Jog day at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is upon us! With the first horse inspection at 3 p.m. this afternoon and dressage kicking off tomorrow, the EN team is ready to make our picks for horses and riders we think will stand out in seven categories: Big Winner, Top American, Top Canadian, Best Rookie, Spoiler Alert, Top Thoroughbred and Best Mare.
Jenni Autry: Yes, Michael Jung is probably going to win again. But I’m also cheering for Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy. They’ve hit the 30s twice in dressage at the CCI4* level and did some pure show jumping in Spain over the winter. Primed and ready for a big performance? I think yes.
Samantha Clark: Michael Jung, duh!
Maggie Deatrick: Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST
Abby Powell: I mean, how can I not say Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST?
Kate Samuels: Maxime Livio and Qalao des Mers, because I fell a little in love with Maxime at Pau a few years ago, and they already proved that they can best The Terminator.
Sally Spickard: Hard to bet against Michael Jung, as usual. As much as I’d like to buck the trend, I have to go with the Queen herself.
Leslie Threlkeld: Do I dare say Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST AGAIN? Yes. Yes, I do.
Leslie Wylie: I had 600 “W.W.MJ.D.” wristbands made to give out at the EN cross country tailgate party on Saturday, so I’ll leave it at that.
Jenni Autry: Phillip Dutton has three chances to take his fifth USEF CCI4* National Championship Title.
Samantha Clark: Clark Montgomery
Maggie Deatrick: Hannah Sue Burnett and Under Suspection
Abby Powell: This is a tough one, but if I have to pick I’ll go with Buck Davidson on Copper Beach. This horse can get good marks in dressage and showed that he can skip around a four-star course last year. Buck is gonna to be going for it.
Kate Samuels: This question always makes me nervous, but I’m choosing Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border. This horse is doing his first four-star, but he’s completely ridiculous and Kim is on fiyah lately!
Sally Spickard: I’m going to go with Doug Payne and Vandiver on this one. These two have really made their mark on the sport, and I just have a feeling that this could very easily be their weekend.
Leslie Threlkeld: I abstain from answering this question. I don’t want to jinx my pick!
Leslie Wylie: Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen! We know this partnership can hang tough with the very best in the world, and I can’t wait to see them bring it on the bluegrass this week.
Jenni Autry: Foxwood High has looked fantastic this spring and Selena O’Hanlon knows how to throw down when it really counts. Also keep an eye on Bentley’s Best with Jessica Phoenix. He’s a four-star first-timer but a very exciting horse.
Samantha Clark: Jessica Phoenix
Maggie Deatrick: Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High
Abby Powell: Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High. This pair has put their nose to the grindstone over the winter and have been rewarded with excellent placings this spring. I think they’ll be peaking at just the right time!
Kate Samuels: Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High. I feel like they can fly a little under the radar, but produce really solid results.
Sally Spickard: Well, duh. Coach Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo! Enough said.
Leslie Threlkeld: Jessica Phoenix. Three good horses, three good chances.
Leslie Wylie: Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High have one of the most rock-solid relationships in the business, and they’ve come out guns blazing this spring.
Jenni Autry: Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude delivered a personal best performance last year in the Under 25 CCI3* at Bramham. They’ve proven they can rise to the occasion under pressure, and I’m expecting them to do that once again in their four-star debut.
Samantha Clark: Caroline Martin
Maggie Deatrick: Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration
Abby Powell: Caroline Martin — it’s hard to believe she’s still a Rookie.
Kate Samuels: Caroline Martin, easy.
Sally Spickard: I have followed Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna since they were competing Training level at AECs in 2013, my first event as an EN journalist. To see them climb the ranks together is true proof of hard work paying off, and I’d love nothing more than to see them make a statement this weekend.
Leslie Threlkeld: Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna. There’s not much more endearing than a young rider bringing a family friend’s homebred through the levels and hosting a good old fashioned bake sale to help fund her trip to the big leagues.
Leslie Wylie: I’ve been taking notes from Jenny Caras since she was about 13 years old. Poised both in and out of the saddle, I can’t wait to watch her and Fernhill Fortitude tackle their first four-star.
Jenni Autry: Hannah Sue Burnett and Under Suspection. They delivered top-three finishes at both Rebecca Farm CCI3* and Fair Hill CCI3* last year. The mare is strong in all three phases and more than ready to step up to her first CCI4*.
Samantha Clark: Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border
Maggie Deatrick: Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen
Abby Powell: Maxime Livio with Qalao des Mers have already given Michael Jung a run for their money overseas — he’ll be looking to do the same on this side of the pond.
Kate Samuels: Ringwood Sky Boy and Tim Price. They didn’t have a great time at the Olympics due to an unlucky slip, but this horse has been in the top 13 of all of his other four-stars, including a second and a fourth at Burghley. Don’t bet against them.
Sally Spickard: I am a big Copper Beach fan, and also a big Buck Davidson fan, so I’m going to pick these two as my dark horse pair, even though there should be no discounting them. They’ve already had a solid season; this could just be the icing on the cake of a fabulous spring.
Leslie Threlkeld: Sharon White and Cooley On Show. I don’t think anyone’s expecting it, but I do think it could happen. They won’t have the top dressage score, but they’ve never had a cross country jump penalty as a pair, they can run for time when they need to and their show jumping has only improved in the last year.
Leslie Wylie: Never underestimate the French dudes. Maxime Livio and Qalao des Mers aren’t going to let Michael Jung take that Rolex home without a fight.
Jenni Autry: Petite Flower. The fact that she’s a Bruce Davidson homebred surely has to bring her good luck at this venue!
Samantha Clark: Tight Lines
Maggie Deatrick: Steady Eddie
Abby Powell: Never OutFoxed
Kate Samuels: Steady Eddie. He’s a cross country machine.
Sally Spickard: Petite Flower. Flower power, baby.
Leslie Threlkeld: Truly Wiley
Leslie Wylie: Confession — I’ve seen the band Phish, like, several dozen times in concert. For many years I had a Phish patch glued to my cross country vest. Every day I am tortured by the fantasy of quitting my job to follow them around on tour. As such, my money is on Will Coleman and Tight Lines AKA “Phish.”
Jenni Autry: fischerRocana FST. If she wins she will join the great Winsome Adante as the only horse to win Rolex three times.
Samantha Clark: fischerRocana FST
Maggie Deatrick: fischerRocana FST
Abby Powell: All hail Fischerrocana FST!
Kate Samuels: OK, Michael, I’ll give this one to you. Fischerroccana FST.
Sally Spickard: All hail Queen Roxy.
Leslie Threlkeld: Fischerrocana FST of course.
Leslie Wylie: fischerRocana aside, my favorite double-girlpower combination might be Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance. Go “Blue Eyes”!