Thursday Recap: Michael Jung Holds the Rolex Lead, 7 Americans in Top 10

Your Rolex top three: Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST, Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch, and Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive. Photo by Jenni Autry. Your Rolex top three: Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST, Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch, and Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The internet had some fun with the scores on the USEF Network live stream this afternoon when an American flag kept appearing next to Michael Jung’s name at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Considering he’s still leading at the conclusion of the first day of dressage on 39.3 with fischerRocana FST, I’m not sure any of us would be too disappointed about that nationality switcheroo.

The top three from the lunch break remain unchanged at the end of the day. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch are in second place on a score of 44.3, followed by Phillip Dutton and four-star first-timer Fernhill Fugitive in third on a score of 47.6. Though we didn’t see a mix up at the top of the leaderboard, several different themes took hold during this afternoon’s tests.

Francis Whittington and Easy Target. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Francis Whittington and Easy Target. Photo by Jenni Autry.

What Might Have Been

Francis Whittington and Easy Target scored 36.2 at Badminton last year and won Blenheim on a score of 38.8. They are more than capable of brilliance in the sandbox and came into Rolex as a pair with plenty of potential to play spoiler. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be today, and they scored 47.6 to sit it fourth place.

He said following the test that they peaked too soon in warm up, and “Smokes” just couldn’t replicate that energy under the judges’ scrutiny. It’s a shame to have that happen on the world stage, but if Saturday’s current forecast for a 90 percent chance of rain holds true, this weekend certainly won’t be a dressage show.

Barb Crabo and Eveready. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Barb Crabo and Eveready. Photo by Jenni Autry.

West Coast, Best Coast

Jolie Wentworth came out swinging as the final test of the day aboard Good Knight, scoring 50.6 to round out the top five and make the West Coast proud. Jolie last competed in a CCI4* at Luhmühlen in 2013, as she took time off last year to welcome her first child with her husband, so it’s a welcome sight to see her name back at this level.

Barb Crabo and Eveready have tried twice to complete Rolex, and they’re back for a third try this year after the horse won the Galway Downs CCI3* last fall. After being spun at the second horse inspection here at 2012, Barb said she didn’t think CCIs were in the cards anymore for “Ready.” But the Galway win made her decide to try one more time; they scored 53.7 today to sit in 10th.

Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless

Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Reign of the Rookies

We have 16 Rolex Rookies competing here this weekend, and we saw very nice tests from the first-timers today, with Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless leading the way on a score of 50.6 to sit in sixth place. Karen O’Connor, who helped Elisa warm up before the test, gave her a big high five leaving the chute and tweeted “nailed it” — high praise coming from a former Rolex winner!

Many of the rookies took a big sigh of relief after leaving the ring, happy to have that part of the debut behind them. It’s tough to gauge how a horse that has never seen this type of atmosphere will react when they experience it for the first time, and all the rookies did a great job of keeping the lid on their horses and keeping their own cool in the sandbox.

Sharon White and Wundermaske. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sharon White and Wundermaske. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Things of Note

Sharon White was definitely breathing a sigh of relief after her test with Wundermaske, which improved 14 points from last year, when “Patch” decided he wanted nothing to do with the flapping flags and buzzing crowds in the stadium. She has been diligently working on exposing him to bigger atmospheres, and it’s absolutely paying off; their score of 57.2 ties them for 14th.

On the flip side, the atmosphere proved to be too much for Cape Town today. After Jennie Jarnstrom tried to salvage the test several times in the first two minutes, the bell rang to excuse her from the ring. You hate to see that happen to someone after the riders work so hard to get here; better luck next time, Jennie.

Angela Gryzwinski and Novelle. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Angela Gryzwinski and Novelle. Photo by Jenni Autry.

What’s Next?

It’s difficult to imagine that Michael Jung won’t be sitting at the top of the leaderboard again tomorrow; the question remains whether it will be aboard fischerRocana FST or La Biosthetique Sam FBW. He’ll have to go through last year’s winners William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero first, not to mention numerous strong American dressage combinations.

The press conference is underway now, and we’ll have a full report on that for you next, with comments from Michael Jung, Laine Ashker and Phillip Dutton. Stay tuned for much more from Rolex, and click here to catch up on all our coverage from the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Go Eventing.

Numbers to Take Away

  • Michael Jung was the only rider who scored over 70% for all three judges.
  • Laine Ashker was the only other rider to average over 70%.
  • Only four riders sit within 10 points of Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST.
  • Werner Geven and Vandiver had the largest spread of judges’ marks on Thursday, scoring 62.17%, 61.83%, and 54.17%.
  • The judges agreed the most on Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime, with only 0.34% separating all three judges percentage marks.

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