Four Star Rides

The CCI4* is the highest level of international competition in the sport of three-day eventing. Boyd has competed numerous horses in four-star level events around the world and shares some insight into his experiences.

OscarRolex2013small2013 ROLEX KENTUCKY

Oscar was the youngest horse in the field on his 4* debut in Kentucky. He showed his class by performing an excellent dressage test which left him on a score of 47. The cross country at this event had been stretched out to the longest distance since I’d been competing at Kentucky. Trading Aces put in a massive effort jumping all the direct routes throughout the course and looking like he was going to make the time. Unfortunately 3 fences from home I felt him hit the wall and tire, thus making the split second decision to pull him up only 20 seconds from home. This was very disappointing but In hind site I believe it was the right call as we went home uninjured and ready to rethink our conditioning schedule.

OtisOlympics2012 LONDON OLYMPICS!
Withdrawn after XC

After having three horses in contention for the US Team, selectors went with the flashy, in form, Otis Barbotiere. Unfortunately, Otis was the first horse to go out throughout the whole competition which led to some questionable dressage judging.

Otis was the trailblazer on a tough, twisty track in Greenwich Park, where he flew around the course, receiving cheers from 50,000 spectators. Unfortunately, the treacherous terrain took its toll on Otis as he came up quite sore after the cross country. He was sent to the hold in the second horse inspection, where I gracefully withdrew, crushing USA’s hopes of a team medal. Team USA finished a disappointing seventh.


By chance, I partnered up with my old friend Thomas (Ying Yang Yo) for one last campaign at the top level. After winning the Fair Hill CCI *** in the fall before, I new he had another big one in him.

We were originally heading for Rolex, but an eye injury re-routed us to Luhmuehlen in Germany. At about midway on the cross country course I noticed Thomas gasping for air. He started jumping poorly, so I decided to pull him up at fence 19. An airway scope the next day showed that somehow, Thomas had a collapsed airway. He is a fantastic horse that never stops trying, and I am glad I made the decision to retire him on course. Thomas now heads back to America where he will live life in Luxury in New Hampshire with his owners, Denise Lahey and Pierre Colin, at Stony Brook Farm.

3rd Place

Otis did not disappoint at his four star debut, finishing on his dressage score. It was a red hot field in competition at Rolex due to it being the final selection for the Olympic team. The Flying Frenchman oozed with class in all three phases, moving up from 16th after the dressage to finish in 3rd place after the show jumping.

It was a very satisfying result as this was the first really big performance Otis had to produce since buying him 18 months ago in France and rallying a syndicate to get behind him. This result left Otis in the mix for a chance at the Olympics later in the year.

Photo Credit Lisa Thomas

8th Place
Remington was back on familiar ground once again competing in Kentucky. He put on a grand dressage test of 45, and then rocketed around the course with only a few time penalties. The cross country rode tougher than expected, wiping out nearly half of the field. He then jumped a great show jumping round, only having the first rail down on course.

This performance also left Remi in contention for the up coming Olympic games in London.

Photo Credit Lisa Thomas

7th Place

After a horrendous preparation for Burghley, which included Neville being the last horse dragged out of the burning barn which claimed six horse’s lives and the passing of both of our Dads……my old sparing partner, Neville, stepped up to the plate once again.

Burghley was a massive course, bigger than the WEG, that ran for a grueling 11minutes and 40 seconds. Neville gutted it out the whole way jumping clear and making it inside the time. Unfortunately we pulled a rail the next day which cost us 4th place and about $20,000 in prize money, but finishing 7th and the top placing American pair didn’t disappoint!

It was an emotional event for me due to the terrible lead up. Neville proved once again that he is a remarkable athlete by getting fit for this event in only 8 weeks. It was also the first four star event where Neville competed under his new owners (10 of them) of the Neville Bardos Syndicate.

Photo credit Calina, Horse Junkies United!

9th Place

At the beginning of 2011, I had Remington, Last Monarch and Neville Bardos all heading for Kentucky. Through minor injuries my list of four star horses was just left with the old warhorse, Remi.

