By Kate Green
Allison Springer (USA) and the evergreen chestnut gelding Arthur are in the lead after Dressage at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, third leg of the FEI Classics™ 2013/2014.
Thirty-nine-year-old Springer and the 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse Arthur are one of the most enduring partnerships in the sport. Their brilliant score of 39.5, the only sub-40 mark in the field, comes as no surprise, even though good scores have been hard to come by in this phase.
William Fox-Pitt (GBR), a former dual winner of Kentucky, in 2010 and 2012, is in second place, five penalties in arrears, with the 11-year-old Bay My Hero, on which he was fourth at Pau (FRA) in 2012.
“He’s a cool horse and fun to work with,” said Fox-Pitt. “It’s a huge relief to score 44 because the marking has been quite strict, but he’s a real trier.”
Fox-Pitt is also in equal 10th place on last year’s runner-up, Seacookie, level with his former pupil, Sinead Halpin on the 2012 Burghley runner-up Manoir de Carney.
Lauren Kieffer (USA), 26, who has not ridden at a CCI4* since finishing 29th in 2010 on Snooze Alarm, finds herself in elevated company in third place on 46.7.
Kieffer, originally from Illinois, is trained by David and Karen O’Connor, and now has the ride on the 12-year-old mare Veronica, previously trained by Karen O’Connor.
Phillip Dutton (Mr Medicott), Jan Byyny (Inmidair) and Michael Pollard (Mensa G) are tied in fourth place on 49.5.
An all-female ground jury made up of Christina Klingspor (SWE) as president, Sandy Phillips (GBR) and Gill Rolton (AUS) placed Michael Pollard (USA) and Mensa G at the top of the leaderboard on the first day of Dressage when only two riders managed to break the 50-penalty barrier.
“Mensa has won the Dressage before and is pretty consistent, but his work today was probably the best he’s done, although we lost some marks with bad changes,” said Pollard afterwards. “We’ve been working hard on shaving the rough edges off every single aspect of the test and it’s paid off.”
Looking ahead to the Cross Country, Pollard commented: “I think it may be a little stiffer this year, but I’ve got a good horse who generally goes straight and has plenty of stamina.”
New Zealander Andrew Nicholson, last year’s Kentucky winner, has come to Kentucky with the declared intention of having a crack at the Rolex Grand Slam, worth $350,000 to the rider who can win Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley consecutively.
He is perhaps not as highly placed as he would like at this stage, in 11th position on dual Burghley winner Avebury, but is still in close contention ahead of what is expected to be a challenging Cross Country day.
US riders form the largest percentage of the field and their new team trainer David O’Connor will be earmarking potential combinations for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy in August – the US last won the team title in 2002 in Jerez (ESP).
With this in mind, the general consensus is that Course Designer Derek di Grazia (USA) has increased the difficulty of his Cross Country track. “It’s a strong course,” concedes Will Faudree (USA), “but it’s beautifully built and inviting.”
The course presents the usual mix of big, bold fences and accuracy tests, most notably a different route at Kentucky’s famous Head of the Lake water complex (18/19) and a new combination at 14abc, the Land Rover at the Hollow, where a keyhole fence is followed by a difficult line to a corner and a forward distance to an oxer.
Former Olympic gold medalist Jimmy Wofford (USA) predicts that this combination will be influential. He describes the field as “relatively inexperienced and extremely talented” and says: “Some will amaze us and some we’ll feel sorry for. It’s a hard course.”
Buck Davidson (USA) and Park Trader will be first out on the Cross Country tomorrow (Saturday) at 11am (US time). Follow what is sure to be a fascinating competition with live coverage of the entire event on the FEI’s official video platform FEI TV and see live results on www.rk3de.org
Results after Dressage
1 Allison Springer/Arthur (USA) 39.5
2 William Fox-Pitt/Bay My Hero (GBR) 44.0
3 Lauren Kieffer/Veronica (USA) 46.7
4= Phillip Dutton/Mr Medicott (USA) 49.5
4= Jan Byyny/Inmidair (USA) 49.5
4= Michael Pollard/Mensa G (USA) 49.5
7 Will Faudree/Pawlow (USA) 49.8
8 Doug Payne/Crown Talisman (USA) 51.2
9 Marilyn Little/RF Demeter (USA) 51.3
10= William Fox-Pitt/Seacookie (GBR) 51.5
10= Sinead Halpin/Manoir de Carney (USA) 51.5
FEI Classics™ 2013/2014 Leaderboard (after 2 of 6 events)
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 15 points
2 Christopher Burton (AUS) 15
3 Maxime Livio (FRA) 12
4 Sonja Johnson (AUS) 12
5 Craig Barrett (AUS) 10
6 Phillip Dutton (USA) 8
7 Shane Rose (AUS) 8
8 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 6
9 Stuart Tinney (AUS) 6
10 Donatien Schauly (FRA) 5
See full standings here.
FEI Classics™ 2013/2014 calendar
1 Les Etoiles de Pau CCI 4* (FRA) - 23-27 October 2013
2 Australian International 3 Day Event (AUS) - 14-17 November 2013
3 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) - 23-27 April 2014
4 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) - 8-11 May 2014
5 Luhmühlen CCI 4* presented by DHL Paket (GER) - 12-15 June 2014
6 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) - 4-7 September 2014
Photo Caption: Alison Springer (USA) and Arthur were outstanding in the Dressage, scoring the only sub-40 mark to take the overnight lead at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA), third leg of the FEI Classics™. Photo: Anthony Trollope/FEI.
FEI Photo Catalogue: Free images for editorial purposes are available for free download at www.feiphotos.org.
Notes to Editors
At the end of the FEI Classics™ 2013/2014 season, the five riders with the highest number of points collected across the six FEI Classics™ events will share a total prize fund of US$120,000 split as follows: 1st - US$40,000 (Series Champion); 2nd - US$35,000; 3rd - US$25,000; 4th - US$15,000; 5th - US$5,000.
Our signature twitter hashtags for this series are #Classics and #Eventing. We encourage you to use them, and if you have space: #FEI Classics™ #Eventing.
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