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Former Thoroughbred a main Event attraction

November 30, 2023

By Jim Phillips, owner of Molinaro Kissing, now known as Wabbit 

“Wabbit and Jess Phoenix finished 11th at Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford UK, which ran from August 31 September 4. Burghley Horse Trials are widely regarded as the Top Event in the Sport of Eventing (1 of only 7 – 5 Star competitions globally).

Many references from leaders in the sport support that the Cross Country at Burghley is consistently the toughest challenge in the sport every year and brings together the top competitors. It has an unbelievable facility that has the backdrop of Burghley House and the grounds of a large and famous estate. Hundreds of thousands attend annually. The facility is groomed entirely for this single competition held there each year. It is most riders’ and owners’ dream to just complete the competition.

Wabbit and Jess Phoenix
Wabbit and Jess Phoenix

Obviously, we are proud and thrilled to have the result we had. It is the best-ever finish by a Canadian at Burghley. The experience honestly was the result of years of hard work and belief in our Thoroughbred. Jess and Wabbit performed a career best in dressage 34.9 on the first day of competition. That was followed by a clear jumping round Cross Country on a spectacular sunny Saturday. The quality of his performance as he charged around the course finished with him hitting all of the 40 jumping efforts foot perfectly. He had only 10.8 time faults and one of the fastest times of the day. Wabbit passed the final veterinary inspection and was in great shape for the show jumping phase.

The course caused many problems and many leaders dropped positions incurring multiple rails. Wabbit competed in the afternoon session which held the top 20 horses.  He rose to the occasion and had just one rail and 1.2 time penalties for a final three-day score of 50.9 just .3 points from being in the top 10. The show jumping phase produced only 7 clear jumping performances and was Wabbit’s best result in a 5-star competition.

On a side note – one of the things that was most enjoyable about the whole experience is the fan base Wabbit has gained competing at the top level. Because of his grey colour, his highly recognizable name, and his swashbuckling nature around the hardest cross-country courses in the world, added to the popularity of his rider and his nature to ham it up for the camera – everyone seems to know and like Wabbit.


Also being a Thoroughbred, he has the underdog “thing” going for him. Unbelievably, he was the only full Thoroughbred at Burghley. People love to cheer for Thoroughbreds. He was featured in some of the best Equine Journals – including Horse and Hound in UK. He is also a warrior and completed three 5-Star competitions within the last year which is very unusual. His scores in all three produced final scores better than any other Canadian has produced in recent memory. The announcer at the last horse inspection commented, ‘Here is one of our favourites… Wabbit’ when presented to the ground jury.

I have been thinking, ‘How did this TB with a modest pedigree take to the pinnacle of one of the major Equestrian events?’ A few things jumped out. First is the belief that Thoroughbreds have the right physical and mental capability they can compete at the top level in eventing. Secondly, we are fortunate to have a rider/trainer that understands that with the proper strengthening and training methods and the patience to implement them Thoroughbreds can produce the results in Dressage and Show Jumping phases that the favoured European breeds have natural advantages in. This allows the Thoroughbreds natural advantage in the Cross Country phase due to their stamina, soundness, toughness and braveness to shine through.

This does take patience and skill as often at lower levels with less difficulty on Cross Country, phases the Warmbloods tend to do well at. In the era of immediate gratification, many gravitate to spending a lot of money for these – when with proper training and skill Thoroughbreds can be competitive at the sport’s highest level.

We know that many racing Thoroughbreds struggle to find good second careers – it is important to know there are so many available with good potential with the right plan.

Read more on Wabbit here:

Wabbit and Jess Phoenix
Wabbit and Jess Phoenix
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