The day after winning his first five-star grand prix in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows on Saturday, America’s Andrew Kocher found himself in the spotlight again on Sunday.
Kocher and his mount Carollo completed the two-round 1.60m Queen Elizabeth II Cup in a tie with Hardin Towell and Joli Jumper. The tie was broken by jump-off over a third round when Towell had a rail leaving Kocher with the win.
“I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s a dream come true, I don’t even know how it happened. This is the biggest (victory) I have ever had,” said Kocher afterward.
The Sun Life Financial Derby held the next day is one of the most gruelling show jumping competitions in the world and features all of Spruce Meadow’s natural obstacles including the intimidating devil’s dyke, the table top, the double liverpool and the famous Spruce Meadows bank – a true test of endurance for both horse and rider. It is very unusual for a rider to take the same horse they rode in the Cup into this event and the struggling Carollo ended with 28 faults.
Roy Wilten, owner of Stal Wilten in Nieuwleusen, NED, and part-owner of Carollo, took to social media to express his disgust at the disturbing round in the Sun Life Financial Derby that Kocher subjected the horse to the following day. Obviously exhausted, the horse made matchsticks of the course to the dismay of Wilten and others who wondered why the horse wasn’t voluntarily pulled up or flagged down by the stewards. In a video posted by Eye Candy Jumpers, the show jumping team Kocher rides for, Carollo was seen being laughed at for appearing so tired immediately before his disastrous Derby round.
The post on Wilten’s Facebook page (see below) generated 1.5 thousand comments and 2.4 thousand shares and spread the hashtag #standingupforcarollo. Many agreed the video was “painful to watch” and agreed that the horse should have been stopped by officials, which have the power to do so in cases of abuse which is defined as ‘as acting in a way which may cause pain or discomfort to a horse’ and includes “To exhaust or exercise an exhausted, lame or injured horse.” A previous mount of Kocher’s, Navalo de Poheton, had to be euthanized last year due to injuries sustained in the Hickstead Derby.
In response to our queries regarding any pending reprimands/carding/fines for Kocher, an FEI spokesperson reported, “We are looking into this matter and, while we are waiting to receive the official reports from the Foreign Judge and the Foreign Veterinary Delegate, we have proactively contacted the officials from the event. We are also in touch with the athlete’s National Federation.”