Sally Spickard
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Sally Spickard

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About Sally Spickard

Living the dream as a professional internet stalker and EN reporter.

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Check Out Ellen Doughty-Hume’s Amazing Rolex Save

Ellen Doughty-Hume cruised around Rolex cross country yesterday for the second time, braving tough footing and rainy weather for a clear round with time added. Sir Oberon is Ellen’s 14-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred gelding, and both Ellen and “Obie” managed an amazing save at the Hollow yesterday.

EDH

Co-commentating at the time, Will Coleman called Ellen’s save “the most graceful leg-hang you will ever see.”

Thanks to Nicole Trapp, we’ve got a full series of shots from the save. Check it out:

Great save, Ellen! We’ll call you Ms. Stickability!

Watch Michael Jung Win Rolex Kentucky

Michael Jung with his parents Joachin and Brigitte. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Michael Jung with his parents Joachin and Brigitte. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Michael Jung won his second Rolex in grand, dominating fashion on a final score of 39.2, the only rider to finish in the 30s and finishing well ahead of second placed USEF National Champion Lauren Kieffer and Veronica.

His winning ride aboard fischerRocana FST has just been uploaded to USEF Network, so enjoy these videos of all three phases of Michael’s decisive win.

The Grand Finale: Rolex Top 3 Celebrate in Final Press Conference

Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The top three finishers at a thrilling edition of Rolex Kentucky gathered in the media center following the awards ceremony to drink champagne break down their show jumping rounds today. It should come as not a huge surprise that Michael Jung now has a Rolex for each wrist, but the U.S. contingent should also be thrilled with the fact that two of our top younger riders find themselves in the second and third position.

The final press conference is always a happy one, and everyone was in great spirits as we celebrated another successful weekend full of eventing highs. Congratulations to all, and here are your final top quotes from your Rolex 2016 top three:

Michael Jung on how he feels about his second Rolex win: “I’m not usually one for so many words… but the big thing I have to say: thank you to all the people that help me, that I can come back again and compete with so many good horses.”

Michael Jung on how he is feeling looking ahead to Badminton: “It’s a normal competition for me. It is a very big competition, it is tough, but you have to give the horse a normal feeling like it’s just a dressage practice. If you put too much pressure on in the warm-up then it comes to mistakes.”

Michael Jung on if the expectation to win caused more pressure: “My personality is a little bit calm, but when you wait all day for your ride that makes you a bit nervous.”

Lauren on how it feels to win the USEF National Championship for a second time: “There was definitely a lot of planning going into this one. Last time, it was a bit of a pleasant surprise… I think it’s important to notice that the U.S. kind of dominated the leaderboard this time and we had a lot of nations here. The U.S. team has certainly been working hard to raise their game, and hopefully everyone keeps on that and we gain confidence going into the summer.”

Maya Black on the fact that she didn’t know the media center existed before this weekend: “I really like being here!”

If you missed out, you can re-watch our live stream of the press conference below:

Magic in Kentucky: On the Sidelines of Rolex Stadium 

Big hugs for a 17-year-old going on 5-year-old.  Photo by Sally Spickard. Big hugs for a 17-year-old going on 5-year-old. Photo by Sally Spickard.

I wandered about the warm-up today during show jumping. It’s an area where I prefer to be some days; it’s fascinating to see how the riders execute their warm-ups and also what their reactions are as they enter and exit the arena. Game faces on, here is your on the sidelines gallery from the final day of Rolex Kentucky.

Preview the Rolex Show Jumping Course with Earl and Jennifer McFall

A map of today's show jumping. A map of today's show jumping.

We’re just under an hour to go until we finish out another Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Riders will be tackling a very tough course designed by Richard Jeffery, and add in the factor of a big crowd in the grandstands, and it will not be surprising to see the final standings shaken a bit at the end of the day.

Many thanks to Earl and Jennifer McFall, who traveled from their home base in Northern California to cheer on their friends this weekend, for giving us this great preview of what to expect today.

 

Watch This: Laine Ashker’s Helmet Cam from Rolex Cross Country

Laine Ashker uploaded her helmet cam video from yesterday after what she called the ride of her life aboard her longtime partner, Anthony Patch. Laine told the media that she felt she rode like “the old Laine” and put some demons to rest, particularly at the coffin, on yesterday’s course.

Laine added 18.4 time penalties to head into today’s show jumping within the top 30. Enjoy the ride, and stay tuned for more from the final day here at #RK3DE!

Team USA Holds Steady Atop Dubarry Nations Challenge

Lauren Kieffer, Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton. Photos by Leslie Threlkeld. Lauren Kieffer, Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton. Photos by Leslie Threlkeld.

Despite losing one of their teammates to Derek di Grazia’s course, Team USA still clinched the top spot and a hefty lead following today’s cross country thanks to three clear rounds. With just time added on to their scores, the team of Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin and Lauren Kieffer will take a team score of 151.5 into the grand finale tomorrow to conclude Rolex and the $20,000 Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge.

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter unfortunately had a fall late in the course — they’re both reported to be ok — but luckily their score can be dropped as per the usual team format, leaving the team intact otherwise.

Team New Zealand had a bit of a rough day out there, with Tim Price sadly falling just two fences from home and resulting in the drop score. Blyth Tait and Xanthus III picked up one refusal after the Head of the Lake and Mark Todd and Jock Paget brought their horses home with just time penalties added. The Kiwi team score rests at 222.0 — barring any absolute disasters tomorrow, it seems the win is fully in Team USA’s pocket at this point.

In bronze position is the mixed team of Australia, Germany and Great Britain. Ryan Wood will be the drop score with Frankie after he had an early dismount on course, but Michael Jung and James Alliston helped carry the team with clear rounds. Panda Christie, riding for Great Britain, is also a member of this team.

We’re all gearing up for the exciting finish tomorrow, and looking to our Dubarry Fantasy League, it’s Team Buck leading the way on a score of 198.5 before his dropped score is applied. Unfortunately, Kyle is in a tough spot with one of his riders, Tiana Coudray, retiring on course and another, Allison Springer, incurring 20 jumping penalties.

As we look ahead to the final day tomorrow, we wish all of our Fantasy League competitors good luck and are also eagerly anticipating the finale of the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge. Stay tuned!

 

Video Interviews: Rolex Riders Talk About Their Cross Country Rides

Samantha Clark braved the cold and rain all day today to interview riders as they were coming off of the cross country course. We posted these videos as they came up in our open thread (here and here), but in case you missed them you can watch all of them right here. Enjoy!

