Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country course designer Derek di Grazia, has been with the event for over a decade, making a name for himself as one of the most notable designers in the sport today. Known for his fair but technically demanding courses, di Grazia has designed all over the world, included at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The USEA caught up with the athletes after dressage to see what tricks di Grazia has pulled out of his sleeve for this year's five-star track.
Yasmin Ingham / Banzai du Loir - 22.1
“I’ve been on a couple of walks now, and the more I look at it, the more I like it. So, I’m just sort of focusing on my minute markers, sort of all of the combinations and the different elements and making sure I know which lines I’m taking and what stride patterns. It’s looking good, and I’m looking forward to tackling it tomorrow.”
Tom McEwen / JL Dublin - 22.6
“I think it looks amazing to be honest. Derek’s got to be one of the best course designers in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to ride around a couple of his courses, so for me it’s all about getting into a good flow and building on your round as you go around, and he rewards you for good riding and flow. Take one too many chances, and I’m sure there will be a little error, but it’s a fantastic course. It’s very different for us from the U.K. to see firm-ish ground so this is a novelty for us this year.”
Tamie Smith / Mai Baum - 24.2
“I haven’t had a look in complete detail yet, but there’s a lot to do, and as everyone knows, it’s a five-star, and it’s a Derek course, so it should be fun.”
Will Coleman / Chin Tonic, Off the Record - 25.0, 31.2
“It looks like a typical Derek course. It’s sort of sneaky hard I would say. It all looks lovely and very inviting, but he’s got some very clever things, and you have to sort of be very on the ball all the way around, but that’s always how it is here. There’s just stuff sort of the whole way around, where in one little moment if you don’t react well, it could cause trouble. I don’t think it’s any one question that I am particularly concerned about, it’s just you’re really going to have to be on your toes for 11 minutes and 20 seconds.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp / Miks Master C, Deniro Z - 26.9, 29.0
“I think it’s a good course. It’s quite different than some years, a bit more twisty than I’ve seen it here before, so I think the time will be tight. There’s some very influential questions near the end when the horses are getting tired, so I think that’s something to be very conscious of, but I think it’s fair. It’s definitely a good course by Derek, and we just have to get our heads down and work hard.”
Boyd Martin / Tsetserleg TSF, Contessa - 28.3, 35.5
“On paper, [Tsetserleg TSF] should dance around it. I think it’s his eighth five-star, and he’s a seasoned pro, but you never want to get overly confident, and it’s such a tough course that it still isn’t guaranteed that even the seasoned veterans will get around well. I’ve got to ride him well, and I’ve got my green horse early, which will be quite a challenge, then I will get back to watch a bit, and Thomas will have a slightly different plan than Contessa. She’s bold and brave and a great galloper, and she’s fit as a fiddle, so I just have to read her a bit too. If she’s feeling good I’ll keep pushing, but if she’s starting to feel a bit shaky, I’ll slow her down here and there.”
Buck Davidson / Carlevo, Sorocaima, Erroll Gobey - 28.4, 36.0, 36.6
“It’s interesting. It’s a little bit different. In the last few years, we’ve started off going straight, and then we turned a lot coming home, so this year it’s a lot of turning at the beginning, and then turning you back up hill. So, coming home is this long, straight run. It should be interesting. I think it will probably suit Carlevo and Sorocaima more [than Erroll Gobey]. It certainly fair and beautifully presented, so now we just need to take our chances and give it all we’ve got.”
Sandra Auffarth / Viamant du Matz - 30.4
“The ground is perfect, and the jumps are fantastic, so it’s really, really nice, and I’m happy I came the long way.”
Woods Baughman / C'est La Vie 135 - 30.6
“It looks really nice. Florida was all brown, so coming up here, it’s green and beautiful, and the footing is good, and the course is unreal, so hopefully it’s a good day on Saturday.”
Alina Dibowksi / Barbados 26 - 30.7
“Yesterday, we went through it with the whole team, and it’s big, but I didn’t expect something else from a five-star. It’s also tricky, but a very fair build, so even the tricky fences or narrow fences, you really want to attack it. It’s not like it keeps you away from it, so now after the dressage, I will go with my Dad [Andreas Dibowski] again to slowly make a plan, and tomorrow I have the whole day for mentally preparing for the course, so I think it will be good.”
Zara Tindall / Class Affair - 32.6
"It’s great. There’s lot to do ,and hopefully there’s some nice lines that will be inviting. We’ve just got to make sure we put the right strides in and jump them at the right speed, and hopefully they can all come up to them nicely. You’ve just got to put it all together.”
Doug Payne / Quantum Leap - 33. 7
“Everything’s there to go do, and individually, nothing seems terribly daunting, but together, I think it’s going to be a true test for sure.”
Jennie Saville / Stella Artois, FE Lifestyle, Twilightslastgleam - 34.7, 35.7, 36.3
“I think it looks great. Derek is such a great designer, and this place is so beautiful, but I will tell you, last year I rode him [Twilightslastgleam] at Bromont, and he ended up winning because I could go quick on cross-country even though it was really rainy. It’s fun to have a Thoroughbred when you know you’re going to be out there for 11 and a half minutes. I like the striding, but he’s got a little stride because his back’s tight, so I was happy that nothing seemed to big, except for the Head of the Lake where I think I will add on him.”
Will Faudree / Mama's Magic Way - 35.1
“It’s not going to be a dressage competition, and I’m very glad I’m going to be sitting on his back when I leave the start box on Saturday. He’s a very good cross-country horse. If I do my job and get him there in the right balance and rhythm, he finds his way to get through the flags.”
Allie Knowles / Morswood - 35.8
"I’m really excited because I know he is. He’s such a wonderful partner to go out with. It doesn’t look easy by any means, but to have a horse that is hunting the flags for me and clearly is one step ahead of me is a good feeling for Saturday.”
Erin Kanara / Camground - 41.4
“It looks like Kentucky. It’s big, it’s brave, and they’ve done an incredible job on the footing. I know there hasn’t been much rain here, we haven’t had much rain at home, and it’s very clear that they have aerated where they needed to, watered where they needed to, and we’re going to get some rain [Thursday night], so I think the going is going to be about perfect. There are some technical questions that kind of are there for you to be careful, exactly on your line, and then there’s a couple of spots where you’ve got to be really brave and come in on a big gallop-y step. I think it looks good, it’ll be his [Campground’s] first time around the five long here, so it’ll be a test for him, but he’s definitely up for it!”
Zachary Brandt / Direct Advance - 43.5
“Now that that’s over, I’m glad to go gallop tomorrow. He’s such an amazing horse and he’s incredible cross-country and that’s why we’re here. I feel confident that he’s going to be great out there tomorrow. There’s a lot to do, but I think it’s a realty good course and I think it really suits him well. I’m really looking forward to getting out there.”
The CCI5*-L cross-country kicks off today at 1:20 p.m. EST with Buck Davidson and Erroll Gobey leading the way out of the startbox. Will Coleman and Chin Tonic will anchor the division at 3:48 p.m. Stay tuned for a post-phase report!
Don't forget to follow the USEA event coverage on social media!
United States Eventing Association (USEA) members at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention were in for a treat on Friday as the U.S. Eventing Team was on hand to discuss their accomplishments this year at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
“Test the best without hurting the rest,” said show jumping course designer Chris Barnard as he and fellow designer Marc Donovan led a lively discussion for nearly 50 participants at the Show Jumping Seminar on the first day of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.