The curveballs didn’t fall short on the second day of competition at the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian. Yesterday there was snow, and today there was a new venue record set in the CCI5*-L dressage. A total of 30 CCI5*-L horses did dressage in front of three judges - Christina Klingspor of Sweden at C, Robert Stevenson of the U.S. at B, and Peter Gray of Canada at H.
The horse that performed best was the 16-year-old Oldenburg mare, RF Scandalous (Carry Gold x Richardia) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Phoebe and Michael Manders and ridden by Marilyn Little. "Kitty" scored a 21.7 to secure the lead and with that score the pair broke the record of the lowest dressage score recorded in the last 10 years at Kentucky. The record to beat was William Fox-Pitt who scored a 22.2 in 2013 with Chili Morning.
Watch Little's leading test:
“She just said, I’m ready, let’s do it, and I was able to push enough, and given the five-star fitness and where we are now, it was fantastic, I’m so proud of her. She always wants to do it right,” said Little. “I’ve learned to trust that she’s going to go in there and do her job. She’s my horse of a lifetime.”
“There are so many good ones coming tomorrow, we’ve got some real movers and some great riders with a ton of experience so it’s going to be a great competition.” Little added, “It’s a different year without the crowds, without the people, the fans of the sport. I know that they love this weekend too, and it’s such a wonderful thing for the equestrian community, for everybody to be a part of together. It’s an individual sport, but in moments when you’re here, you feel it, everyone’s pulling for everybody, and especially at a time like this, we needed that. I know there are so many people at home, on the screens, watching everywhere – keep cheering, we can hear you, and we’re all really lucky to be able to play the game still.”
On the heels of Little and RF Scandalous were the last pair of the day and the two-time reigning champion, Cooley Master Class and Oliver Townend of Great Britain who scored a 24.1. “I’m very happy with his performance. It’s the best test he’s done at Kentucky,” said Townend of his 2019 and 2018 winning partner, Cooley Master Class (Ramiro B x The Swallow) a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Angela Hislop.
With cardboard cutouts replacing spectators this year, the grandstand looked and felt different. Townend explained, “he’s probably one that does miss the crowd a bit. He’s laid back - you don’t have to worry about him blowing up, you more worry about keeping him going in the dressage.”
“This is one of my favorite events in the world, and it puts a lot of places to shame how purpose-built, how immaculate, and how fantastically organized the whole thing is,” said Townend who’s returning to Kentucky after winning the event the last two years it’s been held.
Another previous Kentucky Champion who sits in the top three is William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain. The three-time Kentucky Champion returned to the bluegrass state after six years and threw down a 27.2 with Oratorio (Oslo Biats x Cinnamon Brulee) a 12-year-old British Sport Horse gelding owned by The Oratorio Syndicate. “It’s very nostalgic to be back, and I got quite emotional pulling in,” said Fox-Pitt. “To be able to bring him here is such a great opportunity. I feel very lucky. It is quite a miracle to be here.
“He’s been a lovely horse to produce. Laura Collett started him off, and then he’s been quite a big dinosaur, so he came to me, and I’ve really enjoyed producing him. He’s always got a glimmer of something about him – he’s got class, he’s got a real way about him – he’s not a fancy dressage horse, he’s not a fancy jumper, but he does the job. I hope his day will come, he’s an exciting horse.”
“He’s by my five-star horse [Oslo Biats], and we crossed him with a Thoroughbred. We’ve got a more blood version than his dad. He’s a real athlete. He’s a real blood horse. He’s hopefully a five-star horse through and through.”
Fox-Pitt looks forward to tackling Derek di Grazia’s track on Saturday with his athletic mount. “There’s enough to jump out there. There are four serious water jumps, there are skinnies everywhere and you could easily miss one of those. It’s a true five-star course. You will want a galloping, genuine, athletic horse. I’ll be very pleased when Saturday is done,” said Fox-Pitt.
The remaining 33 CCI5*L horses will do dressage tomorrow starting with Boyd Martin and On Cue going down the centerline at 12:15 p.m.
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