And the rest of the rider interview videos can be found within this playlist:

Rolex Leaders Break Down Cross Country in Day Three Press Conference

Rolex leaders and Derek di Grazia following cross country. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Rolex leaders and Derek di Grazia following cross country. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

We enjoyed a great press conference with Michael Jung, Phillip Dutton, Maya Black and Lauren Kieffer this afternoon following cross country here at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

After tenaciously holding onto his lead heading into tomorrow, Michael was quick to give credit to fischerRocana FST, who if anything looked better than she did last year in the muck.

Phillip Dutton also finds himself in second and third place aboard Fernhill Fugitive and Mighty Nice, respectively. And Maya Black has landed in fourth place at just her second Rolex, and she admitted she didn’t even know there was a media center here at the Park!

We also must congratulate Lauren Kieffer for winning the Land Rover Ride of the Day award on Landmark’s Monte Carlo by coming home closest to the optimum time of the American riders with 2.8 time penalties. Even more impressive, this was Landmark’s Monte Carlo’s first four-star.

The gathered leaders gave us some great quotes from their rides today, and we were even joined by course designer Derek di Grazia toward the end. If you missed our live stream you can view the press conference video in its entirety below.

Michael Jung on how the weather affected his ride: “For me it was a bit hard working today, but I’m absolutely happy about my mare, fischerRocana, she was absolutely fighting and really concentrated and trusted me. That gives you, as a rider, a very, very good feeling. She (was) galloping in the end and when I push her a little bit, she (was) galloping as fast as she can. She tried all the best. That’s absolutely great feeling.

Michael Jung on the timing of Kentucky: The four-star in Kentucky is always very early in the season. You have not so much time to bring the horse to the best condition. Maybe we need one or two more three-stars that you have a very good feeling before it comes very early.

Phillip Dutton on Fernhill Fugitive’s run today:
I thought all three went well, but like Michael said it wasn’t easy. The conditions, especially as the day went on … but it’s always safe. I think Derek does a great job with the course because the problems were spread throughout. I think this was a great learning experience for them.

Maya Black on if she’d thought she’d be in this press conference today: “Not particularly, but I’m very happy to be here!”

Lauren Kieffer Land Rover Ride of the Day on Landmark’s Monte Carlo: “THe horse, it was his first four-star. He’s a homebred and we’ve had him his whole life. He’s owned by (Ms.) Jacqueline Mars and he hasn’t always been the easiest but she believed in him from the beginning and he really was foot perfect today. I’m really happy with him.”

Michael Jung comparing his cross country ride to last year’s: This year, I feel that the mare was really a lot fighting, really good galloping … my idea was that I give the mare a bit more time in the beginning, but she (was) galloping very fast and very good up the hills.”

Lauren Kieffer on how the conditions varied between her two rides: “I think the ground was a lot better this better. It started to deteriorate — on Veronica I did have to hunt for good ground. The nice thing about Kentucky is it really took it quite well, it wasn’t bottomless or anything. I certainly think that’s why you saw the time get harder and harder to get.”

Maya Black on her trip today: “I wasn’t really concerned about any of the fences, per se, I was more concerned about just getting around safely with my horse and making sure I did the best thing for him. Last year, he got a little bit more tired. This year, I was really pleased with how he galloped and how he recovered. He definitely felt better. I was more just wanting to be smart and ride him the best I could towards the end of the course.”

Michael Jung on whether or not he would sleep well tonight knowing he has three rails in hand: “I sleep very well because of today.”

Michael Jung on what he looks for in a potential four-star horse: *silence and raised eyebrows*

Derek di Grazia on the weather forecast for today: “I think you’re always a little nervous about it. Last year, we rain in the rain and the footing held up pretty well last year, so I knew the ground here is quite good. We hadn’t had that much rain throughout the week, so I knew that starting out we’d probably be ok. It was just a matter of what was going to happen during the day. I take my hats off to the riders, I think they did an excellent job and they really produced some great rounds.”

Stay tuned for much more from the penultimate day of Rolex, and many thanks as always for sharing this weekend with us!

Watch This: Drone Flyover of Rolex Kentucky Cross Country Course

The USEF Network has uploaded this great flyover video featuring the elements on Derek di Grazia’s cross country course that riders will be tackling today. There are plenty of variables — mostly the weather — to deal with today, so we’ll be eagerly anticipating seeing how the riders execute their plans on course.

Many thanks to the USEF Network for continuing to provide such top-notch video coverage of Rolex! Remember, you can watch the action FREE beginning at 10 a.m. EST with Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive here.

Safe and clear rides to all!

5th Annual Rolex Top Dog Contest, Presented by World Equestrian Brands

2015 Top Dog Lincoln in his Land Rover (Land Rover not included in prize). 2015 Top Dog Lincoln in his Land Rover (Land Rover not included in prize).

Keep your children on a leash and your dogs in focus! Sniffing, wagging, splashing, napping – and hopefully not chasing Buck Davidson – the pooches will be on parade at Rolex this year, even in the forecasted monsoon! Capture one with your camera in the always popular Fifth Annual WEB Rolex Top Dog Contest!

Here are a couple faves from last year to help you hone in on the hounds:

Claire Ryner's Macy.

Claire Ryner’s Macy.

Jessica Pershing's Hewie wanted to display his excellent bascule over some fences.

Jessica Pershing’s Hewie wanted to display his excellent bascule over some fences.

The winning photo will receive a Veritas Fancy Raised Figure-8 Bridle from our awesome sponsor, World Equestrian Brands. The Veritas Figure-8 Bridle features unparalled luxurious padding on the single crown piece, select premium leather and stainless steel buckles. These bridles are designed for superior comfort, style and performance.

Photo courtesy of World Equestrian Brands.

Photo courtesy of World Equestrian Brands.

World Equestrian Brands products are well-known for their functionality as well as their sophisticated look — you and your horse will be riding in high style with this addition to your tack closet!

Contest Details:

Send your puppy pic to [email protected] with the subject line “Top Dog.” One entry per person.

Deadline: Sunday, May 1, 5 p.m. EST

Caitlyn Fischer Dies at Sydney International Horse Trials

Caitlyn Fischer and Ralphie in the CIC* at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre in February. Photo used with permission from Main Event Photography. Caitlyn Fischer and Ralphie in the CIC* at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre in February. Photo used with permission from Main Event Photography.

We are heartbroken to report that 19-year-old Caitlyn Fischer has died after a fall at fence two on the CCI* course at Sydney International Horse Trials while competing Ralphie, her 12-year-old Thoroughbred cross gelding.

Ralphie is in stable condition and under observation by veterinarians.

The event released the following statement:

Organisers of the Sydney International Horse Trials wish to advise the cancellation of all competitions due to a tragic accident.

It is with the deepest regret that we announce Miss Caitlyn Fischer suffered a fatal accident while competing at the Cross-Country competition of the Sydney International Horse Trials at 10:40am on Saturday 30 April 2016.

