and during the clinic he made the auditors laugh many times,” Marissa said.
While William is at the top of the FEI World Eventing Athlete Rankings, American rider Buck Davidson isn’t far behind — landing in fifth place as the top American rider. As the son of legendary eventer Buck Davidson, eventing is in Buck’s blood.
The FEI world rankings mean a great deal to the riders, and it’s thrilling to see Buck in the top five. Buck didn’t achieve his high ranking because of his name though — he earned that accolade! His FEI rankings over the years include second in the world in 2010 and sixth in 2006.
In 2014 Buck topped the U.S. Eventing Association’s leaderboard with a runaway score, and his equine partner, Ballynoe Castle RM, earned the United States Eventing Association High Scoring Horse of All Time.
Buck, who was recently married, is also known for being polite and courteous. A friend who has interviewed him over the years said, “Buck is very articulate and focused but also interesting and fun. He seems to be riding better then ever.”
Good luck to all of the riders at Rolex this year — I’m hoping everyone stays safe and gallops around with ease.