The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is an important competition on the North American calendar in any year, but it is all the more critical in a championship year. As a U.S. selection trial for the 2018 World Equestrian Games at Tryon, all eyes will be glued to Derek di Grazia’s cross country course come Saturday.
This year’s course runs in reverse direction, which places many of the familiar combinations later on the track. The first three fences — a log called Red White and Bluegrass at fence 1, the Market Table at fence 2, and the Double Brush at fence 3 — are galloping efforts to settle horses and riders into a rhythm, and the terrain has a steady uphill climb to start.
The first combination comes at fence 4ABC, the Water Park, with horses jumping in over a set of rails before making a sharp left-hand turn to jump a boat in the water, then galloping on to a second boat as the C element. Fence 5 is the Whiskey Barrel Table.
The next combination comes at the coffin at fence 6ABCD, the Park Question. After jumping in over a hanging rail at A, horses and riders will navigate down a sharp slope to the ditch at B, then turn right to jump over a house at C. The biggest challenge by far will then be quickly turning left to jump a massive right-pointed open corner as the D element. There is absolutely no margin of error at the corner, and finding the right line and holding it will be all important.
Fence 7 is the always impressive Keepers Brush, then it’s on to a massive open oxer at Cora’s Crossing at fence 8, before the Ditch Brush at fence 9.
The next major question comes at the second water complex on course at fence 10ABC, the Rolex Grand Slam Challenge. Horses and riders will drop in over a rolltop at the A element, then gallop out of the water before turning right to jump a right-pointed brush corner at B and kicking on to a double brush at C.
Fence 11, the Picnic Table, starts a steady uphill climb to the mound complex at the furthest point of the course at fences 12 and 13. Pete’s Hollow, named in honor of chief course builder Mick Costello’s bother, begins with a massive table at fence 12 and then a very steep uphill climb to a narrow stump at fence 13A. Riders will then navigate back down the mound to a left-pointed brush corner at 13B.
Fence 14 brings the second open oxer on course, the Loblolly Pine Rails, which then leads to a combination of two angled logs set on mounds at fence 15AB, the Fallen Trees.
Fence 16, the Cedar Lodge, is set on a downhill slope that leads to the Waterview Cabin at fence 17 and then the famous Land Rover Head of the Lake at fences 18 and 19. The direct route has riders drop in over a brush at 18A, then kick on to a left-pointed brush corner at 18B. Fence 19 requires riders to turn sharply right to jump a double brush at 19A, then gallop back into the water to an arrowhead brush at 19B.
Fence 20 is a new Trakehner, and then it’s on to the Normandy Bank at fence 21ABCD. Horses and riders will jump up the bank at 21A, bounce over the goose at 21B, then jump off the bank and turn left to a combination of two angled brushes set on one stride as the C and D elements.
The Stepped Table at fence 22 leads to the fourth and final water complex on course at fence 23, the Frog Pond. Horses and riders will jump in over a table at 23A, splash through the water and then jump a left-pointed corner at 23B.
The Victory Brush at fence 24 and the Wattle and Daub Cottage at fence 25 lead to the Mighty Moguls at fence 26AB. Horses and riders will jump the brush at A and then navigate the undulating terrain before jumping a sharply angled brush at B. Once again, there is little room for error at B, and this will almost certain catch out pairs late on course.
The final combination comes at fence 27AB, the Cabins and Boathouse. Riders will jump the cabin at the A element before turning right to jump a massive table set on an angle over a ditch. This is far from a let-up fence late on the course, and horses and riders will need gas left in the tank here. Fence 28, the Lucky Horseshoe, is the final jump on course.
Derek di Grazia’s course is 6,295 meters in length with an optimum time set at 11 minutes, 3 seconds. It is beautifully presented, and all credit goes to builders Mick Costello, Tyson Rementer, and Levi Ryckewaert, as well as chief course decorators Sheila Woerth and Rita Boggs and the 100+ volunteers who worked on decorating the course. Go Eventing.