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It’s Townend For A Second Year


Article & photos by Grace Netter

Three-time Kentucky Three-Day Event winner Michael Jung (GER) had a run the money this year, as Oliver Townend (GBR) won the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event for the second year in a row. With Jung missing this year, there was no chance at a much-desired rematch, and Townend was on a mission for a repeat win. This is the first year that the new FEI star system was in place, which now classifies the previous CCI4* Kentucky Three-Day Event as a CCI5*-L, or Long event.

Leading from start to finish, Oliver Townend and his equine partner, Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class, showed they still have the right stuff to win for a second consecutive year. While he did not finish on just his dressage score of 24.1, he only added 1.2 time penalties on cross-country to finish on a score of 25.3. This is 3.4 penalties better than his last year’s score of 28.7. Out of the $400,000 top-20 prize, Townend was awarded $130,000 and a 12-month lease on a Land Rover Discovery. Unlike last year, Townend did not win at Burghley Horse Trials, so he is out of contention for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. However, he will still be headed to Badminton, May 1-5, 2019, to improve upon his second place finish last year (to winner Jonelle Price and Classic Moet).

The USA was so close to an elusive victory, with heartthrob Boyd Martin coming in second place on his dressage score of 27.9. Riding Christine Turner’s Tsetserleg, a 12-year-old Trakehner gelding, he was awarded $62,000 and the title of USEF CCI5* National Champion – the highest placing American rider.

Tim Price (NZL) finished in third place on his British Sport Horse Xavier Faer, moving up from fifth to third after a double clear cross country ride and a no fault stadium round to finish on just his dressage score of 30.9, and earning himself $45,000.

Fourth place went to Piggy French (GBR), who competed in the Kentucky Three-Day for the first time this year on Quarrycrest Echo. Placing second after dressage (27.1), she added 6.4 time penalties on cross-country after giving the audience quite the scare at the Head of the Lake. After losing her stirrup a few jumps before, when her horse slipped on a turn, jumping into the water, French landed on the horse’s neck and nearly fell into the water. But she managed to stay on and complete the course successfully, on a final score of 33.5. She was awarded $38,000.

The 7th annual Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge was won by team Great Britian/Switzerland with a total score of 98.0. For the second year, second place went to team USA with a score of 114.2. In third place was team Australia/New Zealand, with a score of 181.5.

Dressage – April 25-26:
With a small field going into dressage, 41 horse and rider combinations were ready to take on the new CCI5*-L event.  Only one horse, Ashley Johnson’s Tactical Maneuver, was not accepted during the first horse inspection.

On Thursday, Swiss Felix Vogg, riding Colero, was the first to take the top spot in dressage, scoring 28.0. This would be his last competition in the U. S. before moving back to Germany, and he was going for the win. Liz Halliday-Sharp, on Deniro Z, followed closely behind with 30.9. Buck Davidson sat in third with his veteran mount, Park Trader, on a score of 32.1, a personal best for the pair. It was not a surprise, though, when on Friday Oliver Townend came with a vengeance to keep his title, scoring 24.1 and his new personal best. Kentucky Three-Day first-timer, Piggy French, also scored her personal best, following in second with 27.1. Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg tailed close behind with 27.9 for third place.
A little lower than last year, the total attendance for dressage was 5,466 on Thursday and 11,676 on Friday.

Cross Country – April 27:
Rainy, cloudy weather conditions the prior two days had threatened the competition on Saturday. However, with spotty sun, it turned out to be a wonderful day for cross-country. Returning cross country course designer Derek di Grazia put together a course that was described as inviting, but thoughtful. Multiple combinations featured direct and indirect routes, including the fan-favorite Head of the Lake. A new, highly-contested rule was in place this year, which added 15 penalties to any rider who knocked down a flag on the jump, even if the combination jumped through successfully. This was accompanied with the rule that adds 11 penalties to any frangible pin broken on course.

