What a cross country day at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event! As they have been throughout the event, Eventing Nation brings us the latest.
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As he cleared the final fence with Sam, Michael sat back and pumped his fist in the air in victory, which slowed him just enough to pick up 1 time penalty. That pesky second over the time gave him .4 time penalties to sit in second place on 36.7, with Tim and Wesko taking the lead on their dressage score of 36.6.
Both Tim and Michael delivered masterful cross country rides today and deserve to be sitting one-two. Tim and Wesko did have the advantage of taking a breather during a lengthy hold on course, whereas Michael and Sam were one of the final pairs to go after the footing had deteriorated.
Michael has another horse at the top of the leaderboard in fischerRocana FST, who jumped one of the six double clear rounds early this morning to stay on her dressage score of 39.3, which puts them in third place. Last year’s winner’s William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero jumped clear with 8.6 time to drop one spot to fourth place.
Bill Levett and Improvise delivered a scrappy double clear to round out the top five on 48.6, followed by Boyd Martin and Master Frisky. They’re our top placed Americans after cross country in sixth place on a score of 48.6 after jumping clear with 1.6 time penalties in the horse’s first four-star.
The final minutes of cross country proved to be a lesson on cross country riding, with Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton sharing the course as the last riders to go. Phillip delivered his third clear round of the day aboard Mighty Nice, accumulating 3.2 time penalties to move up to seventh place on 50.4.
Will Coleman and OBOS O’Reilly jumped clear and closest to the optimum time in the horse’s first four-star to take home a two-year lease on a 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport (or rather, his wife, Katie, won the lease). That cracking double clear round moved them all the way from 31st up to eighth place on 52.6.
Sitting in ninth are Phillip and Fernhill Cubalawn — one of four first-time CCI4* horses in the top 10 — after jumping clear with 3.2 time penalties, followed by Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights, our highest-placed Americans after dressage. Colleen jumped double clear as the first rider out early in the day aboard Shiraz and then returned for another clear with CR, picking up 12 time penalties to sit in 10th on 54.3.
Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless are the highest placed Rolex Rookies after cross country, jumping a confident, clear round with 7.2 time penalties to move up to 12th place. Maya Black and Doesn’t Play Fair, Bunnie Sexton and Rise Against, and Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek also jumped clear in their four-star debut.
In addition to the pairs already named, James Alliston and Parker also jumped clear to win EN’s unofficial Biggest Mover Award. That effort moved them from 59th all the way up to 17th place on their dressage score of 64.6. That should give you an idea of just how influential cross country proved to be on a very wet day.
Chinch’s hat is off to course designer Derek di Grazia, who designed a four-star track that proved to be both challenging yet safe for horses and riders. We saw very few accidents, and we have confirmed (thanks to the fabulous Rolex press team!) that all horses and riders are uninjured sans bumps and bruises.
Here’s the breakdown of the field: Six riders jumped double clear, 27 jumped clear with time penalties, 10 picked up at last 20 jumping penalties, 10 retired on course, 15 were eliminated, four picked up 11 penalties for breaking a frangible pin, and two withdrew before cross country.
It was a tough day for North America, as some of our top riders didn’t have they day they hoped for. Lauren Kieffer and Veronica, Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM, and Marilyn Little and RF Demeter all retired on course. Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High signaled she was retiring but later showed up on the scores as eliminated. Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda and Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch both picked up 20. Jessie Phoenix fell from A Little Romance.
You can see the fence report at this link. Scores are not yet final, as officials are busy awarding 11 frangible penalties for broken frangible pins — or taking them away in the case of Francis Whittington, who demolished the corner at the Land Rover Hollow and seems to have officials scratching their heads as to how to handle that.
We’ll have more on how the new 11 penalty frangible rule played out today shortly, as well as quotes from the press conference, so check back soon. More than 31,000 people attended cross country day today here in Lexington. Thank you to the volunteers and organizers who made this great day possible.
Click here to see John’s open thread from the first half of cross country and here to see the second open thread of the final half. There are a number of GIFs capturing the action to hold you over until tomorrow, when video on demand will be available courtesy of USEF Network.