Caitlyn, aged 19 from Bairnsdale, Victoria, was riding the horse Ralphie in the one star competition when the accident occurred at fence two.

Caitlyn was provided urgent medical attention by the on-course paramedic and doctor but unfortunately was unable to be revived.

Caitlyn’s horse Ralphie is in a stable condition and remains under the observation of veterinarians.

Equestrian Australia Chairwoman Judy Fasher said, “On behalf of the whole sport I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to Caitlyn’s parents Ailsa Carr and Mark Fischer and her family. The thoughts and prayers of horse people all over the country are with Caitlyn’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Please be advised that Equestrian Australia Chairwoman Judy Fasher will address the media at 2pm today at the Sydney International Horse Trials – Saxony Road, Horsley Park. Please contact Equestrian Australia media contact Michelle Cook – 0414 702 697 upon arrival.

Photo used with permission from Main Event Photography.

Photo used with permission from Main Event Photography.

Caitlin began competing at the one-star level with Ralphie last year, completing five CIC* competitions. They most recently finished seventh in the CIC* at Equestriad Australia.

The EN team extends our deepest condolences to Caitlyn’s family, friends and acquaintances.

Team USA On Top of Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge

Team USA for the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge. Photos by Jenni Autry & Leslie Threlkeld. Team USA for the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge. Photos by Jenni Autry & Leslie Threlkeld.

The Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge is fully underway, with five teams competing for the $20,000 prize. In its fourth year, the Dubarry Nations Team Challenge gives riders the ability to compete in a team atmosphere — a key component considering the fact that it’s an Olympic year.

The Team Challenge encourages friendly competition and the team members were selected based on their current FEI World Ranking. Two teams consist of mixed nations as well. The five teams competing this weekend are as follows:

USA:

Marilyn Little / RF Demeter
Lauren Kieffer / Veronica
Boyd Martin / Shamwari 4
Phillip Dutton / Mighty Nice

New Zealand:

Mark Todd / NZB Campino
Jonathan Paget / Clifton Signature
Tim Price / Bango
Blyth Tait / Xanthus III

Canada:

Jessica Phoenix / Pavarotti
Selena O’Hanlon / Foxwood High
Lisa Marie Fergusson / Honor Me
Kyle Carter / Madison Park

AUS, GER, GBR:

Michael Jung / fischerRocana FST
Panda Christie / Little Leo
Ryan Wood / Frankie
James Alliston / Parker

BRA, IRE, MEX:

Tim Bourke / Luckaun Quality
Daniela Moguel / Cecelia
Nilson Moreira da Silva / Muggle

At the conclusion of the first phase of competition, it’s team USA in the lead on a total penalty score of 131.0. After solid performances in the low to mid-40s for all four team members — who are also stalwart and gritty cross country competitors — they should be feeling fairly confident heading into tomorrow.

Team New Zealand isn’t far behind the Americans, they’re just 8 points in second place on a total score of 139.0. The Kiwis are formidable forces on cross country, so don’t deal them out of the running for first place just yet. Between the number of Olympic medals between them all, I’d say this should be a treat to watch tomorrow.

In bronze position after dressage is Team Canada, and once again there’s a wealth of experience on this team. One rookie, Lisa Marie Fergusson, is on the Canadian team as well, and we’ll be looking for safe and clear yet competitive rounds from this bunch.

We’re also in the midst of our Dubarry Rolex Fantasy League, where we’re pitting Buck Davidson and Kyle Carter against each other in an epic match game. Here are how Team Buck and Team Kyle are faring after dressage:

Fantasy

It’s splitting hairs to decide who has the better shot on cross country tomorrow. Buck has a narrow lead but I suspect things may very well change at the end of the day tomorrow. We will find out soon enough!

Game Faces On: Top Three Strategize at Rolex Day Two Press Conference

Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The top three following dressage, Michael Jung, Allison Springer and Marilyn Little, talked about strategy in the day two press conference. The current forecast is calling for an 80% chance of rain, including thunderstorms, for basically the whole day.

Screenshot_7

The general consensus among the riders is that the changes to Derek di Grazia’s course this year will make for a very challenging day tomorrow. Here are some of the best quotes from this afternoon’s press conference, including the rider’s thoughts on their dressage rides.

Allison Springer:

On being back at Rolex after missing the 2015 event: It’s always so emotional and wonderful to be here. It’s such a long partnership with that horse. He’s tricky, but it brings a tear to my eye to be able to be here. To hear the crowd cheering you on — it’s just a great feeling here.

On her overall impressions of her test: “I think the 2014 test was a tick better. I feel like I was sneaking through the walk here. He was great, but I certainly was praying for the walk to get done with and the rein back to not be too exciting. But I was thrilled with him.”

On how she feels about the track tomorrow: “To me, this is probably the most tiring track I’ve seen at Rolex. It used to be that we had this really nice long hill down from the tents back through the steeplechase field and it seems to be they could catch their breath and you could make up a little bit of time. I don’t think there’s anywhere to make time at the end. You have to be really smart in your turns everywhere and kick away from the fences. I just think it’s a very tiring track. Fitness is going to be different.”

On her spot as the last rider on course: “I guess that could totally depend on the weather. If it rains quite a bit and the footing deteriorates, I can’t imagine it would be an advantage to go at the end. But you’re just dealt the cards you’re dealt and you deal with it. Right now, I have my plan and you have to be wise and be a horseman and adjust as needed.”

Marilyn Little:

On the cross country course: “Everything looks a little big to me right now. I’ve only done two Intermediates this season so I’ve lost a little perspective. But I have a very experienced horse with a big heart. I think that the weather will play a very big role; we’re all hoping for as dry of a day as possible. The footing feels very nice out there right now. I go later — and obviously Allison goes very late — so we’ll both be hoping that we’re not up to our knees.”

On her dressage test: “I’ve had tests where there were some more moments of brilliance and we had a few mistakes that were disappointing. But it was certainly one of the more relaxed tests and I was quite pleased to see that. She wants to be a reliable horse in dressage and I’d like to be able to carry that relaxation into the future tests and also bring back a little of the sparkle that I felt before.”

Michael Jung:

On his strategy tomorrow given the forecast: “We will see how is the weather tomorrow. At the moment, we try to go fast because I think my mare is in a very good form. She feels very happy and very strong, but it can change tomorrow morning.”

On his thoughts on going for the Grand Slam: “It’s very important. For me, it’s a long trip to here, and I’m not coming to here to have a nice holiday! When I come to here, I try to win but it depends also (on) the horse. Sometimes the weather is not so good or the horse doesn’t feel so good or you lost a shoe on the track and you go more slow — in the end, it’s very important that you have to finish the competition with a healthy horse and then the season can go on.

Watch the whole press conference here, and stay tuned tomorrow for the press conference which we will be live streaming on our Facebook page. We’ll try to ask some of our readers’ questions in tomorrow’s session!

Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Day Two Press Conference

Posted by Eventing Nation on Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Video from World Equestrian Brands: Allison Springer Recaps Her Rolex Test

World Equestrian Brands rider Allison Springer stopped by to chat with the press after her always impressive dressage test aboard Arthur. Arthur is 17 this year, but you’d never know by watching him. This is their 11th CCI4* start — such an impressive feat for a long standing partnership.

A score of 39.6 is just a tick off of their score from last year, and this puts them into second place after the dressage phase of competition. She’s got a bit of ground to make up to catch Michael Jung in the next two phases — she told Frankie Thieriot after her ride that she’d have to “ride as fierce as a German tomorrow!”

Stay tuned for our full report on the day as well as the press conference, which we’ll be streaming live on our Facebook page in just a few minutes.

Rolex Day Two Afternoon Dressage Open Thread, Presented by SmartPak

Allison Springer and Arthur. Photo by Jenni Autry. Allison Springer and Arthur. Photo by Jenni Autry.

We’re just a few minutes away from kicking off the first of our final two groups to see in the first phase of competition at Rolex. We have some great scores that have come in this morning, including Marilyn Little’s second place test aboard RF Demeter.

West Coast wonders Barb Crabo and Eveready will kick us off at 1:30 p.m. EST and we’re looking forward to seeing the final few riders!

3:46 p.m. EST:That’s a wrap for dressage! Stay tuned for the full report. Full live scores here.

3:45 p.m. EST: Allison tells Frankie Thieriot that her walk and a couple of her changes could’ve been better, but that she’s so thrilled. “I’m going to have to ride as fierce as a German tomorrow, right?!”

3:44 p.m. EST: A 39.6 for Allison and Arthur to slot them solidly into second place! This is one of her lowest scores at this level (2014 was her lowest).

3:41 p.m. EST: This is going to be a strong test to threaten Marilyn, but unfortunately she doesn’t seem to be trending to topple Miche Jung. What a BEAUTIFUL test, as usual!!

3:40 p.m. EST: Jessie Phoenix on her test with Pavarotti:

3:40 p.m. EST:

Phillip Dutton got lots of love from the crowd after his test with HND Group’s Mighty Nice! #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

3:39 p.m. EST: “She didn’t lose any points there!” – Karen on Allison’s halt and reinback.

3:37 p.m. EST: Allison received the same marks as Miche on her entry and salute.

3:37 p.m. EST: So much pressure to be the last to go. But if anyone can handle it – and challenge Miche – it’s this pair.

3:36 p.m. EST: A 45.0 for Phillip, he’ll go into 11th place with that. Allison is in next to bring the dressage to a close.

3:33 p.m. EST: A beautiful, textbook test from Phillip! The changes were perfection and he looks so pleased with Happy. Nicely ridden!

Phillip

3:29 p.m. EST:

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

3:28 p.m. EST: Phillip has dedicated his ride on “Happy” this weekend to the late Bruce Duchossois.

3:27 p.m. EST: P-Dutty is in next with Mighty Nice. He said yesterday he hopes to challenge Miche in his dressage today. And then we have #Allithur (told you, it’s a thing) to close us out. Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti score a 44.5 for a current 8th place.

3:25 p.m. EST: Rotti just got a bit unraveled towards the middle and end of his canter work, which will cost them some points. Jessie still has a big grin and has lots of pats for her friend.

3:23 p.m. EST: Nice reach in the half-pass to the right here from Rotti:

Jessie

3:21 p.m. EST: Pavarotti is a showman. Should be fun to watch this test.

3:20 p.m. EST:

3:19 p.m. EST Deep breath and a pat for Blackfoot Mystery. A few bobbles in the changes but a solid debut. Trust me, Boyd will want to be sitting on this one come tomorrow!

boyd

3:13 p.m. EST: Boyd is in the ring with “Big Red,” Blackfoot Mystery. Fun fact, this horse is a Kentucky bred! His breeder, John O’Meara, stopped by to say hi earlier this week.

Screenshot_3

3:12 p.m. EST:

How cute are the Pony Club volunteers with their synchronized walk? #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

3:12 p.m. EST: Buck fills us in on his ride with Copper Beach:

3:11 p.m. EST:

3:10 p.m. EST: Lillian Heard managed some tension from FYI quite well. Just a bit of tension in the upward transition to canter and a couple of the changes.

3:10 p.m. EST:

Mark Todd and NZB Campino tie for 5th place with their score of 43.2 #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

3:09 p.m. EST:

Chinch is Mark Todd’s #1 fan! #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

3:08 p.m. EST: Sir Mark gives us his thoughts on his test:

3:08 p.m. EST:

3:05 p.m. EST: A 48.5 for Buck and Copper Beach and Buck is obviously thrilled. Next in is Lillian Heard, also with her final ride, FYI.

3:04 p.m. EST: #squadgoals

Buck

3:00 p.m. EST:

2:57 p.m. EST: A tip of the hat for the adoring crowd from Sir Mark! I had a GIF but it’s too long. Sigh.

2:56 p.m. EST: Next in is Buck Davidson with his final ride, Copper Beach.

2:56 p.m. EST:

2:53 p.m. EST: A flawless counter canter to a flawless change.

Mark 2

2:51 p.m. EST: Free dressage lessons from Mark Todd. Very correct.

Mark

2:50 p.m. EST: This final group is full of powerhouses! So excited. #edgeofmyseat

2:49 p.m. EST: Here we go! Mark Todd is in the ring with NZB Campino.

2:48 p.m. EST:

2:47 p.m. EST: Emily Beshear on her day with Delta:

2:33 p.m. EST: 60.4 for Ryan and McLovin. The final break of the day now, we’ll resume at 2:50 p.m. EST with Sir Mark Todd and NZB Campino and…drumroll…#ALLITHUR to bring the house down. The hashtag is a thing, guys. Use it. Love it. Embrace it.

2:33 p.m. EST:

2:32 p.m. EST: Ryan completes his third ride – he’s a busy guy this weekend!

2:31 p.m. EST: Lauren Kieffer and Tiana Coudray chat about their rides:

2:31 p.m. EST: “He looks slow, I think he’s getting time faults.” – Karen. Can I use the cry laugh emoji here?

2:27 p.m. EST: Emily and Shame On the Moon receive a score of 52.3.

2:26 p.m. EST: Next in is Ryan Wood on his final ride, McLovin aka BEST NAME EVER.

Mclovin

2:25 p.m. EST: Delta was a bit star struck by the atmosphere – bear in mind, this is her first time at Rolex. All things considered, a lovely ride for Emily and a talented horse to keep producing. On to cross country!

