The world-renowned Derek di Grazia returns this year as the cross-country course designer for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian. Di Grazia has been a staple in the success of the Kentucky Three-Day Event over the years and has designed cross-country courses at some of the top events around the globe, including the recent Tokyo Olympics. This year’s riders have shared their thoughts on the course before they leave the start box, and multiple riders stated that the course demands instinctual riding.
Alexandra Knowles / Morswood – 35.1
“Being on the horse that I love going cross-country on the most, I’m excited! I have a healthy respect for the course, but there’s no better horse to tackle it on.”
Doug Payne / Vandiver – 34.9
“The course looks excellent. Derek does a wonderful job, always. I think it’s going to be a super reactive, kind of instinctual ride that will prevail. It should be interesting. You’re just looking to put together the plan. Walking the course, you need to figure out every sort of failure-mode possible and you already have the decisions made when x, y, z happens – so if you’ve done that, then there’s not a whole lot to honestly be worried about. You’re nervous because you want to do well. We chose to put [Vandiver] first since the conditions are always better, and for him he’s kind of an odd ball in his mannerisms and how he goes, so honestly watching other horses doesn’t give me a whole lot of input. I’d rather just know that he’s got the best conditions to prevail, so early is good for him. I’m looking forward to the finish line.”
William Coleman / Dondante – 37.4
“It’s sort of typical Derek, it doesn’t terrify you, but you’ve got to be pretty sharp the whole way around. He’s changed it a little bit from last year, so there’s not a lot you can gleam from last year’s course, but he’s got some good questions. I think it’s more of an instinctual cross-country test. The hollow looks interesting, and at the Head of the Lake the horses have to be really with you. You can’t just like set it up and bang them through it, you have to ride each element with a lot of feel.”
Hannah Sue Burnett / Capitol HIM – 37.5 , Harbour Pilot – 37.0
“I like the course. It flows quite a bit better than last year, and I also like that there’s less letters. Last year there were so many A, B, C, D, E, F, G elements which caught me up at the coffin when I went wrong after I had a little run-by. It’s nice, I think it’ll flow well. Derek does a good job for setting the tone for the course early, with softer questions and building on them. I’ll be really on my game to make sure that I have an awareness of where the horses are, and build on that as the course goes. My two horses go very differently. [Capitol HIM] is a lot more responsive I would say, and [Harbour Pilot] likes to fly around. On [Capitol HIM] I’ll try to be as direct as possible, because I can slow down and turn on a dime whereas with [Harbour Pilot] I have to really be planning to slow down or turn. Hopefully I’ve fine-tuned that in training. You hope to get as much information on the course as you can from your first horse to your second, but I won’t necessarily be taking that information as far as how many strides I do between each jump in the combinations.”
Booli Selmayr / Millfield Lancando – 45.2
“The course looks amazing. I’ve been at beautiful tracks before, but there is nothing like Kentucky. The footing is amazing, and the jumps are so clean, and clear, and big and beautiful, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and giving it a go.”
Woods Baughman / C’est La Vie 135 – 39.5
“The course is fantastic. It’s roped, it takes every inch of the terrain. It’s nice, it curves with the land and so you can just go out and have a gallop, and everything, all the jumps are presented beautifully. I think if you have the horse with you and paying attention, you’ll be able to get it done.”
Boyd Martin / Tsetserleg – 29.3
“Go as fast as I can, and don’t fall off.”
Sarah Bullimore / Corouet – 25.7
"I have to say I am on a tiny pony and it looks quite big to me! As these guys said it is a beautiful track and Derek has done a fantastic job. All of the jumps are out there for us to go out and jump. There’s enough to do. I think you could go out there and have a fantastic ride and still come back with a 20. There are a few lines where Derek has taken you just off the line and you could have a silly 20. It’s big and technical, so we’ve got to be on our A-game."
Marc Grandia / Campari FFF – 37.5
"If I can keep up with him (Campari FFF) tomorrow, he’s got all the parts to be a real contender."
Buck Davidson / Carlevo – 27.4
"Derek is obviously very good at what he does. The fences are beautifully presented and although as it maybe doesn’t look as big as it did last year there were a lot of big jumps and a lot of drops. It is for sure tricky and the water at the end looks to be quite difficult. Derek is a genius at what he does. It maybe doesn’t look as scary, but there is plenty to do and plenty of places to have a silly mistake. I’m going to go as fast as I can, and try to go clear. The conditions are perfect for him – he doesn’t love the soft ground. He really tried hard here last year but we had bad conditions."
Michael Jung / FischerChipmunk FRH – 20.1
"I think it is a really nice course, really nice build, really nice jumps. Super gallop track. In the beginning very hilly, a little bit more twisty, but I think we have super conditions. Maybe at the moment it looks a bit hard, but if it is raining in the night or in the morning it will be perfect and I think it is a very nice course."
Lexi Scovil / Chico’s Man VDF Z – 35.5
"For the most part, the course looks really doable. I’ve got a couple of things that I’m questioning what my options are and whether I’m going to go straight or take a long route. I think I’m going to have to test out how he’s feeling on the day. What makes me feel great is there is not a single line where I go ‘oh I don’t know if I can get that done’ – I think individually I can get them all done, whether I can piece them together, we’ll see tomorrow."
Tomorrow, the CCI4*-S will kick-off cross-country at 9:00 a.m. with trailblazers Liz Halliday-Sharp and The Monster Partnership’s Cooley Quicksilver. Bobby Meyerhoff and his own Albano will anchor the division at 11:18 a.m. William Coleman and Team Rebecca, LLC’s Dondante will pave the way for the CCI5*-L at 12:50 p.m.
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