No one in the afternoon session on the first day of dressage at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event could catch the leaders from the morning session, and the top three from before the lunch break remain unchanged heading into the second day of competition.
As the last ride before the lunch break, FischerRocana FST (Ituango XX x Rose II) and Michael Jung laid down a lovely test for a score of 27.1 to take the lead. Michael, Bridgitte, and Joachim Jung’s 13-year-old German Sport Horse mare is a three-time winner at Kentucky with Jung in the tack and the pair is looking to make history by becoming the only four-time winner of a four-star at the same venue, but Jung explained that the strength of his partnership with “Roxy” helps ease the pressure.
“I always have the pressure from myself because [when] I go to the competition, I want to show the people and get myself the best result, so I do have pressure,” explained Jung. “With FischerRocana FST it is a little easier every year because I know her, and I know how I have to prepare. I get from every competition a bit more experienced, so it makes it a bit easier. I had two good competitions before [coming] here, so it makes me also a bit more relaxed. [FischerRocana] arrived here last Friday and she arrived very well and had a good feeling during the last weekend. Also, when I arrived here I had a really good feeling from her. It makes the preparation more relaxed.”
“I am happy with FischerRocana, there was a nice test I think I can ride her really nice and like I wish. I had for example a little mistake on the stop at A before the rein back, she stood not really quiet, but there’s just a few things like this and all in all I am happy."
Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg (Windfall x Thabana), Christine Turner’s 11-year-old Trakehner gelding, scored a 31.2 during the first group of the morning and are sitting in second place.
“I was really pleased with my bloke,” said of Tsetserleg. “It’s his first four-star and the first time we’ve gone through this new test. When you finish it, you always wish there was one part or another part that was a little bit better. All in all, Tsetserleg, or Thomas we call him, did as good as he could do with where we are at the moment. He’ll get better and better but at the moment we’re very pleased with his score and place.”
Martin has had 17 runs at Kentucky in the last 10 years, but most have them have been on Thoroughbreds – Thomas is the first Trakehner he has brought to the top of the sport. “Ten years ago when I came to America for the first time I saw Darren Chiacchia ride Windfall and I’ll never forget watching his dressage test here; it was spectacular. Who would have thought 10 years later I would be riding one of Windfall’s babies?," explained Martin.
Thomas was bred by Windfall's owner, Timonthy Holekamp and was then purchased by Turner who Martin says is an incredible owner for him. "She’s from Texas and we really sort of got together in the last two years," he continued. "She is a wonderful supporter, she’s a real character and we get along great. Thomas’s personality is wonderful, he’s like a big pony. To be honest at home he doesn’t try that much, you wouldn’t think that he could go four-star, he only jumps about that high over the jump and doesn’t show much of his ability. But then you get to a big competition like this he grows into a big 18-hand horse and pins his ears back and gives you everything he has. It’s rare, usually the horses change a bit for the worse in competition, this guy gets better. The atmosphere actually picks him up a bit. He’s a real character, he’s really cuddly in the barn. Good looking horse. We’ve got a mission ahead of us though, dressage is one thing but it’s a huge task on Saturday.”
Tamra Smith and Kevin Baumgardner’s 15-year-old KWPN gelding Wembley (Lester x E-VIP) lie five points outside the lead on a 32.1 for third place overnight.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Wembley because he can go into the test and be quite tense, but he was very relaxed and workmanlike,” said Smith. “He showed up and I couldn’t have asked him to be better. He was very good and accurate. Maybe I had a little bit too much warm up so he got a little tired throughout my test, but I was thrilled.”
Baumgarder, Wembley’s owner, has ridden him to the CIC3* level, and Smith said that it has been great riding Wembley for him. “We went to England and bought Wembley for Kevin. I’ll never forget we took him cross-country schooling and Kevin said, ‘You get on him first,’ and I said, ‘No, Kev, because I’m going to tell you to buy him.’ It’s wonderful, they’ve been huge supporters of me and it’s great to have him a part of the sport as well. He has been very much involved in U.S. Eventing, he was the past president [of the United States Eventing Association]. It’s wonderful, that’s what it’s all about really. They have become family to me. Just to be here is really great.
Caroline Martin and her own and Sherrie Martin’s 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Spring Easy (Garrison Royal x Castlegrogan Clare) were just the third to go this morning but picked up a 33.3 for fourth place. Phillip Dutton and Z (Asca x Bellabouche), the Z Partnership’s 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding sit just .4 away from them in fifth place on 33.7.
Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac, Anthony Connolly and Skye Levely’s 15-year-old Australian Thoroughbred gelding, and Elinor MacPhail O’Neal and Sally Crane’s 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding RF Eloquence (Contender x D-Ginger) were the first two pairs of the afternoon session and two of only three pairs from the afternoon to break into the top 10, scoring 34.2 and 34.8 respectively for sixth and seventh place.
Buck Davidson and Park Trader (Master Imp x Ballyhast Polly), Carl and Cassandra Segal’s 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, were the first pair down the ramp this morning and scored 35.0 for eighth place.
Sharon White and her own 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Cooley on Show (Ricardo Z x Jogantina) were the only other pair from the afternoon session to break into the top ten, scoring a 35.6 for ninth place.
Lillian Heard and her own Share Option, a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, round out the top 10 on 36.4. The pair are contesting their fifth consecutive Kentucky Three-Day Event and they have completed everytime.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, EquiRatings is predicting a very different leaderboard. In their Thursday wrap-up, the sports analysis company even predicted that only Jung would remain with the other nine of the top ten spots being occupied by different pairs. Some heavy hitters that could take over the top spot tomorrow are:
Nobilis 18 and Christopher Burton, who set the record for the best CCI4* dressage score on British soil in 2016. They scored 30.2 at Burghley (which under the new system is a 20.1).
USEA Young Event Horse Champion Cooley Cross Border scored 27.3 here last year with Kim Severson and should be in the top three tomorrow evening. This pair averages 27.2 from nine internationals in the last 12 months (the best of the U.S. horses and third best 12-month average in the field.)
Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class average 26.3 from five runs since last season, the best of any horse in the field with more than one run. Townend has competed at 50 CCI4*s since 2008 – Cooley Master Class is stepping up to the level for the first time.
RF Scandalous and Marilyn Little scored 25.3 at Luhmuhlen 2017 and average 27.6 from their last five internationals.
Dressage will resume in the Rolex Arena with Buck Davidson and Carlevo tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. Click here for full scores.
About the USEA Event College
The USEA Event College was created by the USEA and the Professional Horseman’s Council to generate awareness of the sport of eventing. The Event College aims to educate spectators, interested parties and the general public on the goals and function of each phase (dressage, cross-country and show jumping) and the complexity and value of the sport. The Event College also aims to educate young riders, adult amateurs, and all those interested in the sport on horsemanship and different skill sets needed to be involved with eventing. High-profile eventing experts will act as “professors” and host casual, interactive dialogue with “students” of the Event College. Anyone interested in the sport of eventing can be a student, and “tuition” is free!
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Bellamy, an Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding of unknown breeding, came to Tamra Smith’s farm in Southern California with his mane half-way down his neck and filled with burrs. Bellamy had been sitting in a field for a little over a year after unseating several riders in a row and Smith, known for being good with tricky horses, agreed to take him on.
Pan Am Games team gold medalist Tamra Smith and Mai Baum and five-star pairs Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.
The USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) programs have around 30 qualifying competitions each, and youngsters around the country are about to begin their seasons aimed at Championships.