The global sports data and technology company, EquiRatings, a partner of USEA, has set out six facts for eventing fans to consider following dressage and heading into cross-country day at the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Judges Deserve Credit
While most of the talk has been about the dressage multiplier, it is worth mentioning that we saw a superb job from our dressage judges (Sue Baxter, Jane Hamlin, and Christian Landolt) over the last couple of days. The expected average for the field was 35.3. The actual average of the field was 36.
The other thing that people constantly ask for from judging is consistency. All three judges scored within 1.6% of each other – meaning that there were no key horses or riders who were favored or punished by any judge.
The Effect of the Multiplier
Those responsible for the removal of the dressage multiplier also deserve credit. Cross-country will the most influential phase in deciding the winner of Kentucky 2018 (and CCI4* level generally from now on). Just 22.4 penalties separate first and last at the moment.
At the moment, it looks like we will avoid the wet cross days of recent years, and that could be a major influencer. The average time penalties at Kentucky in the last three seasons is 19.1. Just 11 combinations have been clear and inside the time in those three years.
If we compare that to the two years before (2013, 2014), 30 people made the time in those two seasons, and the average time penalties over those two years was 7.0.
The big question today, with the field so tightly bunched, is what time test we are going to see?
Let’s use Spring Easy (Caroline Martin) at 11.04 and Z (Phillip Dutton) at 11.08 as our guide. On our speed ratings, both of these horses sit in the middle of the field. If either of these are close making the time, it would suggest we will see a year when 10 or more could do it. If they have 5 time penalties or more, it would suggest it will be tougher.
The fastest horses on the EquiRating Speed ratings are:
Nobilis 18 (Christopher Burton)
FischerRocana FST (Michael Jung)
Donner (Lynn Symansky)
Steady Eddie (Boyd Martin)
Banderas (Pawel Spisak)
Covert Rights (Colleen Rutledge)
Cooley Master Class (Oliver Townend)
MHS King Joules (Oliver Townend)
Landmark’s Monte Carlo (Lauren Kieffer)
Over the last three seasons, the average jumping clear rate in the cross country here is just 51% - and when you look over 10 seasons, it sits at 53% - the toughest of the four-star venues. This is suggesting we are likely to see about 1 in every 2 get home without jumping penalties today. The other 50% tends to split reasonably down the middle with 25% being eliminated or retiring and 25% completing with jumping faults.
Looking at the Leaders
The last time someone came from outside the top 5 after dressage to win at Kentucky was in 2006 when Andrew Hoy and Master Monarch got a 53.1 dressage and won, he was the only horse to finish on his dressage score (FOD) that year.
In recent years we have seen people get close to the front and stay there:
Position after dressage:
2017 Winner: FischerRocana FST – 2nd after dressage
2016 Winner: FischerRocana FST – Leader after dressage
2015 Winner: FischerRocana FST – 4th after dressage
2014 Winner: Bay My Hero – 2nd after dressage
2013 Winner: Quimbo – 2nd after dressage
The Leader – RF Scandalous: Expect some time penalties to knock them down the order. Six runs since the start of the 2017 season (all levels) and yet to be inside the time. 6.8 time pens at Luhmuhlen CCI4* last season on a day when many were inside the time.
The Defending Champion: A total of six seconds over the time from FischerRocana FST’s three visits (4 in 2017, 2 in 2016, clear in 2015). Expecting her to be in the top 2 this evening.
The Fastest Rider in the World: Christopher Burton is the fastest rider in the world. As a rider he has been clear inside the time at CCI4* level 45% of the time. Only Michael Jung on 54% has a better rate at the level. Nobilis picked up 3.2 pens en route to winning Burghley 2016 and has been clear inside the time at Aachen in 2017.
The Home Team: Kim Severson has been clear and inside the time in three of her last six Kentucky runs but Cooley Cross Border has achieved it just twice in his last 10. One of those was their CCI3* win at Blenheim in 2017. They will need a repeat of that performance to stay in touch with the leaders. If she can stay within a rail of Nobilis and FischerRocana FST after today’s action, Severson has a huge chance.
Cooley Master Class: The Cooley brand continues to grow and grow in our sport. Last season they had a total of six CCI4* runs. This season, they will have equaled that record by next week. To have two in the top five here is a huge achievement. Oliver Townend is here to win a Rolex Grand Slam. Townend has competed at 50 CCI4*s since 2008 – Cooley Master Class is stepping up to the level for the first time. He made the time at two CIC3* runs in his last four (Jardy, Burnham Market, both 2017).
Two More Shots For the Home Nation: Donner and Tsetserleg – One very experienced. One on an upward trajectory. Both have form which suggests they can maintain or improve their current places in the top 10.
Cross-country gets underway today at 11:00 a.m. with Buck Davidson and Park Trader the first out of the start box.
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