The remaining 33 CCI5*-L horses competing at the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian CCI5*-L did dressage today, and it was the late afternoon group that packed the most powerful punch. Mai Baum who scored a 21.8, Tsetserleg TSF who scored a 25.4, Ballaghmor Class who scored a 26.5, and Carlevo who scored a 26.7 all went down the centerline after 3:45 p.m.
There are only 0.1 penalties between the two leading ladies claiming the first and second spot in the CCI5*-L. While no one was able to beat Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous's 21.7, Tamra Smith and Mai Baum came very close. The pair scored a 21.8 to sit 0.1 penalties behind Little going into cross-country tomorrow.
The best horse of the day was Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira) the 15-year-old German Sport Horse gelding owned by Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn, Eric Markell and ridden by Smith. Mai Baum is going into this weekend as a five-star first-timer but, that didn’t stop him from throwing down an exceptional test. “That was definitely his best performance. He was actually nervous, I think he knew it was a big day.”
“A horse of a lifetime,” described Smith of Mai Baum (aka Lexus) who showed his exceptional talent in the ring today. Acquiring the ride on Lexus in 2015, Smith remembers Mai Baum when he was a young event horse. “I think anybody who saw Mai Baum as a 4- or 5-year-old, there was no doubt he was going to be special. He’s a phenomenal creature, and I had always admired him from afar. Alex brought him up through the CCI2* (now CCI3*) level. She took me to dinner and said I want you to have the ride on Lexus. I’m getting chills thinking about that night. It changed my career. It’s been an amazing journey with the family. It’s a fairytale.”
Watch Mai Baum's test:
The 63 horse and rider pairs are of the highest caliber and Smith was pleased to see the competitiveness at Kentucky this year. “I was really excited to see New Zealand, Great Britain, Australia, and Germany here. You always want to be in a competitive field. It’s a stacked field, and tomorrow is going to be really exciting.
“The plan is to not leave anything on the table,” said Smith as she goes into tomorrow’s cross-country.
Boyd Martin has three horses entered in the CCI5*-L and all three horses have scored in the 20s in dressage. The lowest scorer of his three was Tsetserleg TSF (Windfall x Thabana) a 14-year-gelding Trakhener gelding owned by Christine, Thomas, and Tommie Turner, and bred by Tim Holekamp who scored a 25.4 to sit in fourth going into tomorrow’s cross-country. “It felt good,” said Martin of Tsetserleg TSF’s dressage test. “He’s a great little horse. He’s a veteran at this level now, and he’s just fun to ride. He’s such a trier, he goes in there and gives it his all every time. I’m really pleased with him.”
“Dressage is a tough sport where you always think of a movement where you could have been better, but on the whole he was good. I’m pretty lucky, Silva has been working really hard on all my horses here. It’s a huge advantage having her school them and train them, and having a dressage coach here watching your every single ride. A few of them got a bit hot in the warm-up and she quickly went through some exercises which diffused them and relaxed them so I’m a pretty lucky person. Silva’s test ride [at Fair Hill] helped a lot. It was more of a schooling ride, she didn’t try to win the test – it was more, really she even did two stretching circles and re-did a halt, and she got a terrible score so it didn’t look good on paper, but it was a really good exercise for her to school the horses in competition mode because they do change a little bit, they do get a bit hot and fiery at the show,” said Martin.
“All three horses are pretty different. It’s tricky - you get very nervous and fired up and terrified on the first horse, and if you get around well there, it’s important you don’t relax and think it’s an easy go. I’ve made that mistake before. Vice versa, if something goes wrong on the early rides, you’ve got to put that behind you and pick yourself up and get on with the next one. They are calling for a bit of rain tomorrow, but that won’t bother my lot – they’re good gallopers, and well-schooled, and I’ve just got to ride them perfectly,” said Martin as he heads into cross-country with three different horses who are all resting in the top 12.
The 2017 Burghley winner, Ballaghmor Class is rounding out the top five going into tomorrow’s cross-country. Ballaghmor Class (Courage II x Kilderry Place) is a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop, and Val Ryan, bred by Noel Hickey, and ridden by Oliver Townend. The very competitive pair has finished in the top five at every five-star they have done together. But today, Townend was slightly disappointed in his test that scored a 26.5. “I think the last time we did that test he was on a 20.8 [but] it’s a three-day event. We are still close enough and I think the course will cause some trouble,” said Townend.
For tomorrow, Townend said, “He’s probably going to run a little fresh, but he’s been around Badminton and Burghley five times altogether. He’s got plenty of mileage, he knows what he’s doing - he’s a proper five-star horse,” said Townend who is currently ranked in the FEI rankings as the number one event rider in the world.
The original schedule for tomorrow was reversed due to expected weather conditions and now the CCI5*-L will go before the CCI4*-S. The first out of the box is Jonelle Price on Grappa Nera at 8:30 a.m.
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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.
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