After dressage at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, the general sentiment from the riders was that this year’s five-star cross-country course was a bit different than what has been seen at Kentucky in recent years but mostly resembled a typical Derek di Grazia course: a fair test of the horses that would require brave and bold riding. However, as the riders crossed the finish line yesterday, the resounding theme was that the course rode much harder than it walked. Many riders noted that they had to resort to plans B through Z when plan A was no longer an option.
Read on to hear from several riders on their thoughts on the course after they caught their breathe from the exhilarating 11 and a half minute ride, and check out the LRK3DE rewind to find out what happened where.
Tamie Smith / Mai Baum – 24.2
“[There was a little bit of a surprise] at the last water, the Corgi. He jumped in quite almost dead, and that’s a big effort over that corner, and he really had to try hard, and I got the five to the next brush. That was really the only thing I didn’t love.”
Tom McEwen / JL Dublin - 27.8
“He felt amazing out there. He possibly got a little bit tired about halfway around, but he jumped really well. [The course] very much so rode as expected. I do think it is starting to get a bit slick with this sort of drizzle or whatever it is, especially when they start to get tired. The ground really is holding up amazing. The course is actually built so that the more and more flow you can get, the more you get into it. I had a great ride. Dublin has seen everything from Europeans to Boekelo with me last year, and he was even taken aback by the crowds, but they definitely encouraged him home with a lot of whooping and hollering, so I was definitely loving that.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp / Miks Master C, Deniro Z – 28.5, 42.6
“It was tough enough! It took some riding, and the time was obviously very tight. It was interesting, the jump out of the Hollow, I think we all thought ‘Oh, it’s just a log, they’ll read it,’ but both of my horses really looked at that, which is interesting. I think they were sort of surprised to see it off of the turn. Not that they were going to stop, but it took some riding. The angles were easy on Deniro and a little tricky on Miks Master C. I think I just got in a little tight, and he was on a real line there. It was a well-designed, good course, and it took a lot of riding, and the time wasn’t simple and you just had to keep going. I commend Derek, he’s brilliant at this, and it felt like a real five-star today.”
Sandra Auffarth / Viamant du Matz – 30.4
“I think it was a really interesting countryside with all of the little hills, but for my feeling, it was in the right way, so it worked for the horses to go up, then they can breathe and then it goes again a little bit down so they can recover quickly, which makes it fun for both the rider and the horse. I think that is the best here. Out on cross-country, you have sometimes too many ups, so that really comes to a point where the horse is getting tired, and that was really nice here and fun to ride a bit up and down.”
Will Coleman / Off the Record, Chin Tonic – 31.2, 39.0
“Off the Record got a couple of extra strides in places I didn’t expect, but that can happen with him. He doesn’t have the biggest step, and he was a little wooden in a couple of places, but overall, I think the course rode much like I expected it to. It was not a finesse course. It really felt like you had to fight all the way around, and it really didn’t seem like you had many jumps where you just galloped. It was always a big table at the top of the hill on turn, or a big table at the bottom of a hill on a turn, and then you were at a combination, or you were at the Head of the Lake, or you ran up a hill and did the bank. It kind of felt pretty intense actually, and you had to really think as your horse’s stride started to change, and you had to pay attention to what you had underneath of you and react accordingly, but that’s five-star.”
Phillip Dutton / Z – 32.3
“He jumped everything beautifully. The ground was good, and it rode fast. There’s a very big crowd! We walk it without the crowd, and I’m looking at parts ahead of me thinking ‘Where do I go where?’ because there are so many people in front of you that you can’t actually look 400 yards ahead of you because of the crowds.”
David Doel / Galileo Nieuwmoed – 35.6
“It’s quite intense here with all of the turning left and turning right, and I think it just takes it out of them a bit. There’s really no where on the track that’s straight that you can gallop at, so you are having to sort of just keep your foot on the accelerator a little bit. You just can’t back off because I think you’ll very quickly lose hold on the time.”
Doug Payne / Quantum Leap – 37.3
“I decided I would go out a bit faster early. I couldn’t have asked for much more; he’s just such a wonderful horse. I think it was a very typical Derek course, when you walk it, everything looks totally manageable and normal, but I think there’s so much in the way of undulation here that it turns into a super instinctual ride. Your plan A often goes out the window right away. For sure there were a couple of spots where I intended one thing to happen and something else did, but as long as you have a good, well-balanced, straight horse with good energy, you’re fine.”
Emily Hamel / Corvett – 38.7
“There were a couple of places where I didn’t go to plan A, like maybe I doubted a step here or there, but he’s so adjustable, and he wants to get through the flags, so even if we have to go to not our first plan, he handles it well.”
Will Faudree / Mama’s Magic Way – 39.1
“Derek’s so tricky, and it’s so fair for the horses but it's so easy to go wrong. I think I went to plan A at the Normandy Bank. I went plan A at the last combination, but everything else I didn’t. At the first combination, I went to plan B, the coffin took me by surprise, and I had to get a bit gritty in there. The margin of error is just so slim.”
Stay tuned for a full report on the final horse inspection, which began for the CCI4*-S and CCI5*-L, in that order, at 7:30 a.m. EST. Five-star show jumping will kick off this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. in Rolex Stadium, and the horse and rider combinations will return in reserve order of placing to determine the next Land Rover Kentucky champion!
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After not running in 2020 and 2021, the MARS Bromont CCI Three-Day Event returned to the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Center in Quebec, Canada, in 2022. America's Jennie Saville (née Brannigan) and Twilightslastgleam won the CCI4*-L, as the chestnut Thoroughbred gelding (National Anthem x Royal Child) bred and owned by Nina Gardner moved up from eighth after dressage into the lead after cross-country with the fastest round on wet ground over the tracks designed by Derek di Grazia. Canada's Lindsay Traisnel and Bacyrouge, a bay Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago x Lelia) owned by Patricia Pearce, finished second, and they are among four from the top-10 in the CCI4*-L in 2022 that return in 2023.
Hannah Sue Hollberg of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, was on a winning streak at the Essex Horse Trials on Sunday, claiming victory in both the $10,000 Open Intermediate and Open Preliminary divisions with two horses that are fairly new to her. Some difficulty on cross-country did not stop her mount Hachi from claiming victory in the Open Intermediate with a score of 101.6, while Open Preliminary partner Rockster finished on his dressage score of 27.3.
The great football coach Vince Lombardi said, “We win our games in practice.” With the goal of having the most effective practices possible for horses, their riders, and their coaches, Cathy Wieschhoff explains some signs that can indicate when horse and rider should repeat an exercise, switch it up, or be done with that activity. Wieschhoff brings perspective as a five-star rider that has competed at the Kentucky Three-Day Event and Burghley Horse Trials, a USEF “R” Course Designer for eventing cross-country and show jumping, a former Area VIII chair and member of the USEA Board of Governors, and a Level V USEA ECP Certified Coach based out of Carriage Station Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.