Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event
By Kate Green
All photos by Brenda Black
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Michael Jung (GER) can add victory at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA), third leg of the FEI Classics™ 2014/2015, to his ever growing list of major accolades. Riding the courageous little mare FisherRocana FST, he was the only rider to finish on his Dressage score.
The competition went right to the wire in front of a packed crowd enjoying some welcome sunshine in the Kentucky Horse Park. Although Jung hit two fences on La Biosthetique Sam FBW, his Cross Country runner-up, his earlier clear round on Rocana, third at that stage, left overnight leader Tim Price (NZL) on Wesko no leeway for error.
Wesko, a horse Price found in a Jumping yard, looked superb, but the Dutch-bred gelding just caught the upright at fence 10 and so Price had to settle for second place behind Jung and Rocana.
Jung also finished third on Sam, ahead of last year’s winners William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Bay My Hero, fourth, who jumped clear to rousing applause.
Phillip Dutton (USA) had to withdraw Mighty Nice, seventh after Cross Country, but a clear round on Fernhill Cubalawn elevated him four places to fifth. Dutton was also ninth on Fernhill Fugitive.
Boyd Martin (USA) was seventh on Master Frisky, having dropped a place with eight faults, and Britain’s Nicola Wilson on the Irish-bred mare Annie Clover moved up three places to eighth with a penalty-free round.
The sole Australian in the field, Bill Levett, slipped five places to 10th on Improvise with an unfortunate 12 faults. There were nine clear rounds from the 40 finishers.
Jung received a great reception from the American audience who clearly realized they had seen a great horseman at work. “I have nice memories of Kentucky from 2010 [when he won the world title]. The people are very friendly and I’m happy that there are so many spectators. Thank you for everything!”
1 Michael Jung/FisherRocana FST (GER) 39.3 + 0 + 0 = 39.3
2 Tim Price/Wesko (NZL) 36.3 + 0 + 4 = 40.3
3 Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER) 36.3 + 0.4 + 8 = 44.7
4 William Fox-Pitt/Bay My Hero (GBR) 38.5 + 8.4 + 0 = 46.9
5 Phillip Dutton/Fernhill Cubalawn (USA) 50.9 + 3.2 + 4 = 54.1
6 Will Coleman/Obos O’Reilly (USA) 52.6 + 0 + 4 = 56.6
7 Boyd Martin/Master Frisky (USA) 47.0 + 1.6 + 8 = 56.6
8 Nicola Wilson/Annie Clover (GBR) 45.6 + 11.2 + 0 = 56.8
9 Phillip Dutton/Fernhill Fugitive (USA) 47.3 + 12 + 0 = 59.3
10 Bill Levett/Improvise (AUS) 48.6 + 0 + 12 = 60.6
By Marty Bauman, Press Chief
Lexington, Ky., April 25, 2015-The 0.4 time faults that result from being 1 second slow is the difference between Tim Price of New Zealand, riding Wesko (36.3), and Michael Jung of Germany, riding on La Biosthetique Sam FBW (36.7), in the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover. Jung is also third on Fischerrocana FST (39.3).
Jung, the 2010 World Champion and 2012 Olympic Champion on Sam, began the day by guiding Fischerrocana to a faultless round. Then Price did the same with Wesko, despite being held on course because a rider ahead of him had fallen. And then, just before the end of the day, Jung galloped through the finish 1 second slow with Sam. He'd galloped aggressively around the course, and he couldn't say where he'd fallen just behind the optimum time of 11:06.
Jung didn't blame his tardiness on the footing, which became increasingly slippery and deep as rain fell throughout the day. “OK, yes, I’m a little bit sad about the 1 second, but the ground was not very bad, not very deep. Sam started well and jumped clear. The ground was very well prepared, and he jumped and galloped well,” he said.
Price, 36, said he’d been worried about the weather since Friday afternoon. “I opened the curtains this morning and gingerly looked out,” he admitted. “It was always going to be a track of riding well and using your intuition all the way around. I just went out and trusted my horse and tried to give him a good trip between the fences. I had a great round, really.”
But he wasn't completely sure he’d finished under the optimum time until after he’d dismounted, because the long hold on course had confounded his timing. “I wished I stayed at school a little longer to do those calculations,” he said with a smile. “I just tried to use the break to my advantage. It was a little longer than was beneficial, but I had to make do with what I had and get on with the job.”
