Yesterday’s three-way tie was broken today in the CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian. Tamra Smith, Doug Payne, and Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp were joint leaders on a score of 28.1 in yesterday’s portion of the dressage, but 25 horses completed the CCI4*-S division today, and two pairs bested the three-way tie to take over.
Judges Mark Weissbecker and Helen Brettell saw some lovely tests today, but it wasn’t until Canada's Colleen Loach and Vermont entered the arena in the second to last group, when they gave out a new leading score. “I knew he could do it if he was calm, but sometimes tension gets the best of him,” Loach explained of Peter Barry’s 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Van Helsing x Hauptstutbuch Hollywood) who stands at a very tall 18.2 hands. The pair earned a score of 27.0, besting yesterday’s leading scores by 1.1 points. “Monty was great today. I couldn’t have asked for more today, so I’m thrilled with him.”
Four rides later, Tamra Smith entered the arena on Ruth Bley’s mare, En Vogue (Earl x Laurena). “She was quite scared of the cameras, so I wasn’t sure what she’d do when she got in there,” Smith said of the 16-year-old Hanoverian mare. “But, she’s a professional now, and she knows how to dance. I’m really proud of her,” she exclaimed after scoring a 25.4 to move into the lead. “We have a great partnership and she tried really hard in there.”
“The cross-country is pretty serious but we’re at Kentucky. It looks really challenging really but I think all the horses are up for it,” Smith said of Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course. Smith explained that she entered this competition to be competitive, but she says she has to wait and see how the horses come out of the start box to finalize her game plan. “En Vogue I think is ready to be competitive and go fast. Danito, I won’t know until I get out there – he’s quite green and young and I’ll see how it goes when I go out there. I’m going to go take another look at the course this afternoon, but I’m excited.”
Only two other pairs broke the sub-30 mark. Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play, the Donner Syndicate's 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Condors Champion x Roxana) scored a 28.7 to slot into seventh. The final ride of the day, Jessica Phoenix and her own 19-year-old Westphalian gelding, Pavarotti (Pavarotti Van De Helle x Fidelia) earned a 29.8 for eighth.
The CCI5*-L dressage will continue today at 12:15 p.m. with Boyd Martin first to enter the arena on the Turner family’s On Cue. Buck Davidson and Katherine O’Brien’s Carlevo will wrap-up the division today when they ride at 5:27 p.m. and then both divisions will tackle Derek di Grazia’s cross-country courses tomorrow.
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“Horses are so humbling,” says Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride with a wry laugh.
We are speaking a few days after the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event. She is on her way to go cross-country schooling with her beautiful black horse Favian, before tackling the CCI4*-L at Jersey Fresh.
Her week wasn’t supposed to pan out like this. She and Favian should have been resting on their laurels after completing their first CCI5* at Kentucky. However, they fell on the cross-country, and ticking that five-star box will have to wait for another day. Luckily, they are unharmed, Favian has already “cruised around some easy stuff” on an earlier cross-country schooling outing, and Vizcarrondo Pride is determined to start righting the ship at Jersey Fresh.
The 18th annual Jersey Fresh International (JFI) gets underway this afternoon at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, N.J. The CCI4*-L is the final selection trial for the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this summer so all eyes will be on the stacked field.
This year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L was on April 21-25 and was the first five-star event to take place in the U.S. since 2019. The entry list had the best riders in the world, previous Kentucky champions, Olympic hopefuls, and horses who have been eventing in the U.S. since they were 4 years old.
US Equestrian is seeking applications of employment for their Director of Eventing Sport Management & Administration position.