|William Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain clear the final fence in the stadium phase of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Photo: Leslie Potter|
Horse Illustrated Senior Associate editor Holly Werner shares each day’s results and scenery from the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, Ky.
As the wind picked up speed at the Kentucky Horse Park’s outdoor stadium and an ominous black rain cloud inched closer, the competition heated up. Going in reverse order of standings, the crowd eagerly awaited jumping rounds from those in contention for top placings. Kim Severson unfortunately dropped from 2nd to 24th with six rails down aboard Tipperary Liadhnan. Mandiba and Karen O’Connor had two rails to move from 6th to 7th. Phillip Dutton and The Foreman also had two rails, moving from 5th to 6th.
Canadian Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch and Port Authority jumped clear to move from 9th to 5th; also jumping clear were Boyd Martin (who now rides for the USA) and Neville Bardos, who moved up from 8th to 4th.
Holder had just one rail to secure her third-place check. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the top after cross-country here at Rolex [before in 2008], but have had disappointment in the show jumping,” said Holder. “You have to put those things aside and jump fences one at a time as well as you can, and the results will be what the results will be. That’s what I tried to do.”
Dutton found himself as the Rolex reserve champion for the sixth time this year, although he did out show-jump Holder to win his first Rolex championship in 2008. It was a twist of fate that Woodburn ended up competing at Rolex at all, since he was originally scheduled to compete at Badminton next week. The European air travel cancellations due to the volcano eruption in Iceland changed those plans, however. “I’m pleased I made the decision to get him here and that the organizers let me get in at the last minute,” said Dutton. “Out of the whole weekend, I was very pleased with [Woodburn] today. He and I have struggled [in show jumping]. The dressage is getting better, and he was more relaxed on the cross-country. Hopefully he’ll win one of these one day. I really believe in him.” Ever his own biggest critic, Dutton added, “I was hoping to have a little better dressage.”
Though Fox-Pitt has continually managed the hype machine this week by warning everyone that Cool Mountain was still green and only competing in his first four-star, the horse continued to exceed everyone’s expectations by putting on the best dressage test of the competition, jumping double-clear on cross-country and keeping all the rails up in show jumping. “You never really know what’s going to happen,” said Fox-Pitt. “I’ve been very surprised and impressed by my horse all week. He’s been a real trier and done nothing wrong. He’s come out of this competition a better horse, getting a fantastic, educational cross-country course–hopefully a step up to the [Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games] in the autumn. Woodburn and Courageous Comet were magical to watch on cross-country, so to [win] is a real thrill.” And in case you’re wondering, Fox-Pitt revealed he is six-foot-five–“too tall to be an eventer!”
Though this is his first Rolex win, it was Fox-Pitt’s sixth time contesting Rolex. “You don’t dare hope that it might happen,” he said of the victory. “You hope for the best, but it’s very important to expect the worst. I came here hoping for a top-10 placing. You suddenly find yourself out there and lose sight of reality … I felt pretty sick, but when I went in, I had a fence in hand. My chap tries to jump the jumps–he always tries his heart out. If he’d had one or two down it would be unlucky.”
Other trophies presented during the awards ceremony included the best-conditioned award, which was presented to Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch for Port Authority. Will Faudree’s mount won for best impression during the horse inspections (best groomed), which went to Pawlow’s groom.
After a long four days at the Kentucky Horse Park (five if you include the first horse inspection on Wednesday), many competitors and spectators are now hitting the road, tired and (mostly) contented. The only serious injury sustained was to Oliver Townend, who unfortunately was not able to ride for the Rolex Grand Slam on Sunday with ODT Master Rose, who stood in 7th place after cross-country. According to Townend’s Facebook page, which was updated at noon on Sunday, “Oliver has now left hospital. He says ‘I feel a bit bashed and bruised but my spirits are good.’ Oliver will hopefully be returning to the UK shortly.” His two Badminton four-star mounts entered for this coming week, Golden Hue and Carousel Quest, were withdrawn according to the Badminton website as of 4/25/10. We all wish him the best as he recovers and heads home.
Below are the final Rolex top-10 standings. Take note of the exceptional performance by the Canadians, whose national eventing team will surely be one to watch this fall at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games:
1st–William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Cool Mountain
2nd–Phillip Dutton (USA) and Woodburn
3rd–Becky Holder (USA) and Courageous Comet
4th–Boyd Martin (USA) and Neville Bardos
5th–Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch (CAN) and Port Authority
6th–Phillip Dutton (USA) and The Foreman
7th–Karen O’Connor (USA) and Mandiba
8th–Selena O’Hanlon (CAN) and Colombo
9th–Hawley Bennett-Awad (CAN) and Gin & Juice
10th–Michele Mueller (CAN) and Amistad