Marilyn Little has been staying home and focusing on RF Scandalous’ training over the last year and that strategy seemed to have paid off as she scored a personal best dressage mark to take a commanding lead in the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Little was confident heading into this year’s event aboard Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders’ 13-year-old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia). “I knew she was capable of putting in a great test today,” said Little. “I have been working quite hard with Bo Jenå, who is the chef d’quipe of the Swedish dressage team, over the past year and a half. I think it has been steadily improving. I haven’t competed her so much because we have been focusing on the training, and I thought if she put in her personal best she could be on top today and we will see how it goes.”
Little was excited about drawing a Friday ride time and hoped that “Kitty” would handle it well. The Friday draw proved to be beneficial as only four of the current top 20 rode on Thursday. “She was a little bit excited with the Friday afternoon atmosphere which we all know is part of the Kentucky event,” explained Little. “She was very businesslike and gave me a great ride. She was really looking to please and did her job.”
What does it feel like to be on the top of the leaderboard at the biggest event in the U.S.? “Those feelings will come and go I am sure. I am going to enjoy this very moment and then I am going to go out there and walk the course and move on to the next feeling,” said Little.
Little isn’t just competing Kitty this week, she is also riding in the inaugural CSI3* show jumping competition that is running concurrently this weekend. “It is a very special weekend for a lot of reasons . . . to have the opportunity to ride them is incredible. It is also special because my show jumper, Clearwater, is owned by Karen O’Connor who has been around this event many, many times herself. We have a great team here. I only have one event horse so they all meld together, they all train together. It is not an unusual program, it is just that much more fun and just a bit more busy.”
Michael Jung was bumped out of the top spot by Little, and now sits in second by 2.3 penalties on FischerRocana FST. With just over 20 points separating first from last place, time penalties will play a huge factor in tomorrow’s placings. Jung said that he is hoping to go clear and fast, but will be smart about it. “I hope that we can enjoy it because everything is perfectly prepared. We have super ground, super weather for tomorrow. We have a really, really good course. It is a tough course, but a really nice build with many options . . . I think in the end there are tough combinations, so we need a lot of power in the end. We need to take care that we don’t start too fast.”
Christopher Burton is hot on Jung’s heels – he scored a 27.9 riding Nobilis 18, Sue Lawson, Carolyn Townsend, and Burton’s own 13-year-old Hanoverian Gelding (Nobre XX x Lilli). “I was very delighted with him,” said Burton. “He stayed lovely and relaxed. Of course there are always things I wished I did better, but I am really happy with the horse. As we know with horses, things can always be worse.”
“I haven’t been back to Kentucky since [the World Equestrian Games] in 2010 and obviously I am delighted to be here. It is a really beautiful track and a really beautiful place. I walked the course yesterday by myself and had a nice time out there – me and my trundle wheel. I was thinking, ‘Gee, this is really one of the best courses in the world.’”
Three-time Kentucky winner Kim Severson rode into fourth place aboard Cooley Cross Border, The Cross Syndicate’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz). The pair scored a 28.3 and was trending quite high in the trot work, but the canter brought the overall score down. “He got a little more nervous as we got into the canter work,” explained Severson. “My flying changes are a struggle, but the rest of his work is good. I thought he was really good and he kept it together well.”
Another Cooley horse rounds out the top five; this one is Cooley Master Class, Oliver Townend’s ride, who scored a 28.7. The 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Ramiro B x The Swallow) is owned by Angela Hislop.
Cross-country gets underway tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. with Buck Davidson and Park Trader the first out of the start box. Stay tuned for a full course preview with thoughts from course designer Derek di Grazia and many of the riders.
Did you miss any of yesterday's action? Catch up here.
The USEA Event College is in Session
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!
Miss any of the videos? Catch up with them here:
Lynn Symansky on Fitness Routines for a CCI4* Horse
Caroline Martin Discusses Bits
Elinor MacPhail O'Neal on Fighting Nerves at a CCI4*
Tamra Smith Previews the Head of the Lake
EquiRatings Predictions for Cross-Country Day
"No matter how old you are, be open to all disciplines, learn how to ride a dressage horse, a gaited horse, a show jumper. Go fox hunting and point-to-pointing and horse showing. You’ll learn from all of them and when you do decide which discipline you want to do, you’ll be better at it anyway.”
The University of Findlay’s Three-Day Eventing Team was established in 2013, the same year USEA voted and approved the USEA intercollegiate program. The UF team has over 30 members encompassing a variety of majors at the university. The team has access to two indoor arenas, a large outdoor arena, and 70 acres of on-site cross-country fences.
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.