2:24 p.m. EST:

Ringwood Magister insisted on smiling for the cameras after his test with Tiana Coudray #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

2:24 p.m. EST: Tim Bourke fills us in on his test:

2:24 p.m. EST:

2:22 p.m. EST: Delta settles in a bit but she’s still going to lose traction due to tension. This pair has tons of potential for a brilliant test, Karen O’Connor says, and it’s evident in the movement she displays:

Delta

2:18 p.m. EST: It’s the battle of the grays! Next in, one of my personal favorite horses, Shame On the Moon with Emily Beshear in the irons. I think it’s the purple tails Emily usually wears. Delta is VERY tense, which will be a shame if she carries that into the ring.

2:18 p.m. EST: Bobby Meyerhoff stops to chat about his test:

2:16 p.m. EST: Karen O’Connor and Gina Miles comment that Tiana isn’t picking up the scores that they thought she might in her canter work, then said the canter work didn’t flow as nicely as Michael and Marilyn. Regardless, still a test that Tiana looks very pleased with.

2:15 p.m. EST: Just a few. Horse Pesterer in the house!

Screenshot_1

2:13 p.m. EST: A nice floaty medium across the diagonal for Tiana and “Finn”:

Tiana

2:12 p.m. EST:

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica score 43.9 to move into 6th. That’s their best 4* score to date! #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

2:11 p.m. EST Member of the 2012 Olympic team Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister are in the ring! This is a lovely horse who can put in a very competitive test.

2:10 p.m. EST: A 43.9 and sixth place for Lauren and Veronica. This is their lowest CCI4* score to date! That deserves a high five from David!

DOC

2:07 p.m. EST: Karen O’Connor says the walk has always been Veronica’s weaker point – she tends to shorten and tighten her back. Hold your breath for this score!

2:05 p.m. EST: Lauren was trending ahead of or even with Michael Jung but has lost some ground in the walk.

2:03 p.m. EST: Veronica struts in at A like “I heard some other mare is saying they’re better than me.”

Lauren K

2:02 p.m. EST: High hopes for this next pair – Team Rebecca’s Veronica with the inimitable Lauren Kieffer in the irons.

2:01 p.m. EST:

2:00 p.m. EST: A very nice and strong test from Tim and “Obie”. Tim trains with Sharon White, and their hard work has really been paying off. You definitely won’t want to miss this pair tomorrow.

1:58 p.m. EST:

1:56 p.m. EST: Barb Crabo recounts her test with Eveready:

1:55 p.m. EST:

Fan favorite Anthony Patch is looking fighting fit and ready for cross country with @laineyea

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

1:54 p.m. EST: Ireland’s Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality are next to go.

1:54 p.m. EST: A 55.9 for Anthony Patch, who really wants to show us where the cross country is.

Laine 2

1:52 p.m. EST: Al settled more in his canter work. Laine looks pleased and gives her longtime friend a pat.

1:51 p.m. EST:

1:50 p.m. EST: Al is a bit up today – he’s ready to get on with tomorrow. But he did have a lovely extension – his favorite movement.

Laine

1:48 p.m. EST: Al says, “wait mom, I have to say hi to my fans!”

Lainey

1:47 p.m. EST: Laine and Al are in the ring for the seventh time in their career together.

1:46 p.m. EST: A 56.1 for Bobby and Token. This is a cool trend – they started with a score in the 70s in their debut in 2014, got down in the 60s in 2015 and now have reached the 50s. Nicely done, you two!

1:44 p.m. EST: Token looks to be in fighting fit form during his test. Bobby ends with a big grin and he’ll be ready to tackle that beefy cross country course tomorrow. Up next is the selfie queen of eventing, Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch.

1:41 p.m. EST: #FBF (flashback Friday for those who aren’t hip) to Bobby’s top hat flying off in 2014:

bobby1gif

1:40 p.m. EST:

Barb Crabo and Eveready kicked off the afternoon with a steady test for 52.8 #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

1:39 p.m. EST:

1:37 p.m. EST: Barb and Eveready score of 52.8. Bobby Meyerhoff and Dunlavin’s Token are the next to go.

1:36 p.m. EST: A nice, relaxed transition into the extended canter.

Barb

1:34 p.m. EST: A bit of tension in the walk for Eveready, who is another formidable horse to see on cross country.

1:21 p.m. EST: Just a few minutes out from resuming the dressage. Here’s your first pair to enter at A:

Barb Crabo and Eveready. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Barb Crabo and Eveready. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Rolex Rookies: Avery Klunick and In It to Win It

Avery Klunick and In It to Win It. Photo by Jenni Autry. Avery Klunick and In It to Win It. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Avery Klunick is a well traveled girl. Growing up in Texas, she never imagined she’d one day end up on both coasts pursuing her dreams of competing at the uppermost levels of the sport. Now, she’s just made her CCI4* debut today in the fabled Rolex Stadium.

In It To Win It, a 16-year-old New Zealand Sport Horse, came to Avery when she was younger, at the end of 2008. Avery’s trainers in Texas, Bobo Wroe and Kathleen Zins, found him in Michigan. He’d won a CCI1* with former rider Julia Briskin, but it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows for the new pair at first.

“It was hard to learn how to ride him,” Avery recalled. “I was just a kid, I didn’t have much experience. He’s a really cool horse, he’s super brave, I just wasn’t that good when I got him. It was an example of a kid getting a really nice horse that they weren’t necessarily ready to ride, but somehow it ended up working out as we kept going.”

“He’s pretty much been my first everything,” she continued. And this is definitely true — in 2011 “Winston” took Avery to the FEI National Junior and Young Rider Championships, where they finished fifth individually in the CCI1*. The next year, they returned to Young Riders to finish sixth individually in the CCI2*.

It’s been a labor of love for Avery and Winston, whose partnership is numbering eight years this year. “We’ve basically grown up together,” she said.

Avery recalls receiving a poster from Rolex in 2009 and zeroing in on this event as her big goal. It was when she went to Young Riders for the first time that she truly realized that this sport was special and that she wanted to see the game through.

Avery Klunick and In It To Win It. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Avery Klunick and In It To Win It. Photo by Sally Spickard.

But she took the ‘typical’ route, going to college straight out of high school. This didn’t prevent her from working towards her goal, however, and she eventually took a job working for Derek and Bea di Grazia in California.

“Senior year of high school, I went to Galway to do the one-star,” Avery said. “My coach had gotten really sick, but her daughter had ridden with Derek and Bea, so she called and asked if they could help me.” After that, she called the di Grazias asking if they had a spot for her in the summer, which she did.