He had wonderful preparation, winning a few lead up events. He did respectable dressage with the only disappointing part being the rider making a course error. The cross country footing was a little bit heavy which contributed to Remi picking up a few time faults.

The most rewarding part of the weekend was the clear round in the show jumping. Since our disappointing round at Pau, we had worked quite hard at this and he jumped beautifully. From a riding point of view it was a memorable event due to the fact I rode with two active fractures in my left wrist from a heavy fall a few weeks before.

Dressage Photos
Cross Country Photos
Stadium Photos

(Photo Credits Lisa Thomas)

7th Place

My first European four star would be on the unexpected Remington XXV. Remington was the alternate horse for the US team at the WEG. In a way, he was in slightly better form than Neville at the time, so I was eager to get a four star out of him in late 2010.

He was amazing in the dressage scoring a 43. This was both his and my best ever score at this level. He was one of only two horses to go the direct route around an intimidating technical course that wiped out half the field.

Photo Credit Marianne DELLECI

He was in 3rd place heading into the show jumping when disappointment struck. There was a huge down pour of horrendous rain as we started and both Remi and I lost our form in the jumping having a few rails down, to drop us to 7th place.

Photos courtesy of Kirsten Selvig

10th Place

After trying to make a national team at an Olympics or Worlds for the last ten years of my life, I finally did it. I proudly rode in the stars and stripes on the US team at the WEG. Neville was seriously pumped up for the dressage, but put in a personal best score. He then went clear and under the time around a huge xc course. To cap off a perfect weekend as the home crowd favorite he showjumped clear. He was the highest placed US horse finishing in 10th. The team finished 4th, missing the medals narrowly.

Photo credit Josh Walker

4th Place

‘Nev’ went like a diamond, finishing on his dressage score. I was most happy with the way he show jumped: after struggling to get a clean round out of him in his lead-up events, he came into the enormous new stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park and jumped his socks off. After this performance he was placed on the short list for the World Equestrian Games.

2010 Photo credits Mike McNally

11th Place

‘Lusty’ is a chestnut Thoroughbred mare owned and bred by the great Bruce Davidson. She can be a bit of a handful in the dressage, but to her credit she stayed nice and relaxed for her test in front of a noisy crowd, with the stands filled to the top row. She flew around her first four-star cross-country inside of the time of eleven and a half minutes. She is a phenomenal athlete that really enjoyed galloping around the long, massive course that tested her bravery and her endurance.

2010 Rolex Photo credits, Mike McNally

12th Place

‘Remi’ is the first warmblood that I have ever ridden around a four-star. He is by the German dressage stallion Rubinstein and came to America as a dressage horse, then changed his career to a foxhunter, then landed in my lap as an event horse. The owners tried to sell him but he kept failing the vet checks, so they were stuck with him. In the media leading up to the event, certain experts came out and said the horse had no chance. He had a great event, galloping around the cross-country with ease. His 12th place result landed him on the short list for the US team for the World Equestrian Games.

2010 Rolex Photo credits, Mike McNally

9th Place

‘Nev’ was a young wild green 8 yo on his four star debut. Again he was a failed racehorse from Australia. He shared the same grand father that Brady Bunch and Ying Yang in Sir Tristan. He put in a big effort finishing in the top ten, unfortunately having a few uncharacteristic rails down in the show jumping. His performance was good enough to win the highest placed foreign rider award. This would be the last four star that I would ride for Australia.

Photo credit Mike McNally


The Ying Yang had a terrible preparation on his way to the 2008 RK3DE, battling a number of small niggling soundness issues. He showed his true character by getting to the event with a restricted number of lead-up events and limited gallops. He was one of the last horses of the day to run the cross-country and was jumping well until the Head of the Lake water jump. I lost my position and fell forward, hitting my head on his neck. I was knocked unconscious before I hit the water (pictured right) and then I was fished out and spent the evening in the University of Kentucky Emergency Hospital. After this Rolex, I gave Thomas to a good friend of where he was a top Junior Training horse for a few years.

