Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes – David Bowie’s rocker kept playing in our head as the Cross-Country, designed by Derek di Grazia for the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone, provided its own dramatic footage to rival the opening credits of the old Wide World of Sports show hosted by Jim McKay for ABC, featuring the kettle drum roll as film rolled about The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat. But at Kentucky Horse Park it wasn’t that luckless ski-jumper tumbling off the end of the jump run, it was the Rolex four-star cross-country course that looked straightforward and yet tested the best of our riders.
Right now, Mary King (GBR) reigns in the two top spots with Kings Temptress and Fernhill Urco, 2007 Rolex winner Clayton Fredericks (AUS) sits in third with Be My Guest, and the highest placed American, Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville follow in fourth place – both of them contesting their first-ever four-star.
Allison Springer & Arthur - bittersweet disappointment after a brilliant start. ©
Cross-country day began with third-placed Allison Springer and Arthur the first duo out of the start box. They went great guns around the course until 26ab, the Offset Brushes. Arthur stumbled, Allison fell off and that ended their bid for a second Rolex watch. They’re fine, but what a sorry way to finish their fourth Rolex. Allison had won the Rolex watch drawing at the sponsor/exhibitor party Thursday evening, plus a pair of bling boots as winner of the distaff Dubarry Style Award for the first vet inspection. Allison had a second ride, Destination Known (“Burger”) who handled his first four-star XC until the Land Rover Hollow (13abc) where he skidded to a 20-point penalty, then had another refusal at the Couble Corners (15ab), but a third stop at the Normandy Bank (22abc) resulted in their elimination.
Karen O’Connor showed her great skill in getting a rookie horse around a testing four-star course as Quintus 54, owned by Team Rebecca LLC, met the challenge and jumped cleanly with 14 times penalties to improve from 24th to 13th: still a good chance of taking home a rosette…
Karen O'Connor & Quintus 54, who proved himself in the four-star, jumping clear, but picking up time penalties - they're in the hunt, so to speak, for a rosette, but the painted rails can be so cruel in those shallow cups... © Lauren R Giannini
R-Star and Kristi Nunnink stood 13th after dressage but came to grief at 15ab, the Double Corners, when they fell and were eliminated. R-Star got up right away, Kristi was taken to get her arm checked out, but she’s been spotted here at the KY Horse Park.
The Land Rover Hollow – 13abc – featured a skinny brush that proved the waterloo for no less than nine competitors, mostly refusals and runouts, that jacked up the score for:
Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Eagle, who still moved up from 25th to 19th;
Michael Pollard & Icarus – dropping them from 11th to 22;
Kelly Prather & Ballinakill Glory – another 20 penalties at Normandy Bank dropped them to last place, 30th;
Peter Barry (CAN) & Kilrodan Abbott, but they moved from 35th to 27th;
Will Coleman & Twizzle – eliminated at the Double Corners;
James Alliston & Jumbo’s Jake – 20 penalties at Rolex Head of the Lake, dropping from tied at 5th to 20th BUT his second rider, Parker, zoomed up from 43rd after dressage to 15th post XC;
Olivia Loiacano, 22yo, & Subway – rocketed from 44th after dressage to 17th on the strength of jumping clear cross-country with 12.8 time penalties, in their first four-star ever.
The list is incomplete, because we keep running out of time and getting diverted to important things like a course walk with renowned international show jumping course designer, Richard Jeffery, of Bournemouth, England.
The show jumping starts very shortly – more in a few hours about who will wear the Rolex Crown of Excellence after the dramatic finale to 2011 Rolex Kentucky, presented by Bridgestone…
But we gotta say one thing’s for sure – it ain’t over ’til the final jumping test is over. In this morning’s vet jog, 29 presented and received the ground jury’s nod. Only one did not present: Wonderful Will who was in 12th after cross-country, Michael Pollard will pilot Parker, 14th place, over the painted rails.
Crushing disappointment for Tiana Coudray & Ringwood Magister - in first after dressage - to be eliminated on the cross-country - shown here, squinting at the splash as they navigate through the Rolex Head of the Lake. © Lauren R Giannini
Right now only 14.7 penalty points separate the leader Mary King and Kings Temptress from 10th place. Ollie Townend and ODT Sonas Rovatio, 7th, are looking to wipe out last year’s memory of that fall and subsequent elimination with his second mount due to injuries. Clayton Fredericks would love a second watch; ditto, William Fox-Pitt. Sinead Halpin and Hannah Sue Burnett would love their first, ditto Jessica Phoenix (CAN) and Boyd Martin. Kim Severson started a collection with the great Winsome Adante that she would love to continue with “Paddy” and Mary King sits in the catbird seat.
Who will leave up the rails?
That answer and more late this afternoon!