Sunday Aug 02 2009
It takes two to make Tevis go right
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
In looking at the roster for this year’s Tevis Cup through the eyes of an equestrian novice, the names of the riders jump off the page. Tevis veterans realize the names of the horses are as important, if not more important than the person in the saddle. Endurance riding is not like racing at the Kentucky Derby, where power and athleticism rule and the jockey is essentially along for the ride. At Tevis, a horse’s intangible qualities play a huge role and the rider’s job is to manage the animal along a trail that is humbling from the very start. The three riders leading the way late Saturday were all veterinarians — only slightly a coincidence. Jeanette Mero, Melissa Ribley and Marcia Smith are all veteran riders, but they’re also closely in tune with what their horses need to endure 100 miles on the trail. Nutrition plays a huge role in the horse’s performance, the pace the rider sets is critical and the management of x-factors like the heat in the canyons are all crucial to the team’s success. The knowledge of these trained veterinarians is a huge advantage, though as Sarah Engsburg proved, it doesn’t guarantee victory. Engsburg is intimately involved with horses herself however, working as a ferrier (a horseshoe maker). The three women out front also benefit from their lightweight frames. Women have had tremendous success throughout the history of Tevis. Donna Fitzgerald and her horse Witezarif are the most decorated team in the history of Tevis, winning six out of seven titles, beginning in 1970. … Rachel Shackelford was more than wary of the rough terrain in the high country on the Western States Trail heading into Saturday’s Tevis Cup. “I know there’s a rock out there with my name on it,” Auburn rider Rachel Shackelford joked earlier this week. The going was indeed rough for Shackelford, a junior rider in her first Tevis Saturday. But she made it through the rugged first 30 miles of the trail and was riding into the night as of press time. … Giants fans were calling in unison for management to add talent for the stretch run this past week. General manager Brian Sabean obliged, landing Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko before Friday’s trading deadline. In April, those same San Francicso fans were almost all in agreement that their young squad was a year or two away from playoff contention. The point being — this summer’s run at the National League wild card bid is all the more exciting because of the surprise factor. The Giants’ success is baffling even now, considering their offense is still one of the most anemic in the Majors. Second-year sensation Pablo Sandoval is the only Giant batting over .300 and he will likely lead the team in home runs with well under 30 for the season (he has 16 now). Sandoval is the only Giant with a legitimate shot at 100 RBIs this season (he has 63). As expected in April, the Giants’ pitching has been stellar. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum give the Giants the one-two punch in the National League, which would make any playoff opponent nervous, especially if a healthy Randy Johnson is waiting in Game 3.