Out of 37 riders in the second phase, 31 completed the cross country course. Four withdrew before their ride, including two from Buck Davidson after his early fall and injury, and Caroline Martin’s other ride, also after her fall. Two horses retired on course, and four were eliminated, all because of rider falls. The crowd was stunned when the first three riders fell off: two at the Normandy Bank and one at the third jump. Buck Davidson, who fell at the Normandy Bank, broke his collarbone and was unable to continue on his other mounts. Only three riders finished on a double-clear and no penalties. Oliver Townend gathered only 1.2 time penalties, while both Boyd Martin and Tim Price rode fast to maintain their dressage scores, putting them in first, second, and third respectively. There was much controversy when Will Coleman was penalized the 15 points for missing a flag, while, otherwise, his round would have been double-clear.

All told, only four riders fell during the cross country course, and one of those was not even at a jump: Qorry Blue d'Argouges simply slipped out from under Colleen Loach while turning after fence 13. Although some flags were missed and pins broken, it was a safe day for this sport.

Cross-country day brought in a larger crowd than last year with 34,889 attending.

Stadium Jumping – April 28:
Going into stadium jumping, Oliver Townend had only one rail that separated him and Boyd Martin. To riders and fans alike, it brought much joy when all 31 pairs were accepted during the second inspection. No horses were withdrawn after cross-country, either. The talented field would keep everyone on the edge of their seats throughout the afternoon.

Course designer Richard Jeffery created a beautiful, technical course, which only a third of the field was able to navigate without jumping or time penalties. The top five finishers all snuck by without faults, and because of this, the leaderboard did not change much from after cross-country.

However, the biggest upset was Phillip Dutton on Z, who knocked down two rails, moving him from fourth place into seventh. This allowed Piggy French to move into fourth, and Doug Payne into fifth.

For his “victory gallop,” Townend came into the arena, pumping up the crowd with his arms as the British National Anthem played. This year he was driven around the arena, hanging out of the sunroof of his new Land Rover Discovery.

With 21,047 attendees, Sunday tickets doubled from last year. This brought the official headcount for the weekend to 73,079 people.

Between the shopping, giveaways, and demos, there were plenty of activities to take part in. Title Sponsor Land Rover once again hosted car model test-drives.

Kentucky CSI3* Invitational
There was no 5k race this year, but there was the $225,000 Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix, won by Ireland’s Paul O'Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. Friday’s $36,000 Welcome Stake was won by Karl Cook and Caillou 24 with a clean round in 65.47 seconds. This event brought in 10,106 paid tickets.  

Prince Phillip Cup
In its 19th consecutive year at the Kentucky Three-Day Event, the U.S. Pony Club’s Prince Phillip Cup Games were held on Friday and Saturday, with the winning team awarded in the opening ceremony on Sunday. The Mounted Games provided spectators with a great showing of talent, leadership, and sportsmanship by these young Pony Club riders.

Final placings for the Price Philip Cup Games:

1st Old Dominion/White Mountain Region – “Starstruck”
Hannah Sutton riding Porkchop
Hailey Zaun riding Daddy’s Fury
Madison Zaun riding Sunflower Power
Shakira Marquis riding Misbehavin’
Reese Pike riding Fury
2nd Midwest Region– “It’s A Games Thing”
Michaela Frye riding Curious George
Alyssa Kendrick riding Apollo
Alaina Morrissey riding Fancy That
Peyton Wiseman riding Tucker
3rd Delmarva Region – “Tidewaterblue Crabs”
Kelley Abell riding Isaac
Michael Baugh riding Apollo
Tegan Carey riding Stripey
Donald Ruths riding Gizmo
Yasmin Wells riding Judywer
4th Capital/Maryland Region- “Thunderhooves”
Mackenzie Hicks riding Gracie
Ella Jensen riding Greystone Gwen Daaghn
Brooke Keiser riding Hershey Kiss
Kate Keiser riding Legally Blond
Kate Benjamin riding Jellybean

Read more about the Prince Philip Cup at:

More interesting facts about U.S. Pony Club and the Ky 3-DE:

Of the top 20 finishers, 45% were Pony Club Alumni. Included in this prestigious group are Boyd Martin (Aus – Forest Hills Pony Club) who placed second on Tsetserleg, Tim Price (New Zealand - Oxford Pony Club) placed third, and Doug Payne (USA- Somerset Hills Pony Club) placed fifth.   

Full results and further information on the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event are available at:

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