Stage Set for Magic Mike’s Historic 4th Win at Kentucky

Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

You just can’t get bet against Magic Mike. At the conclusion of cross country day at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, three-time consecutive winners Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST once again top the leaderboard.

Michael and Rocana, a 13-year-old German Sport Horse (Ituango xx X Rose II, by Carismo) owned by Brigitte and Joachim Jung, completed Derek di Grazia’s course 1 second over the optimum time to move into the lead in their quest to take a historic fourth four-star win at the venue.

With dry weather and perfect going today, 11 combinations caught the optimum time of 11 minutes, 3 seconds, which is more than the last three runnings of the event combined when rain fell on cross country day. We also saw a 70% clear jumping rate, which EquiRatings noted is the highest at the venue in 10 years.

Chris Burton and Nobilis 18. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Chris Burton and Nobilis 18, an 11-year-old Hanoverian (Nobre xx X Lilli, by Lemon xx) owned by Sue Lawson and Carolyn Townsend, jumped a beautiful clear 1 second inside the time to move up one spot on the leaderboard and sit in second place on their dressage score of 27.9.

Oliver Townend was the only rider in the field to complete two horses within the optimum time. Cooley Master Class is the highest-placed four-star first-timer in the field tonight thanks to coming home 3 seconds inside the time. The 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Ramiro B X The Swallow, by Master Imp) owned by Angela Hislop moved up from fifth to third on 28.7.

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Oliver said MHS King Joules, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Ghareeb X Gowran Lady, by Cavalier Royal), ran away with him a bit in delivering a speedy clear 5 seconds inside the time, which moved him from eighth up to equal fourth on 31.3.

Lynn Symansky and Donner, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred (Gorky Park X Smart Jane, by Smarten) owned by The Donner Syndicate, came home 4 seconds inside the time to jump up to equal fourth and lead the Land Rover/USEF National CCI4* Championship.

Overnight dressage leaders Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous,  a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold X Richardia, by Lario) owned by Phoebe and Michael Manders and Jacqueline Mars, added 8.0 time penalties to slip to sixth place on 32.8.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg, an 11-year-old Trakehner (Windfall X Thabana, by Buddenbrock) owned by Christine Turner, added 2.0 time penalties in the horse’s four-star debut and slipped down one spot on the leaderboard to 33.2.

Phillip Dutton piloted both of his horses into the top 10 on the exact same score of 33.7 to tie himself for eighth place. Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide (Asca X Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z) owned by the Z Partnership, hit bang on the optimum time in his first four-star to move from 16th up to eighth on 33.7. I’m Sew Ready, a 14-year-old KWPN (Lupicor X Jarda, by Elcaro) owned by John and Kristine Norton’s I’m Sew Ready picked up 1.2 time penalties to move from 13th up to eighth.

Lauren Kieffer and Jacqueline Mars’ Vermiculus, an 11-year-old Anglo Arabian (Sazeram X Wake Me Gently), jumped clear with 3.6 time penalties to slip four spots on the leaderboard to 10th on 34.8.

Sharon White and Cooley On Show. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Seven horses moved up more than 15 places after cross country. Sharon White and her own Cooley On Show, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Ricardo Z X Jogantina, by Grand d’Espagne), made the time to jump from 23rd to 11th on 35.6.

Erin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred (Azamore X Slamy) owned by Frank McEntee, jumped around five seconds inside the time to move up from 25th to 12th place on their dressage score of 35.8.

Will Coleman and Tight Lines, an 11-year-old French Thoroughbred (Turgeon X Merindole, by Tel Quel) owned by the Conair Syndicate, stormed around 18 seconds inside — the second fastest round of the day — to move from 32nd up to 17th place.

Last year at Kentucky, Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality had the fastest cross country round and finished 20 seconds inside the time. Today they once again delivered the fastest round of the day and finished 20 seconds inside the time, which moved them from 35th up to 18th place on 40.2.

