The weathered dairy farmer from Down Under is here with his horses again, at least for the nine days of the Washington International Horse Show.
Kevin Bacon, the "no-age" rider from Australia and one of the world's top 10 equestrians the past few years, will make his third appearance in the 19th edition of the show that runs at Capital Centre Oct. 22-29.
He joins at least two dozen of America's finest riders plus the official teams of Canada. Great Britain, West Germany and the United States in the international-open jumping that will highlight the show.
"At least he wakes everybody up," said one veteran show follower as Bacon turned in one of his patended rounds with his aged gelding, Chichester.
And that he does. From the time he ambles into the ring to walk the course until his final dramatic charge at a barrier. Bacon has that element most desired at horse shows - color.
It will even be more evident this year, with the Aussie riding against the precise Germans, who will be making their first appearances here since the show was switched from the Armory in 1975.
Bacon, who laughingly declines to give his age, will acknowledge that he was the leading rider in New Zealand "around 1962." He has been riding on the international scene for the past dozen years, winning top-rider honors at the National in New York in 1975 and sharing the Classic magazine sash as leading international rider with Ireland's Eddie Macken here last year.
Bacon travels about the world with his string of jumpers, competing for Australia. However, except for the Olympic Games at Montreal, 1976, he is on his own. "I pay for everything," he told a reporter a few years ago.
One of his major victories here was in 1975 when he and Chichester combined to turn in a round in the fault-and-out event that was remarkable.
The class, which gives a rider points for every fence jumped within a time limit, ended with Bacon and Chichester going three fences farther than runner-up Joe Fargis on Mystic. It was a brilliant round and it had the crowd on its feet.
Bacon has an unusual riding style that accentuates his charisma. "He fences like a flying squirrel," said Caroline Banks of Horse Play magazine a few years ago.
Going over the jumps, he loses all contact with his mount except that of his hands. "He lifts his horse over the fences," said another spectator after the Inverness Farm Challenge Trophy event at the Centre last year.
Looking a little like Ichabod Crane, especially when riding Chichester, a small horse, Bacon is a much needed addition to international jumping in which many of the competitors tend to ride with cool, unemotional style.