Thursday Jul 30 2009
Tevis Cup rides into town
By: Luke Ramseth Journal Correspondent
Two-time winner seeks buckle No. 20
Potato Richardson has competed in endurance horse races all over the world including France, Germany and the United Arab Emirates. He worked with the founder of this weekend’s Tevis Cup, Wendel Robie, in the early days of the sport. He’s the only Tevis competitor to breed, train and race his own horse — and win. This Saturday, Richardson, 66, will go after one more accomplishment in the sport of horse racing — a 20th Tevis Cup belt buckle. “My 20th buckle is what I’m looking forward to,” Richardson said Thursday. If he gets it, Richardson will be in an elite group of Tevis riders, according to Mike Pickett, Tevis ride director. Pickett said there are only six other 20-time, or 2,000 mile, Tevis finishers. “Potato is a maverick figure (in the sport),” Pickett said. “He’s a dedicated competitor, consistently involved.” Richardson, who lives on his ranch in Greenwood, “10 minutes from the Tevis trail,” first discovered the race in 1972. Since then, he’s competed more than 30 times, and finished an elusive 19. He’s also won the race — in 1998 and 2002. Richardson attributes his success to pure consistency. “I raise my horses here, and I have really good pasture for them,” he said. “During the race, I keep my horse at a steady pace, like I’m the turtle in the race between the turtle and the hare.” After so many years, Richardson said he’s also gained a great knowledge of the Tevis trail. He even competed and finished the Western States Endurance Run in 1982, which takes place on mostly the same route. Richardson’s approach to preparing for the ride is equally consistent—in a low-key sort of way. This week, he’s hosting Tevis competitors from England at his ranch. “I’ve been sitting around, just relaxing and chatting with my friends from England,” he said. In the weeks and months leading up to Tevis, Richardson only rides Filouette, the Arabian horse he plans to ride for this year’s event, two or three times a week. He said he doesn’t have to train his horse much, as she has already piled on so many “base” miles in previous years. Richardson has seen the race evolve over his nearly 40 years of participating and volunteering. “The challenge is so much bigger to put on this ride now,” he explained. “People don’t realize how hard it is to put on (Tevis). All the volunteers get is a free T-shirt.” When Richardson started out with Tevis, it cost $35 to enter. Now, he says his entry fee is $315. But Richardson realizes why Tevis costs more nowadays, and he’s a big reason for its growth in worldwide popularity. Richardson will look to check one more horse racing accomplishment off his list this Saturday—Tevis Cup finish No. 20.