Tales from Kentucky: ‘I lost my best friend, so I’m wearing these colours so she can be here with me’

  • Five-star first-timer Booli Selmayr had multiple reasons to be emotional as she finished her dressage at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event yesterday.

    The 34-year-old US rider revealed after her test that she was wearing a stock specially made to feature the blue and black cross-country colours of her best friend, eventing coach Jessica Halliday, who died of cancer last October.

    “She wanted me to get here so I have these colours so she can be at Kentucky with me,” said Booli. “She was a huge trainer in Area 1 and an amazing person.”

    Booli said she was so busy trying to keep her horse Millfield Lancando calm, she didn’t quite realise where she was until her test was over.

    “Then it was emotional,” she said. “It’s a lot to get here and a lot of people support you along the way.

    “It was electric in here and ‘Lance’ is a very shy horse, but he really tried to pull himself together and listen to me as best he could, so I’m also emotional because he tried his little heart out. I’m really proud of him.”

    Booli is looking forward to getting out on the cross-country course tomorrow.

    “That’s definitely more our thing than dressage and the course looks amazing. I’ve been at beautiful tracks before, but there’s nothing like Kentucky. The footing is amazing and the jumps are so clean and clear and big and beautiful.”

    The 15-year-old Millfield Lancando has been with Booli Selmayr for about six years. He was imported from Ireland by Kevin Keane, the American vet who rides at the top level, and who said he thought the horse would be a good match for Booli.

    The rider said: “Lance is very shy and likes to hang out in his stall. But he really likes his one person, which is Anna Ciampaglione, who has been working for me for about a year and a half. He will give a little nicker when she’s walking away, it’s really sweet. He’s come out of his shell a bit more since Anna joined the team – he’s started trying to be cheeky and asking for treats, which is very bold for him.”

    Booli says she has a secret weapon for cross-country day – her background in hunting. She grew up hunting with the Golden’s Bridge Hounds and now hunts with the Millbrook Hunt.

    “When the going gets tough I pretend I’m getting yelled at by a huntsman to get to the hounds. That makes me stop overthinking things and just kick,” she says.

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