Cross Country Powerhouses of Rolex

Hooray, it’s cross country day! The cross country consists of 28 numbered obstacles (45 total jumping efforts when taking all the direct routes) across 6,340 meters of the Kentucky Horse Park. The horses will have to cover the distance under the optimum time of 11 minutes, 17 seconds, or they will incur time penalties, 0.4 added to their score for each second they are over. For a full preview of the course, check out our course preview here.

Derek di Grazia of the United States is the course designer for here at the KHP since 2011. Derek di Grazia currently designs many courses in North America, including both Bromont CCI3* and Fair Hill CCI3*, two big qualifiers for this event. He has also been designated as the course designer for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The horses listed below fall into two different categories: either horses a bit down the order after dressage who are supremely consistently clear and fast across the country, or horses currently ranked near the top who are very fast when they do run clear across the country. With the weather being hot but clear, there will almost certainly be a larger percentage of horses who make the time compared to the past two years.

At a four-star level, a cross country run that is clear and inside the time could potentially move you up many places. Here are our projections of horses who will make the biggest moves up the leaderboard tomorrow…or maintain their place at the top.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, Live Scores, Course Preview, EN Tailgate, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, How to Watch Live, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

James Alliston and Parker. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

James Alliston (GBR) and Parker: The trailblazer today is also the master of the Kentucky Horse Park, the indomitable Parker. This pair has completed nine CCI3/4* cross country rounds clean and inside the time, three of which were at Rolex. This pair has another two Rolex completions as well, both under ten seconds above optimum. One of them was from last year, where no one made the time. There is no surer bet today than Parker and James for a pair who will end the day still sitting on their dressage score.

Ride Time: 10:00 a.m. EST

Will Coleman and Obos O’Reilly. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Will Coleman (USA) and OBOS O’Reilly: These two don’t have a recent FEI record, but prior to OBOS O’Reilly’s hiatus, they were one of the fastest pairs on the circuit. Their last three consecutive runs were all clear and inside the time, including their four-star debut at Rolex in 2014 and a run at Blenheim in 2015.

Ride Time: 10:16 a.m. EST

Maxime Livio and Qalao Des Mers. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

Maxime Livio (FRA) and Qalao des Mers: Our French visitors have a short but sweet record demonstrating their capability across the country. Six total three- and four-star runs, four of them clear and inside the time. The only shows these two have had time penalties at was Qalao des Mers’ move up to the CIC3* level, and the infamously muddy World Equestrian Games at Caen.

Ride Time: 11:08 a.m. EST

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Phillip Dutton (USA) and Fernhill Fugitive: Fernhill Fugitive has quietly gotten better and better behind his higher profile stablemates over the past couple years, and last year was actually the highest place of Phillip’s rides after cross country. As trailblazer last year, Fernhill Fugitive posted one of the fastest rounds of the day, making time look obtainable on a day it was not meant to be.

Ride Time: 11:52 a.m. EST

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Clark Montgomery (USA) and Loughan Glen: Our leaders after dressage tend to enjoy either feast or famine in the second phase; either they go clear and fast and maintain their lead or they have a blip, adding that and time penalties to put them out of contention. With an average of 2.4 time penalties over CCI courses when running clear, they could have a couple time penalties and still maintain their lead.

Ride Time: 12:28 p.m. EST

Hannah Sue Burnett and Under Suspection. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Hannah Sue Burnett (USA) and Under Suspection: Although this is Under Suspection’s first four star, she is incredibly seasoned at the three-star level, having three CCI3* under her belt with two riders. With Hannah Sue, this dynamic duo averaged four seconds under the optimum time in their two CCI3* starts last year.

Ride Time: 12:40 p.m. EST

Michael Jung and fischerRocana. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

Michael Jung (GER) and fischerRocana FST: Instead of talking about all the times Rocana has made the time, let’s talk about the few times she hasn’t at the CCI level. First, the infamous World Equestrian Games in France. She was two seconds over the optimum at Rolex last year, the fastest on a day when no one made the time. And she was one second over a Pau in the fall. That’s it.

Ride Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Doug Payne (USA) and Vandiver: When their partnership first commenced, Doug rode Vandiver conservatively, opting to get to know the horse at a slower pace through their first four-star together last spring. After Rolex, he pushed the pedal to the medal, and they’ve averaged only three seconds over optimum in their FEI events in the last twelve months.

Ride Time: 1:24 p.m. EST

Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Phillip Dutton (USA) and Mr. Medicott: Phillip and Mr. Medicott have two CCI4* runs together. In the first, they had one lone time penalty at Pau in 2013. The following spring, Mr. Medicott and Phillip made the time at Rolex. A clear run inside the time would be a fitting finale to this champion’s career.

Ride Time: 1:44 p.m. EST

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram