Now that entries are officially closed for the 2023 edition of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, it's time to take a look at the star-studded field that will be contesting the first of two U.S. CCI5*-L events this year. While big-name athletes like current World Champion, Yasmin Ingham, and U.S. fan-favorite, Boyd Martin, may be the initial draw for some eventing enthusiasts, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is eager to watch the impressive 11 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) graduates compete for top honors in the five-star division.
Chin Tonic HS, Covert Rights, Dondante, Early Review CBF, Ferrie’s Cello, Mai Baum, Miks Master C, Off the Record, Tsetserleg TSF, Twilightslastgleam, and Quantum Leap will all represent the USEA YEH program as they contest the pinnacle of the sport of eventing, the CCI5*-L, in the Bluegrass state at the end of the month.
Chin Tonic HS, the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ x Wildera), has already seen early success in the 2023 season with his win in the CCI4*-S division at the Setters' Run Farm Carolina International CCI & H.T. (Raeford, North Carolina) in March. Like all three of the YEH Grads that Will Coleman will pilot at the Kentucky Horse Park this month, "Chin" has been campaigned by Coleman since his YEH days when the gelding came in third place on an 83.2 at the Surefire Farm (Purcellville, Virginia) qualifier in 2017, then finished in fifth place on a score of 78.08 in the YEH-5-Year-Old division at The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships (Elkton, Maryland) that same year. The pair has achieved a number of accolades over their years together, like their top 15 placings at iconic events like Luhmühlen and Aachen in Germany in 2022, and they are sure to be a top contender at the five-star this month.
Covert Rights (BFF incognito x Let’s Get it Right) and Colleen Rutledge have had a long and successful partnership that began in the YEH 4-year-old division in 2010. The now 17-year-old Thoroughbred-Clydesdale cross gelding, owned and bred by Rutledge, competed in the USEA YEH East Coast Championships in 2010 and 2011, achieving a fifth-place finish on a score of 75.55 in his 4-year-old year and a seventh-place finish on a score of 81.91 in his 5-year-old year. Since then, Rutledge and "CR" have climbed all the way from the Open Beginner Novice division to the CCI5*-L level together, logging eight wins in international events and over 25 top-3 finishes throughout their career.
Dondante, the second of three mounts for Will Coleman, is a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Pachino x Muckno Clover). Owned in partnership by the Four Star Eventing Group and Team Rebecca LLC, Dondante made his debut with Coleman in the irons in 2015 when he went on to win the YEH 5-year-old division at Waredaca Farm (Laytonsville, Maryland) with a score of 83.37. Later that year, the pair finished in third place on a score of 81.96 at The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast 5-Year-Old Championship at Fair Hill. In 2022, "Al" and Coleman won the Cloud 11-Gavilan North LLC Carolina International CCI4*-S and The Fork at TIEC (Mill Spring, North Carolina) Advanced division and bested their seventh-place finish at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in the spring with a sixth place at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill that fall. Will the pair continue to climb the leaderboard in their next 5-star appearance?
Sydney Solomon will make her five-star debut at the Kentucky with the 14-year-old Hanoverian mare Early Review CBF (Earl x Lois Lane), owned and bred by Laurie Cameron. Originally campaigned by Lillian Heard, Early Review CBF competed in YEH classes in 2013 and 2014. In his 4-year-old year, the gelding won the YEH-4 division at Waredaca Farm with a score of 81.82 and went on to finish in 13th place at the USEA YEH East Coast 4-Year-Old Championship later that year.
In 2014, "Coco" and Heard improved their championship results by finishing in fourth place in the 5-year-old division at the East Coast Championships on a score of 77.91. Solomon took over the ride on Early Review CBF in 2015 and has campaigned the horse from Training through the CCI4*-L level. With a recent sixth place finish in the CCI4*-L at the Morven Park (Leesburg, Virginia) in 2022, Solomon and Coco look poised and ready to take on their first five-star together.
Ferrie’s Cello (Chello III VDL x Karelza), the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jeanne Shigo and bred by J. Sneller, will be piloted by Andrew McConnon, another five-star first-timer, at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day. In 2017, Caroline Martin rode Ferrie’s Cello to a reserve championship title in The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast 5-Year-Old Championship with a score of 86.41. McConnon took over the ride from Martin at the end of 2019 and has had immense success with the gelding since. Already in 2023, the pair won the Open Intermediate B division at Pine Top (Thomson, Georgia) in February and then finished second in the Advanced division at Carolina International in March.
Mai Baum, the 17-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Lordano x Ramira), is no stranger to the spotlight. With Tamie Smith in the irons, Mai Baum is coming off a very successful year after gaining two top-10 finishes at the Badminton Horse Trials CCI5*-L and the FEI World Eventing Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro in 2022. The gelding, owned by Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell and bred by Sachsische Gestutsuer Waltung, started his career with Michele M. Pestl when the pair finished in fourth place in the 4-year-old division at the 2010 Event at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, Montana) with a score of 73.8.
Pestl and "Lexus" competed at Rebecca Farm again the following year as well in the 5-year-old division and finished in fifth place. In Smith and Lexus' first outing since helping to secure the team silver medal at the World Championship last fall, the duo went on to win the CCI4*-S division at Galway Downs International (Temecula, California) just a few weeks ago, putting them on great footing as they prepare for Kentucky.
