We’re now entering the second day of competition at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, which means another full day of fancy prancing. Although we saw quite a few phenomenal horses yesterday (and you can view the results here), there’s a higher volume of must-watch tests today.
The competitors will be performing the 2017 FEI CCI Four-Star Test A, which is brand new for this year. This will put old favorites and Rolex Rookies on a totally level playing field as they navigate through the test for the first time. Since Rolex is the first four-star to be held each year, no one has yet seen how the test rides in competition yet. Check here for a summary in all the ways in which this new test differs from the old.
Judging the competitors will be Christina Klingspor of Sweden, who presides over the ground jury. Nick Burton of Great Britain and David Lee of Ireland join her as members of the ground jury.
FRIDAY, MORNING SESSIONS
Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Fernhill By Night: Right off the bat we’re starting with a trio of can’t-miss rides, so don’t be late to the Kentucky Horse Park this morning! Fernhill By Night is always a heavy hitter on the flat and is one of the few U.S. horses to regularly lay down sub-40 scores. Although they haven’t yet hit that mark at the four-star level yet, Fernhill By Night and Liz have hit the 30s at the three-star level four times in the past three years, with a low score of 36.1 at Breda CIC3* in 2015.
Aiming for: Top 3
Ride time: 9 a.m. EST
Phillip Dutton (USA) and Fernhill Fugitive: Fernhill Fugitive really started hitting his stride in 2015, stringing together a series of eight consecutive FEI starts with scores in the 40s. Last year at Rolex, he laid down a 43.1 as one of the first horses to go, and although his form hasn’t been quite as on point this spring, there’s good reason to believe he could be competitive.
Aiming for: Top 5
Ride Time: 9:08 a.m. EST
Buck Davidson (USA) and Copper Beach: The strongest of Buck Davidson’s three rides on the flat, Copper Beach has started gaining more consistency lately, with scores predictably in the 40s. In his very last prep event for Rolex, Copper Beach had a breakthrough, breaking the 40s mark and laying down a personal best of 38.7 at the Chattahoochee Hills CIC3*.
Aiming for: Top 5
Ride Time: 9:16 a.m. EST
Clark Montgomery (USA) and Loughan Glen: Surprise! Loughan Glen and Clark Montgomery are good on the flat. No, but really they are considered one of the most competitive pairs in the world on the flat. However, Glen has struggled a bit with consistency lately, meaning his scored have vacillated from a personal best of 32.2 at Pine Top CIC3* earlier this winter up into the 40s. For any other pair a low 40s is a great day, but these two are capable putting in a score that would rank on the all-time leaderboard of four-star dressage tests.
Aiming for: The lead
Ride Time: 10:32 a.m. EST
Kim Severson (USA) and Cooley Cross Border: After coming out swinging in his debut at the three-star level with what is still his personal best score of 41.3 at the 2015 edition of Plantation Field CIC3*, Cooley Cross Border was slowly creeping up in scoring with every FEI run. However, Kim seems to have pressed the reset button in his final CIC3* at The Fork, plummeting their score from low 50s down to 43.7. It’s anyone’s guess how the atmosphere will affect this precocious horse in his four-star debut.
Aiming for: Top 10
Ride Time: 11:36 a.m. EST
Zara Tindall (GBR) and High Kingdom: High Kingdom has been around a long time, and when he laid down one of the worst scores of his career at Aachen last summer after a long layoff, it was tough not to wonder if this might be the end. But Zara and High Kingdom proved that was far from reality when they executed one of the best scores of their three- and four-star career, a 43.1, at Belton CIC3* just a few weeks ago.
Aiming for: Top 10
Ride Time: 11:44 a.m. EST
Michael Jung (GER) and fischerRocana FST: In case you have been living under a rock, there’s this German guy who is pretty good on the flat. And he’s riding this horse who is pretty good on the flat. In 2015 and 2016, fischerRocana FST strung together five straight tests in a row that scored under 36, four of them under 35. Finally, at the end of 2016, there was a weakness: a 43.8 at Pau CCI4*. Which horse will show up today?
Aiming for: Top 2
Ride Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
FRIDAY, AFTERNOON SESSIONS
Tim Price (NZL) and Ringwood Sky Boy: This horse has a lot of talent but is less consistent than some of the others on this list. With scores as low as 38.7 at a four-star, he can certainly throw it down on the right day. But he also regularly ranges up into the high 40s and even occasionally the 50s on a bad day. With some luck (and the universe owes Tim Price some of that after an abysmal 2016), we could see these two at the top of the leaderboard.
Aiming for: Top 5
Ride Time: 2:02 p.m. EST
Phillip Dutton (USA) and Mr. Medicott: Realistically, these two are not going to crack the top unless they have a really stellar day. Their best score as a pair came at Pau CCI4* in 2013 with a 44.2, but they more regularly scored in the higher 40s. Mr. Medicott has been out of the game for a while, and in his only recent start he scored a 54.7 at The Fork CIC3*. But regardless of what these two score, this test is a must-watch as we witness the end of an era with a horse whose career ranges all the way back to the Hong Kong Olympics.
Aiming for: Top 15
Ride Time: 3:04 p.m. EST