Apr 29, 2018

Townend and Cooley Master Class Emerge as Winners of the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class, winners of the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Oliver Townend and Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class (Ramiro B x The Swallow) left all the rails in their cups this afternoon to rise to the top of the leaderboard and secure the win in the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

The top three were separated by a mere 1.2 points headed into today’s show jumping competition, so when both FischerRocana FST and Michael Jung and Nobilis 18 and Christopher Burton incurred penalties, it left the door open for Townend and Cooley Master Class to take the lead. Although Townend has completed 50 four-star competitions in the last 10 years, this is Cooley Master Class’s first attempt at the level, and the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding finished on his dressage score.

“Obviously [it is] a fantastic feeling,” said Townend of what it feels like to take home the win at Kentucky. “I had to do a bit of arm twisting to get the horses here because there was no funding from Great Britain this year. My owner[s] Angela Hislop and Tom Joules, who owns [MHS] King Joules, gambled on me to win a bit of money back. I’m just very pleased that the horses have come through with great results and that I’ve hopefully repaid my owners’ gamble on me.”

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

“We’ve had him since he was 4 years old,” explained Townend. “He’s always been a favorite at home by all the members of staff and myself. He came right at the end of a period [when] I’d sold an awful lot of good horses, in terms of Landvision to Mark Todd, lots and lots of different horses to obviously set my life up, buy property and suchforth. [Cooley Master Class] came right at the right time in terms of when I sat on him I said, ‘Right, this one, we’re going to, one way or another, keep.’ I was lucky enough to sell him to Angela Hislop to keep the ride, and he’s pretty much won at every level all the way through. He’s never really let us down. He’s just had a couple of niggles injury-wise and at certain stages of his career we’ve often thought, ‘My god, is he actually ever going to come through with what we know he can come through with?’ We know how talented he is, we’ve seen him do some very special things at the home competitions, but at certain points in his career it didn’t quite look like he was ever going to come to fruition. These last two seasons he’s toughened up and we’ve found a way to manage him better and learned more about him. He’s always been cheeky, always been talented, and we’re very pleased that he’s finally come through with it.”

This coming week, Townend will compete at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials with Ballaghmor Class and Cooley SRS as he attempts to secure the third and final win he needs to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. In addition to this win aboard Cooley Master Class, he won the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials last fall aboard Ballaghmor Class. When asked about the pressure of the possibility of winning the Grand Slam, he said it doesn’t affect his mental state. “I’m very fortunate to have two very nice horses also belonging to Angela Hislops, so we’re both living in dream world at the moment. Angela came up to me about six years ago and said she’d like, when she started owning for me, horses at four-star and a British team horse. So far we’ve been to two four-stars and won both of them with her horses and the other horse was on the British team last year. So we’re both living in dream world and hopefully it will continue for another week. After that, I’m not too worried!” If he wins at Badminton, he will become only the third person in history to secure the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing alongside Michael Jung and Pippa Funnell.

Townend’s second ride, Tom Joule’s 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding MHS King Joules (Ghareeb x Gowran Lady), had just one rail down to drop from equal fourth place to finish in seventh place on a final score of 35.3.

“[I’m] thrilled,” said Townend of his ride aboard MHS King Joules. “I’m really pleased. If someone would have said, ‘Do you want to sign the piece of paper to say you came out with one down,’ after I’d walked the course I’d have happily signed for that. He’s possibly the most difficult horse I’ve ever ridden and possibly the most talented, and that’s in all three [phases]. So for him to put up the performance that he’s put up this week I’m just as happy with his performance as I am with the performance of the winner.”

Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST (Ituango XX x Rose II), his own, Bridgitte, and Joachim Jung’s 13-year-old German Sport Horse mare, three-time winners of the Kentucky Three-Day Event, had one rail down this afternoon to drop out of the lead and back into second place behind Townend and Cooley Master Class.

“I’m very happy about FischerRocana,” Jung said. “I was a little sad, more about me, because that was absolutely my mistake – I was too far away from this fence. But my mare tried hard and it was still a good round. One down, one down too much, but I’m happy. All in all, it was a very nice week again here in Kentucky. I really like this event, it was really beautiful. I’m very happy to be here. It was just a really nice week.”

