Must-Read Quotes from the Cross Country Day Press Conference at #RK3DE

From left: Derek di Grazia, Maxime Livio, Michael Jung, Zara Tindall, Matthew Brown, Erin Sylvester. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The post-cross country press conference at Rolex is always a special event, as we get to really hear what the riders thought of their rides. We compiled some must-read quotes from the top four riders, as well as from the winner of the Land Rover Ride of the Day award, Erin Sylvester, and course designer Derek di Grazia. Read on for more!

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Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Michael Jung:

On how he felt his ride on fischerRocana went: “You never know exactly what happens in every situation; you still make a plan for your ride. I feel in the warm-up fischerRocana was not very perfect feeling with the weather, which makes me very nervous before the start. But she galloped really well and jumped everything very powerful, which gives me a good feeling.”

On what the secret to their success is (at least the parts he will let on about!): “We have a very good partnership and that’s the most important thing in this sport is you know the horse and the horse knows the rider and you trust each other. You have to be very quick in every situation and find a way out of the difficult situations, and in the end everything worked very well and I’m very happy that we are both very healthy and we finished.”

On this year’s course vs. last year: “I think the gallop was a bit nicer, we had a bit more soft turns so the gallop path worked really well. Every course is a bit different so I think this year, maybe a bit more easy, but in the end was really tough to ride. But it was a very nice course and also I like much more the beginning, I think that was much better for the horses to get a bit more time to come in a good rhythm.”

Maxime Livio and Qalao Des Mers. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Maxime Livio:

On how he felt about his first trip around the Bluegrass: “I am super happy with my horse. He starts like he starts every time, very fast, very strong. I’m super happy, exactly what I wanted everywhere. The conditions were very nice, the ground was superb.”

On why he decided to come to Kentucky this year?: “Why not? No, but I wanted to know how my horse traveled by plane.

On whether or not he thinks tomorrow will be a Pau repeat: Glances over at Michael, “Winning all the time must be very boring!”

Zara Tindall and High Kingdom. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Zara Tindall:

On how she felt High Kingdom handled the task at hand today: “I had a great ride. A few years ago, I didn’t do anything out there. I had a great ride, he galloped straight. He was very good through all the combinations and did pretty much what we planned to do all the way around and he kept galloping in the heat — we were a little worried about how he was going to cope with the heat.”

On her reaction to a bit of rain: “I was very happy for the rain last night. I did a little rain dance in my room when I heard it!”

Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Matt Brown:

On his plan for cross country: “My only plan going out was to take each exercise one at a time. I was maybe thinking about taking some options, but after jumping into the Head of the Lake I just realized I just need to trust this horse and know that he’s going to jump every question. I didn’t give a great jump to the table into the Head of the Lake and he already likes to jump a little careful, so we got the four strides there, but he jumped it great. After that combination, I was like ‘Ok, I need to trust that my horse knows what he’s doing,’ and it got easier to do that as we went through the course.”

On an unexpected issue on course: “He unfortunately jumped out of both of his front shoes somewhere before the Head of the Lake, but I think that there was a few jumps where I thought I saw a good distance and he kind of backed up. Knowing now that he didn’t have his front shoes, I think he was probably making some good decisions.”

On how “Flaxen” came out of the day: “I did find it hard to find good ground toward the end of the day when most people had been galloping. He was quite tired at the end, but that horse is nothing if not all heart, so I asked for more and he kept giving it to me. I’m really happy with him.”

Erin Sylvester and Mettraise. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Land Rover Optimum Time Winner Erin Sylvester:

On making the optimum time: “This is her first four-star and I did not go out with a plan to hit the optimum time. At the last big combination, I thought maybe we could do it.”

On how it felt to have a newly minted four-star horse on course: “The conditions were good for her, she likes to have deeper going, it seems to make her more confident and she was great. She definitely had spots where she felt green and not picking up on stuff 100% but she tries very hard to lead the way and digs in after the jumps and loves to gallop away. She came in well and I look forward to jumping her tomorrow.”

Course designer Derek di Grazia:

“I think that there were a lot of really great rides, I think all of these riders here had great days and I want to congratulate all of them for that. I think the horses all looked really good. As Michael has said, in the beginning it gave them a chance to get into a rhythm and then sort of from the Head of the Lake on, you know, you really sort of had to stay on the game. There were continuously things to do from there all the way to the finish. Because of that, I think that’s what in the end made the time a little harder. That’s what I think.”

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