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<em>Journal</em>

Guy McLean Wins Road to the Horse

This trainer’s belief in his colt pays big dividends, with a win at the Road to the Horse colt-starting championship March 17 in Lexington.

By Holly Clanahan
America's Horse
March 18, 2013

Guy McLean wins Road to the Horse with Four Sixes-bred Streakin Cat.

Guy McLean was almost apologetic when he stepped into the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park for the final performance in the 2013 Road to the Horse colt-starting competition. His bay gelding, Streakin Cat, had been shutting down throughout the weekend, without much forward energy, and Guy was pretty sure he wouldn’t have enough horse to get through the required rail work and obstacle course. But, as he saddled his colt, he said both he and the gelding were giving it all they had, and he appreciated the horse’s honest efforts.

And then something happened: The little gelding nicknamed “Mate” stepped up and turned in a stellar performance, sailing through the rail work and all of the obstacles – including a bonus one – and then allowing Guy to ride him bridleless for a closing freestyle performance. Guy had said all along that he believed in this horse, and now it seemed, the horse was believing in him. They went into the final performance with a 63-point deficit, and they ended it 44 points ahead of their nearest competitor.

Guy won Road to the Horse last year as part of Team Australia with Dan James, and now he had won it outright, he and his mate.

“I loved him for what he was when he came in, and I love him for what he is now,” Guy says. “I believed in him the whole way through, but he even surprised me on this third day. He was a superstar.”

Guy announced immediately that he was purchasing the 3-year-old gelding, bred by the esteemed Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. And he looks forward to having him perform alongside Valliant Paddy, aka “Aussie,” the gelding he purchased after winning the 2012 Road to the Horse.

“When he works at liberty beside me, when you see him in a year, he’ll be running beside Aussie, two world champions together, Guy McLean and his world champions,” he says. And indeed, Aussie has turned into a remarkable performer in the last year (See the slideshow in Friday’s post for proof), and it’ll be interesting to see this new team gel.

Many of Guy’s training methods are pretty unorthodox, as you’ll see illustrated in the slideshow photos, but he says it’s important to put colts to the test, to give them a reason to believe in their trainer.

“The big thing for me is that people understand why I do what I do,” he says. “The first two days, people were saying, ‘Guy you’d better slow down, you’d better do this,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, but that’s not being true to who I am.’ If I went slow for two days, this colt would have come out today, and he would have said, ‘You didn’t teach me this, you didn’t prepare me.’ (Instead), my colt said,’ Is this all we have to do? We can do this every day.’ He believed in me because I prepared him. If I had to take someone to war, I can’t sit him down at a tea table and give him cups of tea. I’ve got to take him and say, ‘We’ve got to go to war, I need you to be ready.’ He was ready today. We went to war together and we won.”

More Coverage

Check out Holly Clanahan's full coverage -- including slideshows -- of the 2013 Road to the Horse event:

Wild Card Competition

As part of the 2013 Road to the Horse competition, producer Tootie Bland offered eight horsemen and horsewomen the opportunity to become a Road to the Horse Wild Card. Wild Card contestants chose their partners from the remaining horses of the Four Sixes remuda after the four Road to the Horse contestants made their selections. The Wild Cards will return with their horses to Road to the Horse 2014 to compete in the Wild Card competition. The Wild Card winner will compete for the 2014 Road to the Horse World Championship of Colt Starting title.

Learn more about the Wild Cards, and find out which horses they chose.