“Texas is wonderful, but I just wanted to see what else was out there,” she said. “I worked with Mike (Huber) and Heather (Morris) as well, and I just had access to really great coaching. It was ironic, my parents didn’t know horses when I first started and we somehow found Bobo and have always just been really fortunate with who we’ve chosen to work with.”

Avery calls Derek and Bea di Grazia “game changers” for her career. “They expected a lot from me, and they knew that I could do some really cool things with this horse if I kept working. They’ve definitely been my mentors through everything.” She’s also quick to thank Mary D’Arcy, with whom she has also worked for almost two years.

Avery Klunick and In It To Win It, Richland CIC3*.  Photo by Rare Air Eventing Photography.

Avery Klunick and In It To Win It, Richland CIC3*. Photo by Rare Air Eventing Photography.

Avery and Winston have been campaigning at the Advanced and three-star level since 2014, picking up several top placings, including a fifth place in the CIC3* at Twin Rivers in 2014, a top-25 in their first CCI3* at Bromont, and a top-10 in the CCI3* at Rebecca Farm last year.

College graduation was coming up quickly, though, and Avery needed a plan as she looked ahead to what she knew she wanted to accomplish. She thought about who she’d want to work with going forward and eventually made a call to Boyd Martin.

“The funny thing about me is, I’ve always just met random people throughout my life,” Avery said with a laugh. “I had only met Boyd once before, and I’m sure he doesn’t remember, so when I called him it was definitely out of the blue.”

Sure enough, Boyd offered her a spot working for him in Aiken for the winter, so once again Avery packed her bags and her trailer and this time headed east.

“Basing at Stable View for the winter was an incredible experience, it really makes you up your game,” Avery said. “There were times when you’d be riding and there’d be several Olympians in the ring with you. It’s surreal. But it’s a really great feeling to be a part of a big team and a big program like that.”

“Boyd is a really good cross country rider, which is one reason why I really wanted to be able to work with him. He’s very intuitive, he can see things that I need to fix just at a glance. He really emphasizes riding accurately. I feel much better prepared now than I have before for Rolex.”

Avery’s goals this weekend are to have a respectable result — she’s realistic about this being her first goal but believes that she has the tools to do the job. “You never know what’s going to happen, but at the end of the day I just want to do right by my horse. It’s at the point where our work at home is getting so much better. I know Winston wants to do it, I just need to help him out.”

Rolex Dressage Day Two Morning Open Thread, Presented by SmartPak

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter. Photo by Jenni Autry. Marilyn Little and RF Demeter. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Welcome to day two of dressage here at Rolex Kentucky! We’ve already seen some downright incredible rides on the first day of competition, but there is plenty more to come yet today. Michael Jung currently holds a handy lead with last year’s winner fischerRocana FST after a dazzling performance yesterday.

We’ll be looking for several riders to come up to the challenge of Michael’s mid-30s score today, so it should be a battle right down to the very end, when dressage powerhouses Allison Springer and Arthur close out the day.

We’re bringing you the latest updates right here on our open thread this morning. Refresh this page to keep abreast of the action and also follow along with the USEF Network live stream here.

12:49 p.m. EST: Allie Knowles chats about her test:

12:18 p.m. EST: Here are your most recent standings:

Screenshot_6

12:17 p.m. EST: Kim Severson talks with the press after her test with Fernhill Fearless:

12:17 p.m. EST:

Big pats for Tate! #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

12:14 p.m. EST: Allie had a big smile on her face while recapping her test with coach Buck Davidson. A great way to close out the morning group! Michael Jung’s score remains the only in the 30s, and Marilyn Little is in second with RF Demeter. Stay tuned here for more videos and photos and also keep an eye out for Jenni’s lunchtime report! We’ll pick up with our final groups at 1:30 p.m. with Barb Crabo and Eveready.

Hang on, ma. Got an itch.

Hang on, ma. Got an itch.

12:14 p.m. EST:

12:06 p.m. EST:

Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville score 47.6 for 12th place #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

12:05 p.m. EST: And the last before lunch will be hometown girl Allie Knowles with Sound Prospect.

Allie Knowles and Sound Prospect in 2015. Photo by Rare Air Eventing Photography.

Allie Knowles and Sound Prospect in 2015. Photo by Rare Air Eventing Photography.

12:02 p.m. EST: Sinead and Tate have earned a 47.6 for 12th place.

Tate

11:58 a.m. EST: A teeny bit up in some early trot work but he’s settling into his lateral work well.

11:56 a.m. EST:

11:56 a.m. EST: IT’S TATEY TIME!!

11:55 a.m. EST: Class act:

Here’s Kim Severson saying thank you to the wonderful Pony Clubbers who are volunteering as ring stewards at #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

11:54 a.m. EST: Liz Halliday-Sharp stops to chat about her test with HHS Cooley:

11:51 a.m. EST: Lisa Barry has withdrawn F.I.S Prince Charming – they were due to be next so now we’ll wait for Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville.

Screenshot_5

11:49 a.m. EST: A great test to watch from Kim Severson and Sparky. A bit of keenness broke through in the canter work, but they earned a respectable 51.6. Kim’s quiet mannerisms with her horses is really neat to watch. Look how she spends a quiet moment with him after the final salute:

Kim 2

11:44 a.m. EST: Very expressive medium trot from Fernhill Fearless, aka “Sparky”.

Kim

11:43 a.m. EST:

Shout out to @lizhallidaysharp’s super groom Gemma Jalinska for having HHS Cooley so beautifully turned out! #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

11:41 a.m. EST:

11:40 a.m. EST: And now we welcome back one of our leading ladies, Kim Severson with Fernhill Fearless. We spied Kim in line at Starbucks today, let’s hope it was some dancing fuel! #notlikesheneedsit #dressageskillz #gosparky

11:39 a.m. EST: Liz Halliday-Sharp and HHS Cooley finish their test which had a bit of tension in the changes. They’ll take a score of 54.8 into tomorrow.

11:39 a.m. EST:

11:38 a.m. EST:

Goooooo William! #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

11:34 a.m. EST:

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

11:34 a.m. EST: Catch up with kiwi Blyth Tait!

11:34 a.m. EST: Daniela Moguel shares her thoughts on her Rolex debut:

11:33 a.m. EST: Liz Halliday-Sharp is next in the ring with her second ride, HHS Cooley.

11:32 a.m. EST:

11:30 a.m. EST: Two textbook changes to finish out Hannah Sue’s test. A couple of little mistakes but she should be very pleased with this comeback test.

11:27 a.m. EST: This is a beautiful, accurate test so far. Harbour Pilot is a fantastic mover and Hannah is doing a great job of riding through some extra energy and making it look seamless.

