FROM SHOW-JUMPING FAME TO THE RACETRACK

Those who closely follow horse racing are apt to know that Hall of Fame racehorse trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert were outstanding Quarter Horse trainers before making the transition to Thoroughbreds.  A trio of famed show-jumping riders also carved out second careers as Thoroughbred  trainers.

Toronto-based Roger Attfield was born in 1939 in Newbury, England, where he became an amateur steeplechase jockey and a professional show-jumping rider.  He emigrated to Canada in 1970 and soon began to train racehorses.

Attfield is an inductee in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, NY and has won an unparalleled six Sovereign Awards as Canada’s leading trainer.  Among many accomplishments, he has won the Canadian Triple Crown three of the six times it has been achieved.

The Show Jumping Hall of Fame is located at the Kentucky Horse Park.  The biographical entry for Laurel Park (Maryland)-based racehorse trainer Rodney Jenkins (born 1944) reads in part:

“Rodney Jenkins dominated the American show ring in the 1960s, ‘70s and through most of the ‘80s, and retired as the winningest rider in the history of U.S. show jumping.  The Virginian-born son of a famous horseman-huntsman, Jenkins grew up in the saddle and soon earned recognition as a ‘natural horseman’ who could ride just about any horse and get it to perform at its best.  Jenkins accumulated more than 70 grand prix victories in his illustrious career, and his longevity is what separates him from many other great equestrians.”

Michael Matz (born 1951), best known as the trainer of the star-crossed Barbaro, is also an inductee of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame.  An excerpt from his biographical sketch states:

“Michael Matz of Collegeville, Pennsylvania is a three-time Olympic and four-time Pan American Games veteran.  He won the USET Show Jumping Championship a record six times, and first represented the United States in international competition in 1973.  He competed in the 1976 Montreal, 1992 Barcelona, and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, winning a team Silver Medal in Atlanta.  Matz won eight Pan American Games medals, including five Gold, and rode in three World Championships where he won a team Gold Medal in 1986, as well as team and individual Bronze Medals in 1978.   In 1981 and 1984, he was the American Grandprix Association (AGA) Rider of the Year.  Matz was also a two-time AGA Show Jumping Champion in 1991 and 1992.”

The Lukas/Baffert move from Quarter Horse racing to Thoroughbred racing did not involve a steep learning curve.  By contrast, the elite world of show jumping that Attfield, Jenkins, and Matz hailed from is quite different from Thoroughbred horse racing.  The requisite skills of a world-class show-jumping rider are not the same as required for a racehorse trainer.  But Attfield, Jenkins, and Matz made the leap.

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The Blood-Horse reported that Ahmed Zayat, owner of American Pharoah, rode show jumpers while growing up in Egypt.

Copyright © 2015 Horse Racing Business

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