Horse of the Week…

CEVO ITOT DU CHATEAU

Well never before have I known a horse that draws so much affection both from the public, international riders as well as those who work with him. This little horse has captured the hearts of so many in this sport, more then once.

This little guy is the ultimate fighter and any rider who knows him or has had the pleasure of riding him, would tell you that he has the biggest heart. Standing at only 154 cm, Itot du Chateau or Toti, as he is affectionately known by those closest to him, has made a career jumping jumping fences taller then himself.

He may be small but Toti has proven through an incredible career that size does not matter.

At the age of three, Cevo Itot du Chateau was sold at auction for more then 12,000 euros. In the same year he jumped out of the field and was hit by a truck. His new owners were sure that the life of the French bred gelding was over. “He’s lucky to be alive really” said Edwina when she described the event to me in Lyon a few weeks ago. However, Toti healed and recovered completely but the scars remained. To this day, you can still see the subtle references of the horrific event on his right shoulder and forehead. A reminder of how close we came to never knowing this incredible animal.

The little firecracker made his international debut under Michel Hecart, who had bought Toti as a six year old on the advice of Philippe Rozier. Michel bought the young Itot from a breeder and instantly found him to have a lot of blood and to be very sensitive. I spoke with Marie Hecart, the daughter of Michel about what Itot du Chateau was like while he was with her father. “We had to be careful when we got on because he was running!! He jumped really well at the 6 year old Final. We always knew he was special.”

From that moment on, the little Frenchman captured everyone’s attention ringside, not only for his picture perfect technique but his deceptively long stride and his incredible approach to every round. It was as a young horse that even Edwina and Jan noticed this pint-sized pocket rocket.

Now many of us know Toti as the Internationally acclaimed mount of Edwina Tops-Alexander. But how did these two petite athletes come together, you might ask. Well Itot was actually a surprise gift for Edwina from her husband for New Years in 2007. Edwina was visiting her family in Australia when she found out that her husband-to-be had acquired the little French horse, a mount she had so often admired from the in gate but never imagined having because he was never available for sale.

Jan bought the bold little gelding without trial and when Edwina stood next to him in the cross ties for the first time, she was completely blown away by how small he really was, standing at only 154 cm. But when the leading lady rider first rode Toti, she said it was as if they had been together for years. The familiar feeling of this horse made the Australian Olympian sure that this match was one for life and that the pair would do well together. And done well they most certainly have, now standing as one of the most successful combinations in modern 21st century show jumping. Could Edwina ever have imagined in the early days of 2008 that she would be attending the Beijing Olympics with Toti or that she would prove to be one of the most competitive and hard-to-beat combinations for the next 4 years…

Edwina and Toti flew to Hong Kong for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, having only known each other for mere months and yet they managed to land in 9th place individually and 7th in the team competition with Team Australia, showing to their peers and the rest of the world that we could expect great things from this newly formed combination.

Watching the new combination attack the Olympic course day after day after day was incredible. I have never seen a horse look so small within a ring, the Olympic stadium dwarfed the little Frenchman and yet Toti jumped better then horses twice his size and ate up the tracks, showing to everyone that he may be small but he has more then enough stride to tackle Olympic sized tracks.

Speaking of Olympic.. if we fast track 4 years later to this summer’s Olympic games in London, I can’t help but remember the immense respect that fellow horseman had for Toti. As a few of us enjoyed a coffee in Greenwich before the Individual final was set to kick off, I had to ask a few of the riders and associates, who they wanted to win or who they saw likely to land on the podium. I will always remember Irishman Denis Lynch’s words about this adorable little French-bred fighter. When I asked him who he wanted to win, he said he wanted Itot du Chateau to win, because “the little guy deserves a medal.”

Denis expressed what the rest of us were feeling, that Toti had won so much in his career and that the suitable addition to an amazing career would be an Olympic medal. Now as you know, this was not to be and Edwina and Toti would end up tied for 20th position with Columbia’s Daniel Bluman and his mare Sancha. A rather disappointing result, no doubt everyone wanted the combination to find a place on the podium.