EN’s Biggest Smile of the Day Award goes to four-star first-timers Sara Gumbiner and Polaris, who jumped clear with 14 time penalties in their debut at the level to sit in 30th place after cross country.

Sara Gumbiner and Polaris. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

What the Numbers Say

EN’s data analyst Maggie Deatrick crunched numbers throughout the day. The field averaged 15.58 seconds over the optimum time. Compare this to 2015 (42.24 seconds), 2016 (53.45 seconds), and 2017 (46.57 seconds) and we had a very fast course today.

The completion rate today was 83.7%, comparable to 2016 when 87.5% completed and above the 64.8% of 2015 and 73.7% of 2017. The clear XC rate rises to 69.7% though, above 2015 (46.5%), 2016 (62.5%), and 2017 (45.6%).

Four pairs posted times faster than their fastest CCI3* or fastest CCI4* rounds — Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class, Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready, Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime, and Tamie Smith and Wembley.

Ten horses (I’m Sew Ready, A.P. Prime, Cooley On Show, Captain Jack, Nobilis 18, Landmark’s Monte Carlo, Honor Me, Landioso, Share Option, Tactical Maneuver) bettered their CCI4* personal best cross country time.

Kelly Prather and Truly Wiley. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

The biggest movers of the day were Kelly Prather and Truly Wiley (41st to 21st) and Woodge Fulton and Captain Jack (44th to 24th), each moving up 20 places thanks to making the optimum time.

Problems were evenly spread throughout Derek di Grazia’s course. Hawley Bennett-Award retired Jollybo at fence 4A, the rails jumping into the Water Park, when the mare slammed on the brakes. Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie and Ellie MacPhail O’Neal and RF Eloquence both retired after a glance off at 6D, the open corner at the Park Question.

Allie Knowles and Sound Prospect and Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights both had runouts at the brush corner at 10B in the Rolex Grand Slam Challenge. Joe Meyer had a stop with Clip Clop at 13A, the log stump at Pete’s Hollow, and retired soon after. Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac had a stop at 15A, the first of the angled logs at the Fallen Trees.

The Land Rover Head of the Lake caused its fair share of trouble. Holly Jacks-Smither fell from More Inspiration at 18B, the brush corner in the water, when the horse pecked on landing and she couldn’t quite hang out. Lillian Heard jumped to the right of the flag at the brush corner at 18B with LCC Barnaby to pick up 20 jumping penalties.

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 had a runout at 18B and another later on course at 21D, the second of the angled hedges at the Normandy Bank. Sir Oberon crawled all over the brush arrowhead at 19B at the Head of the Lake and sent Ellen Doughty-Hume flying into the water.

Three combinations — Buck Davidson and Park Trader, Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border, and Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights — had runouts at 26b, the Mighty Moguls.

Three riders fell in all, with Allie Knowles parting ways with Sound Prospect at 21D at the Normandy Bank. No horse falls occurred today, and there are no reported horse or rider injuries to give us a very safe day of cross country.

Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Looking Ahead to Tomorrow

No horse and rider combination have ever won four times at the same four-star venue, so Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST stand on the threshold of history tonight. Now they face the tremendous task of jumping clean over Richard Jeffery’s show jumping course tomorrow. In their seven CCI4* completions, Rocana has jumped clear on the final day only twice. She is liable to a pole, which she cannot afford to still win — and for that matter she cannot afford a single time penalty.

As we’ve been discussing all year, the removal of the dressage multiplier means scores will be much more tightly bunched in the jumping phases. After cross country, one rail separates the top five. Two rails separate the top 10. Every pole down tomorrow will prove incredibly costly in the final standings.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, the final horse inspection is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. EST, with show jumping starting at 1 p.m. EST.

As is EN tradition on cross country day at Kentucky, we have been dealing with sporadic server crashes throughout the day. Please bear with us as the chinchillas continue to patch the servers back together. Stay turned for much more from #LRK3DE, including quotes from the press conference. Go Eventing.

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