When Lindsay Kellock rode into the arena yesterday to make her Olympic debut, she was proudly wearing the Canadian team kit.
But under the tailcoat and shirt was perhaps the most significant talisman – a necklace given to her by her brother Jonathan, a competitive ski racer who died of a brain tumour in January aged just 29.
Her mother Jennifer had handed Lindsay the necklace as she was leaving to head to the airport. Jonathan had ordered it some time ago, but it was mistakenly delivered to his old address and turned up just in time for the Games.
“I started qualifying for the Olympics a couple of days after Jonathan passed so that’s been really hard, but I know he wants me to be here,” Lindsay said after her grand prix. “He wants me to be competing and I feel he’s with me every day. I miss him dearly, but I tried to do well for him today.”
Lindsay, 31, does have family physically with her in Tokyo because her younger sister Jamie is grooming for Canadian event rider Jessica Phoenix.
Lindsay Kellock herself has groomed at two Olympics, working for Ashley Holzer at London 2012 and for Jacquie Brooks at the Games in Hong Kong in 2008. This seems to be something of a pattern for Canadian riders as Colleen Loach, who will ride in the eventing competition at the end of this week, groomed for Peter Barry at London 2012.
“Obviously it’s different when you’re riding versus grooming, but I knew what to expect as far as the routines go and all that, so it made it a little bit easier,” said Lindsay.
Lindsay worked for Ashley Holzer, who is a great friend of their mother and godmother to the sisters, for seven years and now trains with her in the winter in Florida.
In the summer, she is based in Connecticut. Her ride Sebastien, who is by Sandro Hit and owned by Enterprise Farm Equestrian, travelled from New York to Aachen, Germany for pre-export quarantine and then on to Tokyo – a long journey that perhaps contributed to a sub-par performance in the Tokyo Olympic dressage arena.
“My test wasn’t what I had hoped for. We lost a little bit of the energy. It’s very hot. My horse has had a long, long trip and it’s a learning experience for me and my team to gauge how much or little to work him. Maybe he just peaked a little too early,” Lindsay Kellock said.
“He’s a very special horse – he has so much talent. He’s been the most challenging horse for me to train. He has an opinion and he makes me work for it. He’s the horse, by far, that’s taught me the most of any other horse and that’s been great for me to take on to my up-and-coming horses.
“He’s a funny guy, very confident, curious, a little bit aloof. But when you get to know him and he gets to know you, he’s very sweet.”
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Credit: Peter Nixon
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