Apr 03, 2023

Contenders for Kentucky Five-Star Put in Strong Prep Runs over Weekend

By Jonathan Horowitz - USEA Staff
Left to RIght: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. USEA/Tina Fitch photo. Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool. Shannon Brinkman photo

The top of the leaderboards from last weekend’s events were filled with riders preparing for the CCI5*-L at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. The two CCI4*-S at the Galway Downs International H.T. (Temecula, California) and The Event at TerraNova (Myakka City, Florida) are prestigious competitions in their own right and served as stepping stones for the first American five-star on the 2023 calendar. Also, the CCI4*-S at the Eventing Spring Carnival at Thoresby Park in the United Kingdom helped prepare some of the international entrants for Kentucky.

This year marked the first time TerraNova is hosting an event in the spring, complementing the fall event that will take place in November and go up to CCI4*-L. Cooley Be Cool (Heritage Fortunus x HHS Carlotta) is preparing for his first CCI5*-L and won the CCI4*-S at TerraNova. The 10-year-old gray Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by The Monster Partnership and ridden by Liz Halliday-Sharp were second after dressage with a score of 26.6, jumped clear, and added 4.0 time penalties on cross-country for a final score of 30.6.

“He’s a horse I really believe in, and he totally deserves this win today,” Halliday-Sharp said.

Leslie Law and Voltaire De Tre, who are preparing for their fifth five-star and fourth trip to Kentucky, also jumped clear. The 14-year-old chestnut Selle Français gelding added 8.4 time penalties on cross-country to move up from 23rd after dressage to eighth out of 53 in the final standings with a score of 42.1.

Meghan O’Donoghue and her 17-year-old bay Thoroughbred gelding Palm Crescent (Quiet American x Edey’s Village) followed the same formula and with no jumping penalties in the CCI4*-S at TerraNova but did not press the pace on cross-country, adding 17.6 time penalties for a finishing score of 51.6 in 17th place.

Coming off their win in the CCI4*-S at the Carolina International (Raeford, North Carolina), Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS (Chin Champ x Wildera) posted the best dressage score of 19.6 and were double-clear in show jumping at TerraNova. The 11-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding owned by Hyperion Stud did not run cross-country.

“He’s been in a really good place this year, I’m pretty happy with him,” Coleman said. “He continues to get a little better each year, and that’s the idea with all these horses, you keep trying to strive for a little bit more.”

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS. EQ Media photo

Buck Davidson did the same with his Kentucky entries Erroll Gobey (Cassini II x Ulla II) and Sorocaima (Rock Hard Ten x Sankobasi).

While TerraNova served as the East Coast four-star prep for the Kentucky five-star, Galway was the West Coast four-star prep. Tamie Smith occupied the top-two spots in the CCI4*-S with five-star veterans Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira) and Danito (Dancier x Wie Musik). Danito was first after dressage with a score of 21.8 and Mai Baum right behind on 22.2. Both horses were double-clear in show-jumping. A faster cross-country round by Mai Baum gave the 17-year-old German Sport Horse gelding the win with a score of 31.4 in his first competition since the FEI Eventing World Championships at Pratoni in Italy.

“I went for it with both horses, and I really tried to go faster with Danito,” Smith said. “He’s more of a long-format horse. I can ride Mai Baum a little faster because he sets himself up for the jumps so well. Danito is not quite as careful, and he’s a bit strong, so that’s part of it. But, both were awesome, and I’m thrilled.”

Tamie Smith and Danito. Tina Fitch photo

Also in the CCI4*-S at Galway was Nemesis (by Novalis), the 9-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding preparing for his first CCI5*-L. Rider James Alliston also has him entered in the CCI4*-S at Twin Rivers (Paso Robles, California) next week. Alliston used Twin Rivers last year to prepare for his return to Kentucky.

Other Kentucky-bound riders competed at the Chattahoochee Hills H.T. (Fairburn, Georgia) as their prep runs. Valerie Pride and her 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding Favian (French Kiss x Risiko) were second in the Advanced/Intermediate. Lauren Nicholson and Jacqueline Mars’ Irish Sport Horse gelding Landmark’s Monte Carlo (Formula One x Glamour) turned in the best dressage score of 28.2 at Intermediate and then elected not to complete cross-country.

“I’ve used ‘Chatt’ for the last 10 years as my final Kentucky prep, and I love the event for that,” Nicholson said and added, “I want them to have a good stretch of their legs and feel super confident.”

International entrants for Kentucky tuned up in the CCI4*-S at the Eventing Spring Carnival at Thoresby Park over the weekend. Defending World Champion and 2022 Kentucky runner-up Yasmin Ingham and the 12-year-old Selle Franç ais gelding Banzai Du Loir (Nouma D’auzay x Gerboise Du Cochet) finished third after posting the second-best dressage score of 25.4. Kirsty Chabert and Classic VI (Calvaro F.C. x India Summer) were fourth as they prepare for their first trip to Kentucky.

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin (Diarado x Zarinna) had a dressage score of 25.7 and withdrew after that. William Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht (Birkhof's Grafenstolz x Nachtigall) and Zara Tindall and Class Affair (Obos Quality 004 x Ruby’s Rosshaven Flight) were also in the field at Thoresby Park. Classic VI and Grafennacht are cross-entered for the CCI5*-L at Badminton as well.

These riders competed in different parts of the country and the world but shared the goal of getting to the same destination together at the end of the month.

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