Lexington, Kentucky, USA — April 29, 2023 — It’s been 15 years since an American has taken home the top prize in the CCI5*-L at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™, but after a shake-up on cross-country day, the USA’s Tamie Smith and Mai Baum are poised to do just that. The 17-year-old Rheinlander gelding owned by the Ahearn family jumped double-clear on Saturday to take over the top spot with a score of 24.2 in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 34,298.
“It was definitely a fight to make that time,” Smith said after her ride, which also maintains her lead in the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS Equestrian. “It was a big effort out of the last water — that got a little hairy for me. I talked to him and said, ‘Come on, buddy, you can do it.’ Right when I thought he was tired, he pushed and kept fighting. I think I was more tired than him. There’s not a lot of Thoroughbred in there, but he’s got a heart the size of Kentucky, that’s for sure.”
Great Britain’s Tom McEwen (GBR) added 5.2 time penalties to his score aboard JL Dublin, but at the end of the day, he remained in second place on 27.8. Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) is third on Miks Master C with 28.5, after adding 1.6 time penalties to her dressage score.
“To be honest, I just stuck to the plan,” McEwen said of his round on the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. Lambert and Mrs. D. Johnston.
“I rode him how he felt underneath me,” McEwen continued. “The course was magnificent and rode perfectly. There’s always a few things you’d change, that’s riding, but I was delighted with ‘Dubs.’ I’ve had a very short partnership with him, so his performance shows what a partnership (former rider Nicola Wilson) had with him. I’ve only done six events with him, and I’ve never had a test of him here at the 5* level. It’s a shame to have a few time penalties, but at the same time, the plan was to bring him home safely and have a good result.”
“With ‘Mickey,’ I had a plan to try and make the time because he is a spectacular horse and great galloper,” Halliday-Sharp said of the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Ocala Horse Properties and Deborah Palmer. “I planned to go out of the start box and see how he was tackling the course. He got a little strong at the end, and I think that’s where the 1.6 (time penalties) crept in, but for his first 5* I couldn’t ask for more. He’s a spectacular athlete, and I’m lucky to ride him.”
Of the 38 horses set to start Saturday’s cross-country test, only six managed to come home double-clear. In addition to Smith, Germany’s Sandra Auffarth and Viamant Du Matz (4th/30.4), USA’s Will Coleman and Off The Record (5th/31.2), France’s Maxime Livio and Carouzo Bois Marotin (7th/35.5), Great Britain’s David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed (8th/35.6), and USA’s Emily Hamel and Corvett (11th/38.7) all made it home inside the time.
Overnight leader and reigning World Champion Yasmin Ingham (GBR) and Banzai du Loir came to grief early with a runout at 6C, the first narrow brush out of the Park Question ditch combination. She finished with 20 jumping and 20 time penalties. Coleman’s formerly fourth-placed mount, the phenom Chin Tonic, jumped clear but appeared to tire on course, coming home with 14 time penalties to drop to 11th overnight.
Now, everyone’s attention turns to taking care of the horses for Sunday’s show jumping phase. When asked about their evening recovery, the leading riders shared similar plans.
“We’re going to grab a beer, I think,” McEwen joked. “But really, Dubs came home spectacularly, not a nick on him, and he’s a great jumper. We’ll do our best to put pressure on Tamie for tomorrow. A happy, healthy, fit horse for the next day is the best you can hope for, really.”
“A lot of praying,” Smith said with a laugh. “I mean, he’s already back at the barn and felt good coming through the finish. You hope they feel good in their bodies, especially when they’re 17, but he’s a great horse and we’re taking care of him. We have no plans but to do what we do and hope the world is helping us get over the jumps clean tomorrow.”