11th Place

‘Thomas’ was my first horse to take to a four-star outside of Australia. He was an ex-galloper from Dubbo, NSW. I flew over in the cargo plane with him and kept him at Phillip Dutton’s farm for the two months prior to competing at Rolex. He was really only seven years old, but an awesome galloper, and he made the time cross-country. He gave me such a great taste of the US that I left him here and moved back permantly at the end of the year.

Photo credit of Thomas, Mike McNally


Held annually in November, the Australian International 3 Day Event is Australia’s premier equestrian competition. It is the only CCI four star event held in Australia, the only one held in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only six held across the world. For the past ten years, Adelaide has been the chosen host city of this hallmark equestrian event.

The AI3DE proudly takes its place alongside the other great international four star events, the Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event in the United States, Burghley Horse Trials and Badminton Horse Trials in England, Luhmuhlen in Germany and Pau in France.


8th Place

‘Winston’ was a riding school pony that did up-down lessons for beginners. He also was a hell of a jumper. It was in the Trans Tasman Cup in 2005, (Australia vs. New Zealand), and the fat little pony show jumped clear, beating many of the high-profile team members. I did a total of three three-day events on ‘Winston’, and after each event he would have his rest time at the riding school, doing four or five kid’s lunging lessons a day for $20 each.

1st Place

My finest moment in my evening career happened on ‘Toozac’ in 2003. Being the final selection trial before the Olympics it was a red-hot field, which consisted of some of the gold medal horses from Sydney 2000. It was also the last long-format CCI**** ever held in the world. ‘Toozac’ was the classiest horse I have ever ridden, and won the event with the fastest cross-country round I have ever ridden in my life. He is an unbelievable horse that almost came to me too early in my riding career. Like many of my top horses, Toozac went on to compete like a champion at the one- star level with a young girl.

Brady Bunch
18th Place

‘Brady’ was by the same stallion as ‘Eros’ (Family Ties) and was the best jumping horse I have ever had. She had an uncharacteristic run-out at a corner right at the end of the cross-course. She was, however, the only horse in the field to show jump double clear on Sunday. As she got on in age, I placed her with a Young Rider from Perth.


I catch rode ‘Skippy’ at the Auckland CCI*** in 2001 and finished in 8th place, then bought him for a song! He was a great little guy, only 15.2 hh. We did well at the Melbourne CCI*** three-day event early in the year of 2002. He was a tough cracker in the dressage at Adelaide but got through it. Unfortunately he broke down in the steeplechase in Phase B of the event. He healed well, and I sold him to a fellow that was a friend of mine for not much money. He lived the good life, eventing at the lower level for years until he died of a snake bite in 2009!

17th Place

The old Doc didn’t do much in 2001 before this four-star. I was only planning on running him in one horse trial to prep him up for the big event, but at the horse trial he popped a hoof abscess, so I couldn’t take him. So the first start he had after the 2000 Adelaide CCI**** was literally the 2001 CCI****. He galloped around cross-country clear but slow due to not having much of a prep. I sold him for $2000 to a Pony Club kid who gave him five more years of love until he died in his sleep next to the fence post he wind sucked on all day. What a horse.

18th Place

I got ‘Starkey’ from my sister after she quit eventing. He was only a 7-year-old when we did our first four-star. He was a great thoroughbred that was tough in the dressage. He never actually did a CCI three-star, but I lied on the entry form to compete at Adelaide. The organizers worked it out after dressage, but let me run anyway. He went around clear cross-country but slow due to his greenness = a big relief to the T.D.! After this event I sold him to a rider in California.

5th Place

‘Doc’ was purchased for $1200 as an 11-year-old Pony Club horse that had never evented. I fell off him when I tried him, but he did not run away so we bought him. A couple of years later he gave me my first taste of eventing at the four-star level. Looking back on it, I had no idea what I was doing. I did not even understand measuring stride distances between jumps on the course walk. I demolished a fence on steeplechase, but hung on and had a great cross-country…….with only 1 rail down in show jumping, I was hooked!


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