But I can’t help but question whether lasting unanimous respect and admiration from well-appointed riders and trainers within the sport is better then a moment on the podium. Yes, Itot and Edwina didn’t have the Olympic result that they wanted but I can’t help but be truly taken back by how many people associated with this sport have admired and spoken openly on the deep felt respect they have for this little horse. I cannot list how many times I’ve been standing by the in gate at some World Cup or a Global Champions Tour event while trainers, riders, grooms and owners all regard Toti as “an amazing little horse.” If I have heard this once, I’ve heard it a million times.

So, will Toti retire from the sport without an Olympic medal; well he could quite possibly. But will he have gained an undying collection of well-appointed and well-respected fans over an incredible career; absolutely, yes.

I would like to challenge the status quo and put forth that that, my friends, is far more valuable than any Olympic medal.

Recent results…

Rank Show Horse Class
2 Rio de Janeiro, 6 oct 2012 Cevo itôt du Chateau GP Athina Onassis Horse Show 1.60m
3 Lausanne, 16 sep 2012 Cevo itôt du Chateau GCT Grand Prix of Switzerland 1.60m
20 London, 08 aug 2012 Cevo itôt du Chateau Olympics Individual Jumping
10 London, 06 aug 2012 Cevo itôt du Chateau Olympics Team Jumping
3 Cannes, 17 Jun 2012 Cevo itôt du Chateau GCT Grand Prix de Ville Cannes 1.60m
1 Doha, 7 Apr 2012 Cevo itôt du Chateau GCT Grand Prix of Qatar 1.50m
2 Bordeaux, 4 Feb 2012 Cevo itôt du Chateau Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Equidia
3 Zürich, 29 Jan 2012 Cevo itôt du Chateau Mercedes Classic Rolex FEI World Cup
1 Abu Dhabi, 26 Nov 2011 Cevo itôt du Chateau Global Champions Tour season 2011

Best of the Best….

Year Rank Description
2012 1 Doha, Global Champions Tour
2011 1 Overall winner Global Champions Tour season 2011
2011 1 Lyon, Prix Equita by Equidia
2011 1 Chantilly, Global Champions Tour
2011 1 Cannes, Global Champions Tour
2011 6 Rolex FEI World Ranking, highest ranking
2010 3 Ranking Global Champions Tour season 2010
2010 1 Cannes, Global Champions Tour
2009 1 Overall winner Global Champions Tour season 2009
2009 1 Valkenswaard, Global Champions Tour
2009 2 Aachen, Grosser Preis
2009 1 Goteborg, Grand Prix
2008 2 Cannes, Global Champions Tour
2008 1 London, Grand Prix Olympia Horse Show
2008 7 Beijng Olympic Games Team
2008 9 Beijing, Olymipic Games Individual
2008 1 Brussels, GP Audi Masters

Questions for Edwina…

Ridden for: Australia

Jockey: Edwina Tops-Alexander

Owned by: Stal Tops

Stable name: Toti

Breeding: SFStud-book Français du Cheval Selle Français

Bred by: Jean J. Grand

DOB: 14/03/1996

Age: 16 years old

Last year: Won the 2011 Global Champions tour season

Biggest moment this year: Olympic Final in London

Recent win: Doha Grand Prix

Won a total of: € 1,207,960 on the Global Champions Tour

Currently WBFSH ranked: 22nd in the world

I bet you didn’t know: he loves banana’s and tomatoes

Personality: “Very sensitive even though he’s so brave”

3 comments on “Horse of the Week…

  1. Katie says:

    I love how you always manage to personify the horses in the way that they deserve to be so. Some people are far too quick to praise the riders when, even they do deserve praise and lots of it, many times the horses themselves put their very being into the sport when they don’t really have to and aren’t praised highly enough for it. Then again I also enjoy the way you manage to praise every rider you write about, the “horsey world” can be an incredibly self centred, nasty place at times, thank you for giving us a bit of hope!

  2. noellefloyd says:

    Thank you so much Katie. I really appreciate you saying so.

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