In the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge, Team USA (Tamie Smith/Mai Baum, Will Coleman/Chin Tonic, Boyd Martin/Tsetserleg TSF, and Phillip Dutton/Z) moved into the top spot with a score of 95.5. The combined team of Germany, France and Canada (Sandra Auffarth/Viamant Du Matz, Alina Dibowski/Barbados 26, Maxime Livio/Carouzo Bois Marotin, and Jessica Phoenix/Wabbit) stands second with 107.3. Team Great Britain (Yasmin Ingham/Banzai Du Loir, Tom McEwen/JL Dublin, Kristy Chabert/Classic VI, and David Doel/Galileo Nieuwmoed) stands third on 125.5.
In the Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S, speed was the name of the game, with only three double-clear rounds from the 49 starters. Canada’s Karl Slezak (CAN) vaulted from seventh place to the top of the leaderboard aboard Hot Bobo with one of those double-clear rounds to go into the final phase with a score of 29.3. Smith on Solaguayre California moved up one place into second, despite adding 2.4 time to her score to stand on 30.0. She is narrowly ahead of the now third-place pair of Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool, who added 5.6 time penalties to finish the second phase with a score of 31.1.
Slezak was thrilled with “Bobo” at her first appearance on a big stage. “My horse has had some issues in the past as a young horse being green and spooky on cross country,” he said. “This is the first time she’s ever seen a crowd, and I was unsure how she’d handle it until the warmup. In the warmup, she was spot-on, so I felt very confident going out of the start box.”
“California came out this year and understands her job now,” Smith said of the 12-year-old Argentinian-bred mare owned by Julianne Guariglia. “It’s been an exciting journey with her. She used to balloon up into water and spook at coffins, but she answered all the questions easily today.”
Halliday-Sharp’s other horse, overnight leader Cooley Nutcracker, triggered the frangible pin on the MIM Table (Fence 18), which added 11 points to her score. With that and 4.8 time penalties, the pair dropped to 15th.
“I was thrilled with both of my horses,” Halliday-Sharp said. “I was disappointed to have a frangible pin at the table (with Nutcracker); it was a real shame as he barely touched it behind. He gave me a beautiful round for a young horse. I’m thrilled with him, and in my mind, he’s done me proud.
“(Cooley Be Cool) was a good boy,” she continued about the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Ocala Horse Properties and The Monster Syndicate. “He’s had less fitness than some, so I wasn’t able to be as quick as I wanted, but he was exceptional. It felt easy, so it was nice to run him around.”
Besides Slezak, the other double-clear 4* rounds belonged to Phillip Dutton and his new mount Azure (6th/35.4) and Leah Lang-Glusic and AP Prime (10th/37.7).
Slezak has owned the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare since he bought her at a sale as a 4-year-old. Originally intended as a sale horse, the mare’s initial disdain for cross-country left her in Slezak’s barn until she stepped up in a way that made him want to keep her.
“She was always great on the flat, and a great show jumper,” Slezak said. “Then you’d cross-country school her, and she’d act like never seen a cross-country fence before, so nobody wanted to buy her. But it’s worked out for me. Now the joke in the barn is that when the working students go in the stall, she pins her ears, but when I go in, she’s looking for treats and love.”
And for those wondering, a “Hot Bobo” is an Irish phrase for a nightcap you give to children to help them sleep. The mare came with name, and Slezak has kept it.
Following Sunday’s horse inspection presented by Hagyard Pharmacy, competitors in both the 4* and 5* will return to the Rolex Stadium for their show jumping tests, starting with the 4* entries in the morning.
Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is a thrilling multi-day competition featuring Olympic-level riders and horses in what can best be described as an equestrian triathlon. Horse and rider pairs compete in three phases of the competition – Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping – for $375,000 in prize money to those competing at the CCI5*-L level. LRK3DE is the largest and longest-running Five Star event in the Americas, and as the United States’ premier event, it also serves as the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS Equestrian for the U.S. athletes. It also includes the Dubarry Nations Team Challenge. Rolex is the Official Timepiece and Event Partner.
Source: Press Release from Classic Communications for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event
Photos: © Red Bay Group
Categories: Jumper News USA