Apr 29, 2023

Smith and Mai Baum into Land Rover Kentucky Lead: “I Couldn’t Have Asked for Anything More"

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Lexington, Ky.—April 29—Tamie Smith has been partnered with Mai Baum for eight years, and they’ve been all over the world together. With a top-10 finish at Badminton Horse Trials (England) last spring and a top-10 finish and team silver medal with the U.S. team at the FEI World Eventing Championships (Italy) last fall, 17-year-old “Lexus” has only been getting better as he moves into the twilight of his career.

Smith and the German Sport Horse gelding (Loredano 2 x Ramira) came to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event this week as one of the top contenders, and after a dramatic shuffling of the leaderboard on the cross-country course, the pair came out on top with one of six double-clear rounds over Derek di Grazia’s course. British rider Tom McEwen, in his Kentucky debut, and JL Dublin maintained their second place, adding 5.2 time penalties, and Liz Halliday-Sharp rode five-star first-timer Miks Master C to third with 1.6 time penalties.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Smith said about her ride. “That horse is such a fighter. He’s got a huge heart, and we’ve had a long partnership. These are a little bit what dreams are made of.”

While Smith joked that she got lucky with McEwen and JL Dublin being a newer partnership, she was thrilled with her ride on Alex Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell’s gelding.

“I think I was more tired than he was! I kept thinking, ‘Come on buddy, you can do it.’ He got tired at one point, but then kept going,” she said. “The last water at the Corgi, he jumped in almost dead, and that’s a big effort over that corner. He had to really try hard, and then I got the five to the next brush, but that was really the only thing I didn’t love. It’s so special and amazing. It’s hard to top that.

“I love producing the horses from midway and up, and he and I have been able to learn together a little bit,” she continued. “It’s really special he's been able to take us all over the world and then to be able to finish here at 17 double-clear. Preparing at my homebase on the West Coast in California is even better. I hope he has a lot left in him and he springs over those jumps [tomorrow] like I know he can. I’m more nervous going into show jumping tomorrow than I have been in the past from having my disappointment in Pratoni [where the pair had two rails down], but my horse is healthier and feeling fitter and better, so I just pray to all the people out there to just will us over those jumps!”

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin.

McEwen only took over the ride on Jo and James Lambert and Deidre Johnston’s JL Dublin last summer, but he and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Diarado x Zarinna) have quickly become a strong partnership.

“I stuck to the plan,” McEwen said. “The course was magnificent. It was presented beautifully, and to me, it rode perfectly. There’s a few things you would always change, but that’s part of riding. I was delighted with ‘Dubs.’ For me, it just shows—I’ve had a very short partnership with him—and it shows to me what an amazing job Nicola [Wilson] has done with Dubs and what a partnership they’ve created.”

McEwen hasn’t been able to have many runs this spring due to England’s wet weather.

“In Britain, we’ve had no runs this year, so I’ve never really had to test him, and now we’re here at the five-star,” he said. “It’s a shame to have a few time penalties, and it’s something we could easily change.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C.

Halliday-Sharp and Ocala Horse Properties’ and Deborah Palmer’s Miks Master C moved from fifth the third. The 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF) was bred in the U.S. by Laurie Cameron and is a USEA Young Event Horse graduate.

“I had a plan to try and make the time with him because he is a spectacular horse,” she said. “He’s a great galloper, and I think the world of him, so I just sort of planned to go out of the box and see how he was tackling the course. He was just absolutely brilliant. I was totally thrilled with him. He got a little strong on me at the end, so those were the couple of time faults with 1.6 corrected. But honestly, for his first five-star, I couldn't have asked for more. He's just spectacular athlete.”

Yasmin Ingham and The Sue Davies Fund's Banzai Du Loir (Nouma d’Auzey x Gerboise du Cochet), the leaders after dressage, incurred 20 penalty points at fence 6C of the Park Question, as well as 20 time penalties.

Twenty-six pairs completed the course, and six of those had jumping penalties. Jennie Saville and Twilightslastgleam picked up 11 penalties for a frangible pin at the Park Question. Allie Knowles fell from Morswood at the second brush at the Normandy bank, while Booli Selmayr fell from Millfield Lancando at the drop into MARS Sustainability Bay. Five-star first-time Sydney Solomon fell from Early Review CBF when the mare twisted over the corner at the Cosequin Cover. There were no reports of horse horse rider injury.

Lauren Nicholson opted not to start Landmark's Monte Carlo.

You can catch up on more of the cross-country action here.

Show jumping will close out the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event on Sunday starting at 2 p.m.

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