Cloudy gray skies and sprinkles of rain dotted the landscape at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., for cross-country day at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Hailed by fans as the “best weekend all year”—and the best day of the best weekend—34,298 people streamed through the gates to catch a glimpse of the amazing equine athletes and their riders.
After an unfortunate runout at the skinny C element on the Park Question (jump 6), overnight leader Yasmin Ingham of Great Britain was knocked out of contention for a top finish.
West Coast rider Tamra Smith and her long-time partner Mai Baum ran double-clear on cross-country, moving from 3rd place up to 1st, poised to try to become the first American winner of the event since Phillip Dutton in 2008—assuming she has a near-perfect stadium jumping round tomorrow.
“That horse is such a fighter,” said Smith after her ride. “These are what dreams are made of. I was a bit disappointed after the dressage scores because I wanted to bring it home.” (Mai Baum is notoriously excellent in the dressage phase.) Well, it looks like she still just might.
Tamra Smith & Mai Baum (USA) take the lead on cross-country day at Kentucky Land Rover. Photo by Mary CageTamra Smith & Mai-Baum (USA). Photo by Mary CageTamra Smith & Mai Baum (USA). Photo by Sarah Miller/MacMillan PhotographyTamra Smith & Mai Baum (USA). Photo by Sarah Miller/MacMillan PhotographyTamra Smith & Mai Baum (USA). Photo by Sarah Miller/MacMillan Photography
Tom McEwan of Great Britain remained in 2nd place after adding 5.2 time penalties to his dressage score.
“The course was magnificent, it presents beautifully,” he said. “We had no runs in Britain this year [due to record rains], but it was a shame to have a few time penalties.”
Tom McEwen & JL Dublin (GBR). Photo by Sarah E. Miller/Mac Millan PhotographyTom McEwen & JL Dublin (GBR). Photo by Sarah E. Miller/Mac Millan PhotographyTom McEwen & JL Dublin (GBR). Photo by Mary Cage
Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C had just 1.6 time penalties, moving them from 5th to 3rd.
“I had a plan to try to make the time with him; I planned to go out of box and see how he was tackling the course,” she said after her ride. “He got strong toward the end, and that’s where the couple of time faults came in.”
Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp & Miks Master C (USA). Photo by Mary CageElisabeth Halliday-Sharp & Miks Master C (USA). Photo by Allen MacMillanElisabeth Halliday-Sharp & Miks Master C (USA). Photo by Allen MacMillan
The leaderboard in the 4* experienced an even bigger shake-up on cross-country day at Land Rover Kentucky. Karl Slezak of Canada riding Hot Bobo jumped from 7th place after dressage to 1st going into the final phase.
“My horse has had some issues in the past; she was really spooky as a young horse,” he said after his ride. “In the warmup she was spot on, so I just kind of went for it.”
Slezak told a funny story about how he bought the mare at a sale in Ireland as a resale horse when she was 4, but nobody wanted to buy her. “Cross-country schooling, she acted like she’d never seen a cross-country jump in her life!”
Confirming the mare stereotype, Slezak says she will pin her ears whenever his working students go in the stall, “but she comes to me for treats and love when I go in.”
Karl Slezak & Hot Bobo (CAN). Photo by Allen MacMillan/MacMillan PhotographyKarl Slezak & Hot Bobo (CAN). Photo by Mary Cage
Tamra Smith and Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp are currently in the top 3 in this division as well. It’s looking like a good year for the USA!
Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp & Cooley-Be-Cool (USA). Photo by Mary CageLiz Halliday-Sharp & Cooley Be Cool (USA). Photo by Allen MacMillan/MacMillan PhotographyTamra Smith & Solaguayre California (USA). Photo by Allen MacMillan/MacMillan PhotographyTamra Smith & Solaguayre California (USA). Photo by Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography
Stay tuned on Sunday for stadium jumping to see who takes home the $123,000 first-place check in the CCI5*; the winning rider also receives a 12-month lease on a Land Rover Defender.
Follow all our coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event here.
1. Tamra Smith and Mai Baum (24.2)2. Tom McEwen (GBR) and JL Dublin (27.8)3. Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C (28.5)4. Sandra Auffarth (GER) and Viamant du Matz (30.4)5. William Coleman and Off the Record (31.2)6. Phillip Dutton and Z (32.3)7. Maxime Livio (FRA) and Carouzo Bois Marotin (35.5)8. David Doel (GBR) and Galileo Nieuwmoed (35.6)9. Doug Payne and Quantam Leap (37.3)10. Jennie Saville and FE Lifestyle (38.1)
1. Karl Slezak (CAN) and Hot Bobo (29.3)2. Tamra Smith and Solaguayre California (30.0)3. Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool (31.1)4. Mia Farley and Phelps (33.0)5. Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire (34.9)6. Phillip Dutton and Azure (35.4)7. Hayley Frielick (NZL) and Dunedin Black Watch (36.0)8. Dan Kreitl and Carmango (36.2)9. Hannah Sue Hollberg and Capitol Him (37.2)10. Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime (37.7)
This article about cross-country day at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is a web exclusive for Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!
Holly Caccamise has been with Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines since 2007, and in 2019, she became Editor in Chief of both titles. Caccamise has a master's degree in Animal Science with a specialization in equine nutrition and exercise physiology. She has also worked as a racing magazine ad copywriter and top-level show groom.
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