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Poetic justice

Respected equestrian wins show jumping event

Don Fennell, Sports Editor

One of equestrian's true gentlemen enjoyed a well-deserved day in the sun Sunday.

Albert Kley, the senior head trainer at the world-famous Spruce Meadows near Calgary, strode to victory in the feature $30,000 Twin Oaks Derby last weekend in Richmond.

Riding Daiquiri, a 13-year-old Hanovarian, Kley received a loud round of applause from an appreciative group of spectators numbering well over 500. Several even stood after horse and rider became the first tandem to complete the jump off without a fault. Four others (Frank Selinger aboard Mr. Bean, Lisa Carlsen aboard Thatcher, and Tosca Kocken aboard Newton) also had clear first rounds to force the jump off.

"I really like it here because it's a lot like Europe," Kley said, the sweat of effort still visible on his face.

"We don't have a lot of natural jumps in North America, and a beautiful open field where one gets to canter nicely."

Kley said one of the biggest challenges at Twin Oaks is the length of the ring (about 700 feet). But he explained that's what a derby is about, a long and demanding course that leaves little or no room for error. He said you have to be quick and decide ahead of time where you want to go on the course before attempting a jump.

"Spruce Meadows is known as one of the world's best natural show jumping venues, and (Twin Oaks) is getting a good name also," Kley said.

"It has its own identity; it's not just another show."

Kley is widely popular, and respected in equestrian circles for his attitude toward the sport. He works hard at his craft and always puts his horses first.

"He's a great horseman," said Wendy Graham, who helped to organize the Twin Oaks Derby.

"He's always on people to look after their horses (and not blame them if they don't perform well)."

Not suprisingly, Kley credited Daiquiri for his efforts Sunday.

"Diaguiri is a very clever horse. He jumps very cleanly and is an eager horse. This is the type of course that suits him well."

At 61, Kley is an experienced show jumper. But he said he still feels like a kid.

"I'm still a little boy deep down," he smiled.

"These jumps here are like the ones I used to jump over when I was little (growing up in Germany)."

HORSE BANTER: A fundraiser was held for B.C. Children's Hospital prior to Friday's featured $10,000 1.30 metre speed derby. More than $71,000 was raised.

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