Nailed it — that’s the best way to describe Allie Knowles’ dressage test with Last Call in their four-star debut this morning on Day 2 of dressage here at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The pair scored a 43.3 to move into second place with a fluid, beautiful test. The crowd was really pulling for Allie and Last Call, and everyone groaned when they missed their final change before the halt. But that bobble doesn’t tarnish this test in the least — it was just fantastic. The crowd gave them a huge cheer and well-deserved applause when they left the ring, and Allie seemed just thrilled with the score. By laying down such an excellent dressage test, Allie puts herself into a fantastic position for the rest of the weekend. This pair was very competitive at The Fork, placing sixth in the Advanced division, and has all the tools they need to put in a clean trip cross-country trip tomorrow.
Mary King and Fernhill Urco also put in a lovely test to move into third place on a 43.7. This horse is an incredible mover, and Mary knows exactly how to squeeze the marks out of each movement. There were no major bobbles in the test, and Mary gave a big wave to the crowd upon leaving the arena. Look for her to put in a double-clear cross-country trip tomorrow to hold her place at the top of the leaderboard. We also saw a wonderful, obedient test from James Alliston and Jumbo’s Jake, who kicked things off as the first pair of the morning. They scored a 51.5 to move into eighth thanks to very accurate riding from James. In my preview, I predicted we would see the best result this weekend from Parker, but Jake might prove me wrong yet; this was really a lovely test. Jake came here to Rolex in 2011, but didn’t make it around the cross-country course. James will be looking for redemption with this horse tomorrow.
Meghan O’Donoghue has to be thrilled with her first CCI4* dressage test with Pirate; the pair scored a 58 to move into 15th. Pirate was definitely intrigued by the large crowd, but Meghan held him together well and should be very proud of that performance on such a big stage. We also saw Rolex first-timers Austin O’Connor and Ringwood Mississippi in this first group of riders. This is a stunning, big black gelding who lacked impulsion throughout the test, but still looked relaxed and obedient. Austin and Ringwood Mississippi are sitting in 21st place on a 60.7. Michelline Jordan and Irish Diamonds, who are also making their Rolex debut, rode last in the first group of the morning. They lost some marks for accuracy, but should be very pleased for completing their first four-star test, scoring a 60.2 to tie for 19th place with Sally Cousins and Tsunami. Ronald Zabala-Goetschel and Wise Equestrian Master Rose will start us off for the second group of rides before the lunch break.