Mary King of Great Britain in First and Second After Rolex Cross-Country

Mary King and Fernhill Urco
Mary King and Fernhill Urco are in second place behind King’s other mount, King’s Temptress. Photo: Leslie Potter

The mucky footing on the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country course following weeks of historic rainfall was much improved by Saturday morning after two dry and breezy days. The coffin complex was no longer underwater, and only a few inches remained in the sunken road. Early riders had the advantage of cooler temperatures and more pristine footing. However, there were only seven (out of 21) rounds before the lunch break without jumping penalties, two of them double-clear (no jumping and no time penalties). Mary King on Kings Temptress and Hannah Sue Burnett aboard St. Barths claimed that distinction.

After the lunch break, eight of 17 horses jumped clear, but only Jessica Phoenix and Exponential managed to go double-clear. When cross-country was complete, Mary King of Great Britain had moved up from second and fourth place after dressage to claim the top two spots with her homebred mare, Kings Temptress, in first place, and her gray gelding Fernhill Urco in second. Previous Rolex winner Clayton Fredericks of Australia moved from tenth to third with the mare Be My Guest, and Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville became the highest-placed American pair going into show jumping in fourth place.

Mary King and King’s Temptress

There were several falls on course, but all of the horses came out in good shape. The only rider who took a trip to the hospital was Kristi Nunnink, who fell from R-Star at the first element of the double corners. She is being treated for an arm injury, but did not lose consciousness after the fall. Dressage leader Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister had a fall late on the cross-country course, but both walked away unhurt. In third place after dressage, Allison Springer and Arthur had an unfortunate fall at the third-to-last fence, but were also unscathed.

When asked for her thoughts on claiming the top two spots going into show jumping, King said she was trying not to think about Sunday, but reflected happily on Saturday. “On Kings Temptress, I was thinking how fantastic the ground felt. I noticed with [Fernhill Urco] that it was heavier, but the mare was very good and felt easy making the time. [Fernhill Urco] came to the first water and had a big shock–he was a bit green there, but then he improved as he went ‘round. He did get tired, but not as tired as I thought.”

Mary King and Fernhill Urco

Although Mary King doesn’t usually breed her own horses (Fernhill Urco was purchased for her after already competing at the three-star level), Kings Temptress was the result of a pasture mishap with one of Mary’s most talented young horses. “Her dam competed at the novice level and won as a 5-year-old on a score of 11, which is kind of unheard of; sadly on her winter holiday, she struck her front tendon and slashed it open. So I looked for a fashionable sire to breed her to [once she had recovered]; I was keen to stick to a Thoroughbred, and the mare was mostly Thoroughbred with a bit of Anglo-Arab.”

For Clayton Fredericks, going later in the day was a bit of a drawback. “At the end, the course did take its toll, especially since it was the hotter part of the day. But I always feel that if you walk a course and think you should get a good result, but it ends up causing problems evenly spread throughout the whole course, then it’s a good one.” This is high praise for course designer Derek di Grazia, who took the reins for the first time this year after working under famed Rolex course designer Michael Etherington-Smith for several years.

Clayton Fredericks and Be My Guest

Although international riders thoroughly dominated the top placings, Sinead Halpin, who is somewhat new to top-level competition, had a good day aboard Manoir de Carneville, moving her from eighth after dressage to fourth after cross-country. “I thought the course really suited my horse when I walked it. He lands a bit stalled, which was good in the short combinations like the sunken road. My goal was to have three good phases; he’s not confirmed enough to have a winning dressage test, but he was accurate. I wanted to go clean [in cross-country] and move up the leaderboard.” Mission accomplished.

Show jumping will begin on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in reverse order of standing.

Current Standings:

  1. Mary King (GBR), Kings Temptress, 47.7
  2. Mark King (GBR), Fernhill Urco, 49.7
  3. Clayton Fredericks (AUS), Be My Guest, 52.6
  4. Sinead Halpin (USA), Manoir de Carneville, 53.1
  5. Hannah Sue Burnett (USA), St. Barths, 53.3
  6. William Fox-Pitt (GBR), Neuf des Coeurs, 53.6
  7. Oliver Townend (GBR), ODT Sonas Rovatio, 58.2
  8. Jessica Phoenix (CAN), Exponential, 60.0
  9. Boyd Martin (USA), Remington XXV, 61.4
  10. Kim Severson (USA), Tipperary Liadhnan, 62.5

For complete results and show jumping order, go to

More Rolex Coverage
Tiana Coudray takes the lead at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event
Allison Springer is in the lead after day one of dressage
45 horses set to start in the 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event


  1. she is the queen of eventing in my opinion! all though horse racing is my fav sport eventing never fails to excite me! eventing is a beautiful sport theres nothing i like more then seeing a happy horse run and do what he or she loves!

  2. this is very exciting cause i saw her at the kentucky horse park back in october i hope she wins she totally deserves this!

  3. Mary is superb.Win or lose,she takes it in her stride. This 1@2 placing shows she is still one of the worlds greatest riders.


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