On Friday afternoon, the ground jury (Angela Tucker, Wayne Quarles and Ernst Topp) and technical delegate Tom Ryckewaert met with Lee Carter and Vanessa Coleman of Equestrian Events Inc. to discuss schedule changes in anticipation of the strong thunderstorms forecast for Saturday. They decided to move up the start time by 15 minutes and to shorten the interval between horses from 5 minutes to 3 minutes, reducing the length of the competition day by two hours and 20 minutes. They hoped to conclude the competition before heavy thunderstorms struck the Lexington area.
That plan succeeded, although rain fell throughout the day, with occasional hard showers. Riders said that although the ground was slippery or deep in places, the footing remained firm before and after the jumps. And at no time was the competition halted because of thunderstorms or other severe weather.
All told, 71 horses started, with 46 of them finishing. Some 31 jumped clear, with six of them also finishing with no time faults. Another 15 finished with jumping penalties. Some 15 horses were eliminated, and 10 were retired.
By Marty Bauman, Press Chief
Lexington, Ky., April 24, 2015- Tim Price of New Zealand and Michael Jung of Germany were the co-leaders after the dressage phase of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover. Price rode Wesko to a score of 36.3 just after 10:00 a.m., and then Jung-who won Thursday's session on Fischerrocana FST-rode La Biosthetique Sam FBW to the same score just before 4:00 p.m.
Defending champions William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero scored 38.5 penalties to place third, starting two horses before Jung and Sam. Jung is now fourth on Fischerrocana FST (39.3).
American riders were in a tight race for the next five places: Colleen Rutledge on Covert Rights was fifth (42.3); Mackenna Shea on Landioso was sixth (43.7); Laine Ashker on Anthony Patch was seventh (44.2); Lauren Kieffer on Veronica was eighth (44.3); and Marilyn Little on RF Demeter was ninth (44.6).
“I didn't really single out Michael as the person to beat, but it was a very strong field, so the challenge was quite serious. I came here to do what I did today,” said Price. In 2014 Price and Wesko won the Luhmuhlen CCI4* in Germany.
He said that preparation was the key to his performance on Wesko, a 12-year-old Dutch-bred gelding. “In the last few days, I was working him in a way that would allow me to use the atmosphere in the ring today. He's relatively inexperienced, and sometimes that can be a disruption, but the way he's been the last few days, I thought it could work,” he said.
Jung, 32, said that Sam, 15-winner of the gold medal at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park and of the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics-is a better mover and made a better presentation than Fischerrocana, 10. “But my feeling was not really good because he was very nervous-you could see it on the halt, rein-back, canter sequence. But I was happy with everything else with him.”
Next, the riders’ attention was focused on Saturday’s cross-country course, designed for the fifth year by Derek di Grazia of Carmel, Calif. Di Grazia has considerably altered the track from previous years and presented the riders with new challenges at almost every turn of the 29-fence course, with an optimum time of 11:14. Fox-Pitt, who has won Rolex Kentucky three times, called it "a strong course," but he said that he's not at all sure how the course will ride this time.
“I think it will be very interesting. In the past you've had a pretty good idea of how it will ride around the park, and we don't have that this year,” he said. “Even without the rain that they're forecasting, the ground is quite soft, and there are combinations that require quite a lot of jumping. It will be very, very tiring.”
Jung was the eighth starter on Fischerrocana and the fifth-from-last starter on Sam. He said he didn't know how the rain would affect his tactics on the course. “It depends on the weather. If we have a little bit of rain, the footing will be perfect. If it rains a lot-well, we’ll see,” he said.
Price couldn’t speculate on how the weather and the footing would affect his tactics either. “Essentially you have to make your decisions on the fly,” he said. “I think the ground has had enough time to recover from the rains they’ve already had here. It looks like it could withstand a fair bit of rain before it impacts the going.”
Price believes that di Grazia built an exceptional four-star test. “I think it's a great course-I love it, and I'm looking forward to riding it. Derek prepares us early, and then the questions come on,” he said.
Zara Phillips of Great Britain, individual gold-medal winner at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, withdrew her horse High Kingdom just before she was due to enter the dressage ring on Friday. High Kingdom, said British team chef d'equipe Yogi Breisner, had kicked out and cut his right-hind leg while being saddled prior to warm-up. He said they hoped that it wouldn't affect his performance, but as he warmed up they could see that “the horse was not 100 percent” and withdrew him.
Photos: The Mid-South Horse Review is very pleased to present photos of the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day by Brenda Black.
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