Hannah

11:26 a.m. EST:

Blyth Tait and Xanthus III score 54.1. It’s awesome to have Blyth back at #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

11:25 a.m. EST: Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot make their return to the four-star level. This horse is a great dressage horse, let’s see what you’ve got, William!

11:25 a.m. EST:

11:22 a.m. EST: Xanthus’ canter work is a bit more green than his lovely trot work but Blyth is putting in a very quiet ride. This reinback is probably the best so far:

Blyth 2

11:22 a.m. EST: 60ish tests in and I still don’t have the test memorized. #howdotheydoit

11:18 a.m. EST: Blyth Tait and Xanthus III are in the ring now. Blyth is a living legend, truly a great opportunity to see one of the greats here on U.S. soil!

Blyth

11:16 a.m. EST: Daniela Moguel and Cecelia score a 57.8 in their debut. Big pats for the mare!

Daniela 2

11:14 a.m. EST:

11:13 a.m. EST: Daniela working through some tension with Cecelia, who is a lovely mover but just a bit tense.

Daniela

11:13 a.m. EST:

11:10 a.m. EST: Lynn Symansky in the house!

Screenshot_4

11:09 a.m. EST: Welcome to Lynn Symansky in the commentator’s booth! We’re all set to go with another Rookie, Mexico’s Daniela Moeguel and Cecelia.

11:04 a.m. EST: Catching up with Leah on her test with A.P. Prime:

11:03 a.m. EST:

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF scored 46.5 for 7th place. A super performance for these Rolex Rookies! #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

Holly Payne Caravella and Santino did a lovely test — 46.8 for 9th place #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

Sydney Conley Elliott all smiles after her #rk3de debut with Cisko A

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

10:50 a.m. EST: Sally Cousins shares her thoughts on Tsunami:

10:48 a.m. EST:

The EN team hard at work… or hardly working? #chinstagram #rk3de

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

10:46 a.m. EST: Into our second break of the day, we’ll pick back up at 11:10 a.m. with Daniela Moguel and Cecelia.

10:45 a.m. EST: Flaxen was super amped by the cheers from the crowd. Hi Ho .. Flaxen? Score of 46.3 for this pair for a solid debut.

Matt

10:40 a.m. EST: Flaxen is strutting his stuff out there. A few things that Gina has pointed out to improve, but overall this is a great debut. And it’s no surprise — this pair is used to being in a big atmosphere.

Flaxen

10:38 a.m. EST: Next up, Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF! He’s got superhero socks on under those boots, no doubt.

10:35 a.m. EST: Some tension for Tsunami towards the end but this is one you won’t want to miss on cross country. They score a 57.8.

Sally Cousins

10:35 a.m. EST:

10:30 a.m. EST: This is “Sue’s” fifth start here in Kentucky. #oldpro

10:29 a.m. EST: Now in the ring are Sally Cousins and her OTTB mare Tsunami.

10:29 a.m. EST:

10:28 a.m. EST: Check out Elisa Wallace and her mustangs showing off in the rain yesterday:

10:27 a.m. EST: Holly Payne Caravella tells Frankie Thieriot that mom Marilyn Payne gets nervous as a spectator when she has to watch both her and Doug at events! #showmomlove

10:26 a.m. EST: Honor Me saw the final short diagonal and tried to take off for home, but Lisa kept a lid on and they’ve officially made their Rolex debut!

10:22 a.m. EST: Here are Rookie rider Sydney Elliott’s thoughts on her test:

10:22 a.m. EST: Yet another Rolex Rookie pair in the ring now: Lisa Fergusson and Honor Me.

10:20 a.m. EST: Holly Payne Caravella looks elated with Santino after her test, and appropriately so as they’ve scored a 46.5 for seventh place! Look at that grin!

Holly 2

10:18 a.m. EST: And how about those Rolex Rookies! Here is Avery’s interview:

10:17 a.m. EST: Hear from Bunnie Sexton as she talks to the media after her test:

10:17 a.m. EST: Selena O’Hanlon rehashes her test with Foxwood High:

10:15 a.m. EST: Santino is a really nice mover. He commands a lot of attention in the ring.

Holly

10:13 a.m. EST: A 62.1 for Leah Lang-Gluscic and a 55.2 for Sydney Conley Elliott. Now in the ring is Holly Payne Caravella and her second ride, Santino.

10:09 a.m. EST: Sydney having a great go for her first four-star test. She’s been working with Will Faudree in the lead-up to this event, and she’s been trending around mid-60 percentage so far.

Sydney

10:05 a.m. EST: In the ring next are another Rolex Rookie pair, Sydney Conley Elliott and Cisko A.

10:04 a.m. EST:

10:03 a.m. EST: Leah looks absolutely thrilled with A.P. after her final salute, to big cheers from her fan club. The scoring is down at the moment so we’ll have her score as soon as possible. In the meantime, look at this and try not to get emotional:

Leah salute

9:59 a.m. EST: A.P. has gotten much stronger in his flatwork and is looking fairly consistent and relaxed in his test.

Leah

9:58 a.m. EST:

9:56 a.m. EST: In next are Leah Lang-Gluscic and A.P. Prime. This pair withdrew after dressage last year and are looking for their first Rolex completion this weekend. Side note, AP is super fun to ride.

9:54 a.m. EST: Lovely test from these two. Selena has been around her fair share of four-stars and Woody has really stepped up to be a top horse for her. A 51.8 for this pair.

Selena 2

9:51 a.m. EST: Selena is focusing on accuracy here and “Woody” is obliging. A lovely picture.

Selena

9:50 a.m. EST: Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High, our first Canadians of the day in the ring now.

9:50 a.m. EST: We love our advertisers!

Screenshot_2

9:48 a.m. EST:

9:46 a.m. EST:

9:35 a.m. EST: Hear Marilyn’s thoughts on her test:

9:23 a.m. EST: Lots of love for a longtime love. Bunnie scores a 71.3. We now go to our first judge’s break of the day and will resume at 9:50 with Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High.

Bunnie

9:22 a.m. EST: Bunnie will likely be a bit disappointed but she rode so quietly and tactfully to get what she could out of “Ecko”. Class act right here, ladies and gents.

9:20 a.m. EST: Bunnie is doing her best to ride a very tense Rise Against. This is definitely his least favorite ride, she’s just trying to get on to cross country!

9:19 a.m. EST:

9:17 a.m. EST: Bunnie Sexton is back from the West Coast with her partner, Rise Against.

9:15 a.m. EST: Marilyn and Demi just #NAILEDIT – Karen O’Connor says this may be their best test ever. Absolutely stunning and a well-deserved 42.5 and second place.

Marilyn 2 9:14 a.m. EST:

9:12 a.m. EST: Lovely start so far for Marilyn and Demi. This pair has taken an different approach to Rolex this year.

