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Equine Obituary...So Lovely

Hailed by many as the greatest road mare of all time, So Lovely was put down this past weekend at CSI Farm in Hickory, N.C., at the age of 30. CSI farm manager Kim Collins reported the grand old mare had one filly who had both raced and shown and each year throughout retirement So Lovely was turned out with the babies, a job she thoroughly enjoyed.

The show ring career of So Lovely is traced to Denver, Colo., where Martin Cockriel had bought her as a four-year-old from a local exhibitor named John Siper who had shown her a few times.

“She was so black and beautiful,” said Cockriel. “That’s what attracted me to her. We won the stake at the American Royal two years in a row and then I sold her. She was the highest priced road mare ever sold at the time.”

With Dale and Patty Milligan as agents, Eva Clifton is the one who bought So Lovely from Cockriel. Their success was unprecedented.

“We bought her from a little ad in Saddle Horse Report,” said Patty Milligan. “Eva and I were eating lunch and she saw the ad and said, ‘I want you to buy this mare.’ I said OK after lunch we’ll call and see about her. She said, ‘No, I want to buy her right now.’ We picked up the phone and bought her right there without ever seeing her.

“Martin [Cockriel] sent her in here and she was in as good a shape as any horse we’ve ever bought. Every hair was in perfect order. He had done a great job with her and told us everything about her.

“She was a grand mare, the same every day. She’d eat part of her breakfast in the morning, lay down and take a nap and then get up and finish breakfast. We took her to Louisville three years in a row and Eva won the amateur qualifier and amateur championship and then Dale would show her back in the open stake and won it the first two years. They beat him the last time. That was an incredible record.”

Purchased by Flying V Farm after her 1982 world’s championships, So Lovely became the amateur entry of Art Viles. Under the direction of Bob Vesel she lit up the country winning at Pro-Am, River Ridge, Charlotte, Lexington, Raleigh and Louisville. In ‘83 she added another amateur title to her record and then in ‘84 again won both the amateur qualifier and championship at Freedom Hall.

Besides being one of the winningest roadsters of all time she was also one of the handiest. She could cut on a dime and never missed a turn. She will forever be remembered trotting through them like they were straightaways.

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