“It’s a four-star, there’s no question. You had to ride well. There was questions everywhere, there was plenty of places to have mistakes, but I don’t believe cross-country courses should just be tough. I think [Derek di Grazia] got the balance exactly right,” said Christopher Burton in the press conference following the conclusion of cross-country at the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. The other riders joined in Burton’s praise of course designer, di Grazia, who changed things up quite a bit in his seventh year of designing.
Ahead of the day di Grazia thought only two to three pairs would make it inside the optimum time of 11:03, but there ended up being 11 who crossed the finish line with zero time penalties.
“I think that the ground ended up being quite fast today because you couldn’t have asked for better conditions, and I think that allowed a lot to go fast,” explained di Grazia. “If we had a bit of rain I think things would have been different, but you never know. I think we had a really good field of riders today and they all had a crack at it and we ended up with a lot, but they had to work at it.”
Watch the cross-country round of Lynn Symansky and Donner, who are the highest placed American pair, courtesy of USEF Network.
Three pairs withdrew before the start of cross-country (Jennifer McFall/High Times, Ronald Zabala-Goetschel/Wundermaske, and Caroline Martin/The Apprentice) so 43 pairs left the start box today. Of those that left the box, there were three rider falls, four retirements, and six pairs who picked up jumping penalties, but di Grazia was pleased with those statistics.
“Generally I am very happy with how the course rode,” continued di Grazia. “I think the faults were spread out throughout the course and we had quite a number clean with no jumping faults. I think that all the combinations rode fairly well and at the same combinations people did things differently and it still worked out for them, so anyways I was very happy. Again, there weren’t any horse falls today, which I think is a great thing and I think we had some great riding which to me is all a positive.”
One big change this year was having the Head of the Lake later in the course. It came up at 18ab/19ab and caused problems for just four pairs (two rider falls, one runout, and one missed flag).
“I think having the Head of the Lake at a little past 7 minutes was good,” explained di Grazia. “I think they were fresh enough at that point. Once they get past the Normandy Bank is when you start to see horses start to get tired. I think in some ways it is an advantage to the riders because the Head of the Lake is quite a big thing when you come there, not only with the crowds, but there is a lot to do and I think being well into that course at that point the horses and riders should be into a good rhythm at that point.”
Here is what happened out on course today:
Buck Davidson and Park Trader were the first pair on course and they picked up one runout at 26b, the Mighty Moguls.
Joe Meyer and Clip Clop had a refusal at 13a, Pete’s Hollow, a second refusal at 15ab, the Fallen Trees and then retired.
Ellen Doughty-Hume fell over the final element of the Head of the Lake (19b) when Sir Oberon misread the question and laid on the skinny wedge. They are both unhurt.
Elinor MacPhail O'Neal and RF Eloquence had two runouts at 6d, the Park Question, and then retired.
Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac pick up 20 penalties at 15b (the Fallen Trees) and then missed a flag at 26b (the Mighty Moguls) so picked up another 50 penalties.
Andrea Baxter picked up refusals at 18b (the Head of the Lake) and then 21d, the Normandy Bank angled brushes.
Hawley Bennett-Awad had a stop at 4a with Jollybo. The pin broke on the Water Park rails and she chose to retire.
Holly Jacks Smither took the option at the Head of the Lake with More Inspiration, but popped out of the tack over the corner (18b). She was up quickly and they walked off easily.
Alexandra Knowles had a stop with Sound Prospect at 10b (the Rolex Grand Slam Challenge corner) and then fell at 21d (the Normandy Bank). They both walked off the course unhurt.
Lillian Heard’s LCC Barnaby jumped the wide side of the corner at 18b (The Head of the Lake) and missed the flag, but quickly rerouted to the option so only picked up 20 penalties.
Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie pick up 20 penalties at 6d (the Park Question) and chose to retire.
Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border had a runout at 26b (the Mighty Moguls).
Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights picked up 20 penalties at both 10b (the Rolex Grand Slam Challenge corner) and 26b (the Mighty Moguls).
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
Phillip Dutton Explains How to Make the Optimum Time on Cross-Country
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.