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Windfall and Darren at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Photo by Dr. Timothy Holekamp

other words, a 10-minute break)’ And we did! They said, ‘Two minutes, one minute…’ I swung up, we left the box and he was on fire. I think that he either made the time or missed it by a second. He did an amazing thing. And most importantly, he had lots of fire the next day to go out and jump clear and then win the whole event. So that was really a life moment for us both.” Dr. Holekamp was also thrilled with Darren and

Windfall’s performance in the CCI****. But dreams of the Olympics were still dancing around in his head. “Winning the first modern CCI**** at Rolex was definitely a very big moment but the thing most gratifying to me was when U.S. Team and Selection Committee vet Dr. Catherine Kohn, who is a self-admitted Thoroughbred fan and Warmblood-doubter, came up to me to report that of all those who essentially made the time on cross-country, the fastest to recover normal vital signs was Windfall. That was the moment when I knew that, barring an accident, it was going to happen.”

Olympic Dream Come True

Sure enough, Darren and Windfall made the 2004 Olympic team. By now, Windfall had become an American eventing icon and had legions of fans from coast to coast. All of them were looking to Darren and Windfall, along with the rest of the U.S. eventing team, to bring home an Olympic medal.

“The Olympics produced some of the most happy, sad and scary moments of my life,” says Dr. Holekamp. “Cheryl and I, along with the kids, followed the team over to training camp in England at the farm of our coach, stayed in a three hundred-year-old farmhouse in a tiny village and attended the Team gallop and the horse trials at Gatcombe Park. Then came the long flight to Athens and adjusting to the unusual climate and footing there became the focus.” After the opening celebrations, Darren and Windfall

got down to business. This was Darren’s first trip to the Olympic Games, and he had to give himself a few reminders to stay focused on the task at hand. “People don’t realize…just jumping a cross-rail is unbelievable pressure at the Olympic Games,” he muses. “You’re adding so many more things to the whole feel. I had to constantly tell myself, ‘It’s just another day at the office.’ I remember, as the judge rang the bell and I cantered down the centerline, there were our names along with ‘Athens Olympic Games.’ The hair literally stood up on the back of my neck and I said to myself, ‘Calm down and ride the damn test!’ Even though I’ve been a fan of the Olympic Games for my entire life, I watch them now with a whole different appreciation.” Darren was able to focus the stallion on his test and they performed a flashy and expressive dressage test,

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