Michael Pollard and Mensa lead the way after the first morning of dressage, reports Jenni Autry.
Top: Michael Pollard and Mensa. Photo by Jenni Autry.
Michael Pollard and Mensa put in the consistent test we’ve come to expect from them to take the provisional lead at the lunch break here on the first day of dressage at Rolex. Their score of 49.5 just puts them in front of early morning leaders Will Faudree and Pawlow, who dropped to second place on their score of 49.8. Marilyn Little and RF Demeter round out the top three in the early going on their score of 51.3. While Michael’s test was lovely sans a few bobbles in the changes, we’re still waiting to be wowed here at Rolex. Looking ahead to the rest of the day, we have some big names still to go who could throw down with an impressive performance.
Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville were first to lead off in the second group, and the test was much like what we saw from them at Carolina International, where Tate didn’t have his usual energy and presence. The score of 51.7 puts them in fifth place, which is certainly within striking distance, but not where Sinead hoped to be going into cross country. We also saw Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda also went in this group, and they scored 55.0 to sit in sixth place in the early going. The first half of the test was really lovely. They lost a bit of that rhythm and fluidity in the second half, which affected some of their marks in the final movements, but this was still a good showing.
Sharon White and Rafferty’s Rules (55.5) also put in a more consistent performance toward the beginning of the test, with their communication seeming a touch out of sync toward the end, which impacted the changes. But it’s so exciting to have Reggie back competing at this level, and it’s a huge achievement just for him to be here. Similarly, Madison Park is writing his own comeback story here at Rolex, and while the test was more tense then I’m sure Kyle would have liked, it’s so meaningful to have Parker back competing at a four-star again. That said, I do think the score was a bit harsh, but Kitty Cat is probably still thrilled to have Parker back in action.
Zatopek B made his Rolex debut in this group with Jon Holling, and this is a horse that will only continue to get better as he gets more mileage at the level. The tension impacted their score (64.2), but there were definitely some lovely moments. Poor Erin Sylvester didn’t have the test she had hoped for with No Boundaries. Things started out beautifully with Bucky looking fantastic, but he broke in the extended trot, and it took her awhile to bring him back. That’s never the impression you want to make toward the start of the test, and the score (68.7) suffered as a result.
I didn’t have time during the quick 20-minute morning break to bring you comments on all the rides, so here’s a few notes as I catch up. Bellaney Rock made a very respectable debut at this level for Team Canada with Selena O’Hanlon, who rode him conservatively for a score of 57.0, which she’s probably pretty happy with. Buck Davidson and Park Trader were first to go this morning, and while they struggled in the changes for a score of 57.8, this was still a good performance for Kobe. Copycat Chloe has been very wound up in dressage all season, and all things considered I thought she behaved pretty well today for a score of 64.0.
I’ll continue to update my morning update and this lunch update with photos, so keep checking back. The action starts back again in about an hour with Emily Beshear and Here’s To You leading off the third group of the day at 1:30 p.m. Be sure to follow along with John’s open thread here and hop on the live blog, where John, AJ and Leslie are providing commentary. And you never know who will swing by here at Rolex to offer their own analysis, so you don’t want to miss it. Stay tuned for much more from Rolex. Go Eventing.
For complete coverage of this year’s Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, keep it tuned to Eventing Nation.