Marilyn

9:08 a.m. EST: Marilyn Little and RF Demeter will take the floor now. Look for a solid test from these two.

9:07 a.m. EST:

9:06 a.m. EST: Avery did a superb job on her first four-star test! She scores a 60.5.

9:03 a.m. EST:

 

Doug Payne and Vandiver’s color coordination game is strong #rk3de

 

A photo posted by Eventing Nation (@goeventing) on

9:02 a.m. EST: Avery is also the queen of great saves. Exhibit A

9:01 a.m. EST: This pair has done all of their firsts together, including a trip to Young Riders for both the one- and two-star level. Keep an eye out for her Rolex Rookie profile today!

9:00 a.m. EST: And another Rolex Rookie enters the ring: Avery Klunick and In It To Win It!

9:00 a.m. EST:

8:51 a.m. EST:

8:50 a.m. EST: Little Leo wasn’t a big fan of the sandbox today, lots of exuberance in the canter, but it’s on to the next phase for these two!

8:45 a.m. EST: Fun fact: Flower just knocked over 10 points off of her Rolex score from last year. She earned a 57.2 and a 54.2 in her other two CCI4* starts. We now welcome Great Britain’s Panda Christie to the ring – learn more about her here.

8:44 a.m. EST:

8:43 a.m. EST: Buck looks super pleased with little Flower after a lovely and harmonious test. This is definitely one pair to watch this weekend. 8:38 a.m. EST: Buck Davidson joins us again with Petite Flower. 8:38 a.m. EST:

8:35 a.m. EST And phase one down for LCC Barnaby, who really kept it together and had a few green moments but worked hard for Lillian.

8:32 a.m. EST: Streeeetch!

Lillian

8:32 a.m. EST Karen O’Connor has joined the panel for commentary this morning, alongside John Kyle and Gina Miles. It’s like getting a free dressage lesson! Which is something I desperately need.

8:29 a.m. EST: And we’re underway! LCC Barnaby enters at A. Lillian was a Rolex Rookie not too long ago, and now she’s back with three horses this year.

8:25 p.m. EST: Lillian Heard will bring out the second of her three rides at 8:30 a.m. to kick us off with LCC Barnaby.

Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Watch the Top Five Dressage Tests from Day One at Rolex

The USEF Network has uploaded several tests from the first day of dressage at Rolex, and we’re thrilled to relive the top five tests consisting of Michael Jung, Liz Halliday-Sharp, Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin and Maya Black.

You can read all about the day in our full reports here and here. Also, you can catch play by play action in our morning and afternoon open threads.

Many thanks to the USEF Network for sharing these memorable tests. Don’t forget to tune in to the live stream beginning tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. EST.

Thursday Video from Nupafeed: Catching Up with Courtney Cooper at Rolex

Courtney Cooper and Who's A Star. Photo by Jenni Autry. Courtney Cooper and Who's A Star. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The smile on Nupafeed rider Courtney Cooper’s face after her dressage test with her homebred, Who’s A Star, today was all you needed to see to know how excited she is to be here contesting her first CCI4*. We had to know more about Courtney’s journey to get here to Kentucky, so Samantha Clark caught up with her today to chat about her weekend so far.

Many thanks to Courtney for taking the time to speak with us, and good luck with the rest of your Rookie weekend!

Rolex Riders Break Down Their Dressage Rides

Samantha Clark was out and about today, catching up with riders as they came out of the Rolex Stadium following their dressage tests. She was able to catch up with many riders, including our overnight leader Michael Jung:

And she even got Nox Martin to make an appearance!

Top Day One Quotes from the Rolex Press Conference

Dressage day one top three! Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Dressage day one top three! Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The early leaders gathered in the media center here at Rolex this afternoon to rehash the rides that put them into the top three after the first day of dressage. It’s surely still anyone’s game at this point, with many powerhouses yet to come tomorrow.

However, it was Michael Jung’s day to shine aboard fischerRocana FST, who knocked about five points off of her score from 2015 to lead on a 34.4. She’s got a nine point lead over second placed Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night, and many will be chasing the bar she’s set tomorrow.

As per usual, Michael was complimentary of his horse and says she did so well here last year that he decided to put Kentucky into his plans for this season as he looks ahead to Rio.

Here are some of the top quotes from today’s press conference. You can view the full video below as well.

#RK3DE: WebsiteScheduleLive Scores, Entry List & Ride TimesLive StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s Rolex GuideEN Tailgate InfoTwitterInstagram

On Michael’s decision to come here with fischerRocana again: “I have three really good horses this season and we make a plan in the winter. I think from last year I feel that Rocana likes this competition a lot. She’s very happy in the stables, she traveled more easy than La Biosthetique Sam, for example, and she likes the stadium and the cross country phase, so that’s the reason why I ride her again.”

On Phillip being the first in the ring today: “It’s not always great going first, but when you enter three horses you know you have a pretty good chance of going first. You never know what the scoring’s going to be and I was pleased with the way he went. That’s probably his best four-star score so I was really excited. There’s still another day to go so we’ll see what it looks like at the end of tomorrow.”

On whether or not Phillip thinks he can catch Michael Jung on Mighty Nice tomorrow: “I hope so!”

On today’s rides:

Michael Jung: “I’m very happy about fischerRocana, she did a wonderful test. She traveled very well, she feels very happy in the stables, was very nice to ride the last days and that altogether makes for a good result in the dressage.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp: “Blackie is literally one of the nicest horses — he’s a very nice person. He’s kind of like a big black labrador. I think I got the warm-up right today; it’s all about trying not to get too excited. He tried really hard today. He’s a bigger horse — he’s 17.1 — and he can kind of get away from me in the test a bit, just get kind of long, but today he really tried. We’re starting to get a good partnership now.”

Phillip Dutton: “(Fernhill Fugitive) has really matured. I think if I had the time again I might not have done as much with him as a younger horse and I think it’s taken awhile for him to get stronger and mature. Silva Martin had a big influence on him as well. She took him for quite a few weeks and worked on his flatwork. So I think it’s a whole combination of things that have come together — he’s matured and he’s a very quiet, good-natured horse so he’s pretty easy to teach.”

On how Derek di Grazia’s course looks for Saturday:

Michael Jung: “I think it’s a bit more tough than last year. I think it’s a bit more loops and more hills.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp: “I think the course is challenging enough. We obviously have five water jumps this year, that’s quite different. I think there’s a lot to do at the end of the course and you’re going to need to have a fit horse.”

Phillip Dutton: “It’s sort of what we expected — it’s a big, forward riding course and I think it’s good. If you’re on green horses I think you can still make a good experience for your horse, but if you want to make the time and you want to try and do well I think it’s strong enough to sort everybody out as well.”