Ocala Horse Properties LLC’s 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, Miks Master C (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF) and Liz Halliday-Sharp will contest their first 5-star together at Kentucky. In the gelding’s first event in 2016, Miks Master C won the YEH-4 division at Surefire H.T. (Purcellville, Virginia) with Waylon Roberts on a score of 79.73. He then went on to finish in 11th place with Phillip Dutton in The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast 4-Year-Old Championship that year and 18th place with Roberts in the 5-Year-Old Championship in 2017.
Campaigned by Maya Black for the majority of his career, Miks Master C won the CCI4*-S division at The Event at Rebecca Farm in 2021 and finished in second place in the CCI4*-S at Morven Park later that year. Since Halliday-Sharp took over the ride in 2022, they've placed in the top 2 in five out of the seven events they’ve competed in, including wins in the CCI4*-S division at Rebecca Farm and the Mars Bromont CCI (Quebec, Canada). "Mikki" and Halliday-Sharp are also coming into the event on a hot-streak, finishing in the runner-up spot to Coleman and Chin Tonic HS in the CCI4*-S at the Carolina International in March.
Coleman’s third and final ride in the CCI5*-L will be Off the Record (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay), the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Off the Record Syndicate. In 2014, "Timmy" and Coleman recorded two second place finishes at YEH 5-year-old qualifying events and came in ninth place at The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast 5-Year-Old Championship on a score of 76.74.
Last year, the pair represented their country in the CCI4*-S at Aachen, where they finished in sixth place individually, and at the FEI World Eventing Championship, where they were the highest-placed U.S. combination, finishing in seventh and helping the team secure the silver medal. Timmy also comes to Kentucky with a recent win at Ocala Winter I (Ocala, Florida) in the Open Intermediate A division and a second-place finish at the Stable View CCI4*-S (Aiken, South Carolina).
Tsetserleg TSF, the 16-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall x Thabana), was bred by New Spring Farm, is owned by Christine Turner and will compete in his fifth Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event this year with longtime partner Boyd Martin. “Thomas” competed in the YEH program in 2012 and came in fourth place with a score of 79.43 at the Longwood Farm (Ocala, Florida) YEH qualifier with Cristin Stoop in the irons. Martin and Thomas have been together since 2016 and have represented the U.S. at two World Championships (Tryon in 2018 and Pratoni in 2022), one Pan American Games (Lima in 2019), where they won both individual and team gold medals, and the Tokyo Olympics Games in 2021. While they have come incredibly close to the top with a second-place finish in 2019 and fourth place last year, Martin and Thomas have yet to bring home the win in Kentucky. Will this be their year?
Nina Gardner’s 12-year-old homebred Thoroughbred gelding, Twilightslastgleam (National Anthem x Royal Child), graduated from the YEH program in 2015. With Jennie Saville, née Brannigan, in the irons for most of the horse’s career, Twilightslastgleam, better known as “Comic,” finished as reserve champion on a score of 82.83 at the 2014 USEA YEH East Coast 4-year-old Championship and returned in 2015 to finish in seventh place on a score of 77.61 at the 5-year-old Championship.
After continuing his success with Saville, Comic was also a frontrunner for the 2017 Holekamp/Turner YEH Le Lion d’Angers Grant. Most recently, Comic and Saville won the Mars Bromont CCI4*-L and the Advanced division at Red Hills International (Tallahassee, Florida) in 2022. The pair contested their first CCI5*-L at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill last fall and will likely be hunting to improve on their 16th place finish at Kentucky.
The 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy), bred domestically by Elizabeth Callahan and owned and ridden by Doug Payne rounds out this impressive group of YEH graduates. "Quantum" competed in the 2015 USEA YEH East Coast 4-Year-Old Championship where he finished third, and again as a 5-year-old in 2016 where he finished seventh.
Two years later, Quantum was the 2018 Holekamp/Turner grant recipient where he and Payne represented the U.S. at the FEI World Breeding Eventing 7-year-old Championship at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France. In 2022, the pair finished in third place at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event and were crowned the 2022 USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Champions as the highest placed American in the competition. It may be hard to top their results from last year, but we have no doubt that the pair will be top contenders going into the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.
The USEA wishes all of those competing at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event a safe and successful week. Check back after the event to see how our YEH graduates fared in the CCI5*-L!
About the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program
The Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses aged four- and five-years-old, that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the four- and five-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.
The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee, Parker Equine Insurance, Capital Square, Kerrits, and The Jockey Club for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championships.
The USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) has initiated a renewed focus on the diverse challenges coaches in various regions of the country may be facing. To this end, the program is in the process of enlisting representatives in each of the 10 USEA areas to help guide the program as warranted for the unique needs of each specific area.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has opened nominations for the annual appreciation awards through Oct. 29. This is an opportunity for the sport to recognize those horses and riders who excelled in eventing throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor the very important people who have served the sport tirelessly both in a non-riding capacity and riding capacity during their golden years.
Anticipation for the 2024 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship and inaugural USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) Championship is growing, and the host venue, Stable View, is up for the task of making both events an unforgettable experience for all involved. For the first time, the Intercollegiate and IEL program championships will be hosted on the same weekend at the Stable View H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina, on May 4-5, 2024, creating greater unity between the programs and demonstrating a clear pipeline of participation in the sport from grade school through college and beyond.
The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has made five rule changes which will go into effect October 1, 2023. Familiarize yourself with these rule changes below to make sure you are in compliance before heading out for your next event.