Incantation came into Robin Fairclough’s life by chance when she was a junior rider, but the black Thoroughbred made a big impression.
“He came to us for a client, for Andrea Kenyon, to ride,” said Fairclough. Kenyon was the daughter of New Jersey horse show announcer Thomas G. Kenyon. But Incantation had a good spook to him, so Fairclough took him in junior and regular hunter classes during the 1973 season and into 1974.
“He was always a super jumper. He could be a little spooky, but he always jumped in really good form,” said Fairclough.
Fairclough, then showing under her maiden name of Rost, qualified for the ASPCA Maclay Finals that year. Of the three horses she was competing at the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden (N.Y.), she decided Incantation would be the right mount. She’d placed second the year before and was eager to win.
“We got down to the final two and changed horses,” said Fairclough, who now rides and trains professionally out of Top Brass Farm in Newton, N.J., with her husband, four-in-hand driver James Fairclough. “He added a stride with [Michael Patrick] who was riding him.”
However, despite the mistake, Robin was stuck being a bridesmaid again. “[His] flatwork was better than mine, and that was how [the judge] broke the tie,” she said.
She went on to win the AHSA Medal Finals in 1974 with a different horse, and she also was named Best Child Rider at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show during that time.
During their year together, Robin also rode Incantation in the Lake Placid Hunter Classic (N.Y.) where they jumped a course on the grass grand prix field.
“We actually jumped the open liverpool and the bank in that classic. He was quite brave to the jumper jumps. He was actually more spooky to the hunter jumps,” said Robin, who remembered earning a ribbon in the class but wasn’t sure of a specific placing.
Incantation did not race in his younger years, and Fairclough described him as “not too terribly Thoroughbredy.”
However, she added, “He was amazing. He was a beautiful, beautiful black horse.
“Back in those days, [the horses] did a little bit of everything. He did the equitation and the hunters,” she continued. “He was very sweet. He was always a gentleman in the barn and pretty uncomplicated that way. Very pretty, very eye catching.”