“She’s a very nice horse,” commented Jung when asked about FischerRocana. “She’s very sensitive and very nervous sometimes but she can very good concentrate and focus on the rider and on the thing what she have to do. She’s very nice to ride for the dressage, she’s not a mover like a dressage horse but she’s very concentrate and very correct and all these things, and [she has] a very good walk. Also, in the jumping and in the cross-country she’s not a horse with the best talent but she is very good in the brain and she has very big heart. She tries and she fights. I think for her it is important that I get her very young. We growing up together, we learning together and we learning about the good things from each other, and we trust each other. I think that’s the best thing. Otherwise it would not work because the quality is not, like you think it’s a four-star horse, so you have to know that she can do it.”

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Marilyn Little and Jacqueline Mars and Pheobe and Michael Manders’ 13-year-old Oldenburg mare RF Scandalous (Carry Gold x Richardia) were the leaders after dressage on a score of 24.5 but dropped back to eighth place after adding 8 time penalties on cross-country. They finished third overall after jumping a double clean round this afternoon to become the top-placed American pair and the Land Rover USEF CCI4* National Champions.

“It’s an incredible honor to be up here alongside Michael and Oliver,” said Little. “I’m very lucky to have an incredible team of people that helps make it all happen, not just to bring an event horse here but to be able to compete in both show jumping and eventing. It’s the team around you I think, and the fact that I have two very special horses. I’m very grateful.”

“[RF Scandalous] came into the stable at 8 years old,” described Little, “and she’s a diva. She’s notoriously difficult in the stable, strikes fear into the heart of many of the people that have to take care of her. But she knows her people, she knows me and Katie Madruga, who is with her at all times. She is very trusting and she’s a wonderful horse to ride. She has an incredible sense of the moment, knows when to turn it on. She loves performing for the crowd, so the bigger the crowd, the better. She’s a real princess, which was actually a concern early on. We wondered if she was going to be too delicate, too fragile, and too careful for eventing, but she’s actually become a  very brave, courageous horse, and she will give you 150 percent of everything she has.”

Phillip Dutton and the Z Partnership’s 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding Z (Asca x Bellabounche) and Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus (Sazeram x Wake Me Gently), Jacqueline Mars’ 11-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding, both jumped double clean rounds in the Rolex Arena to move from eighth place and tenth place to fourth and fifth, respectively.

Lynn Symansky and The Donner Syndicate’s 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Donner (Gorky Park x Smart Jane) completed the weekend in sixth place on a score of 35.3 after incurring four faults in show jumping today. Originally tied with Townend and MHS King Joules, Symansky and Donner finished closer to the optimum time on cross-country yesterday, so when both pairs dropped a single rail this afternoon, optimum time served to break the tie.

Eighth place went to Sharon White and her own 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Cooley On Show (Ricardo Z x Jogantina). The pair rose steadily up the leaderboard over the weekend from 23rd after dressage on a score of 35.6 to 11th after a double clean cross-country round yesterday and finally to eighth place after putting in another faultless round today.

Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18 (Nobre XX x Lilli), his own, Sue Lawson and Carolyn Townsend’s 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, held second place overnight but pulled two rails in today’s show jumping to drop down to ninth place on a final score of 35.9.

Buck Davidson and Copper Beach (Radolin x Cloverballen) round out the top ten at this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Davidson and Carl Segal and Sherrie Martin’s 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding added just 1.6 cross-country time penalties to their dressage score of 34.4 to finish in tenth place.

Full scores are available here.

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The USEA Event College was created by the USEA and the Professional Horseman’s Council to generate awareness of the sport of eventing. The Event College aims to educate spectators, interested parties and the general public on the goals and function of each phase (dressage, cross-country and show jumping) and the complexity and value of the sport. The Event College also aims to educate young riders, adult amateurs, and all those interested in the sport on horsemanship and different skill sets needed to be involved with eventing. High-profile eventing experts will act as “professors” and host casual, interactive dialogue with “students” of the Event College. Anyone interested in the sport of eventing can be a student, and “tuition” is free!

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