Sally Spickard
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Sally Spickard


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About Sally Spickard

Sally Spickard is a Korean adoptee living in San Diego, California. Sally joined the Eventing Nation team in 2013 and has subsequently written for Noelle Floyd, Heels Down Mag, and other publications both in and out of the equestrian world. Sally is an eventing fan through and through and enjoys telling the stories of riders who are not well-represented within equestrian media.

Latest Articles Written

Vote for the VIP Equestrian LRK3DE Top Dog Winner

The always popular Top Dog at LRK3DE contest has come and gone and we’re pleased to bring you this year’s finalists! Whether you watched at home or were lucky enough to be on site as a groom, owner or volunteer, there were plenty of dogs also following along with the Kentucky action. The winner of this year’s Top Dog contest will receive a VIP Equestrian saddle pad, which you can learn much more about here.

Let’s get to our finalist entries! To vote, please use the poll at the bottom! We’ll close the poll on Friday, April 30 at 5 p.m. EST.

Bear, submitted by Breanna Nordseth:

Bear practicing his dressage judging. Submitted by Breanna Nordseth.

Rey, submitted by Kristen Kanicki:

Rey – submitted by Kristen Kanicki


Willard the Irish “Floof”hound.

Flynn, submitted by Kerri Lynn:

Flynn the “Wayward Weiner”. Submitted by Kerri Lynn.

Wednesday News & Notes from Haygain

Last week, Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE) announced its new scholarship, the Ever So Sweet Scholarship, in partnership with the USEA Foundation, Edy Rameika and Sara and Brian Murphy. This scholarship, which will provide the opportunity to train at Sara and Brian’s Overlook Farm in Berryville, Va. for three months, includes a living stipend, housing and a proper education in the workings of a professional program. The group at SEE has been working hard to create opportunities for more riders to make inroads as equestrians, and this is one step forward in the right direction. To learn more about the Ever So Sweet scholarship, click here.

U.S. Weekend Preview:

Barnstaple South H.T.: [Website]

Fresno County Horse Park H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times] [Volunteer]

River Glen Spring H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status]

Waredaca H.T.: [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Show Photographer] [Volunteer] [Volunteer]

Wednesday Reading List:

Now here’s something pretty cool. We talk a lot about the idea of opportunity and bringing it to underserved and underrepresented populations. Student riders at the University of Maryland – Baltimore teamed up to begin offering riding lessons at The City Ranch in Baltimore. This program is intended to help more young riders learn about horses and horsemanship, and with the supplement of riding lessons it’s one more way for someone to get “the bug” and look for other opportunities to stay around horses. More on this later after I do some more digging!

Diversity is more than just a buzzword. Some barns, such as Warrenton, Va.’s White Oak Stables, have tried to find more ways to be active allies to equestrians of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Through her efforts to provide some equipment, scholarship opportunities, and just the chance to learn how to ride, White Oak Stables owner Greta “Jade” Krafsig has prioritized the fostering of an inclusive community. You can read more about Jade’s incredible work here.

Looking for a clinician to book? Learn about the background and teaching philosophies of the latest USEA featured clinician, Daryl Kinney.

Many riders competing at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event last week (how was it already last week?) are big fans of Haygain – and there’s a reason why! I’ve been seeing more and more Haygain steamers popping up on my social media feeds, in both large and small, amateur and professional programs. Read more about the Kentucky riders who use Haygain here.

Wednesday Video Break:

Just because the round was just so good, watch Tamie Smith and Mai Baum tackle the CCI5* cross country at LRK3DE:

Make It a Hat Trick: Oliver Townend Takes Third Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Title

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmore Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

He’ll take three, please! Great Britain’s Oliver Townend meant business when he sent in his two entries for this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian, and he sealed the deal aboard the horse that had yet to claim a victory (or make a trip) here: Angela Hislop, Karyn Schuter and Val Ryan’s Ballaghmor Class (Courage II – Kilderry Place). Today he equals Germany’s Michael Jung as the second rider in Kentucky history to win the event three times in a row.

As is typical on Sunday afternoon during Kentucky, you could hear a pin drop in Rolex Stadium as the standings ticked down and the rails continued to fall. As was the theme this morning in the CCI4*-S, Steve Stephen’s track tested the horses fresh off an equally trying cross country track – as such, just seven riders of the 44 remaining starters produced double clear rounds.

This meant Oliver Townend entered the ring under an immense amount of pressure. This isn’t something he’s unfamiliar with – he’s not had a rail to spare in all three of these Kentucky wins, and each time he delivered a clear round inside the time. When asked about the pressure, it was clear that Oliver all but embraces it.

“Tim has me under pressure every week in England,” he joked. “We’re the biggest pain in each others’ backsides…it’s very competitive in England so you kind of get used to the feeling. You can never write these guys off.”

Oliver Townend Ballaghmor Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“Of course I’d have loved them all to drop a rail,” he grinned. “But look, it’s just what’s so special about our sport, that tense finish and no margin for error and I think that’s what got everyone so excited at home. I don’t think between us that we could have credited a better finale so it’s been a wonderful day for all of us.”

Ballaghmor Class, who has historically been known to knock a pole or two, had no plans of keeping in line with history, though and jumped a classical clear round to cement Oliver’s third victory here in as many years. They will end the weekend just barely off their dressage score on a 27.3.

Photo by Shelby Allen.

It’s just another accolade to the growing list of accomplishments for the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Courage II that has been in Oliver’s yard since he was just four years old. “Thomas” certainly set the bar high when he entered the then CCI4* ranks, winning Burghley in 2017 at his first attempt at the level. This weekend marks his sixth CCI5* and his sixth time finishing in the top five. To say he’s consistent would be a massive understatement, as it would be to say that Oliver loves the horse more than just about anything else in the world.

“Today he felt in incredible shape,” Oliver said. “I’ve never felt him as good and as careful.” This was the first time Ballaghmor Class has show jumped on footing at a five-star – his comfort in the footing may well have contributed to the freshness Oliver felt beneath him that left no doubt and all the rails in their cups.

2021 #LRK3DE Champions Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class

It’s officially a three-peat #LRK3DE victory for Great Britain’s Oliver Townend.🥇Townend and Ballaghmor Class topped the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event after a flawless show jumping round that led them to finish on 27.3 penalties, which awarded them the win and put them in contention for the ROLEX Grand Slam of Eventing. 🥈Second place went to Tim Price (NZL) on 28.2, while🥉Jonelle Price closed out the top three with 30.7.Thank you to the USEF Network for the video coverage!

Posted by United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) on Sunday, April 25, 2021

“We’ve had him since he was four years old, so we know him very well,” he described. “He was very sharp all the way through and still can be. But that sharpness, when we’ve managed to bend it, is what makes him so special. He has got that extra gear in comparison to most horses so when you say ‘go’, he really can go. He used to go when he wanted to go – it was more his choice than yours. Now he’s very professional about what he does. He knows his job, he knows what day it is. It’s hard to put your finger on what makes him so special, but he definitely, definitely is.”

Tim Price and Xavier Faer. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Two-thirds of the New Zealand contingent here, husband and wife duo of Tim and Jonelle Price, did all they could to put the pressure on and each delivered jump fault-free rounds. It would be Tim Price and the 15-year-old British Sport Horse gelding Xavier Faer (Catherston Liberator – Faerie Dazzler, by Catherston Dazzler), who was third here in 2019, steadily climbing from 11th after dressage into second overall on a score of 28.2. Xavier Faer is owned by Trisha Rickards (who is also his breeder), Nigella Hall and Tim Price.

After lowering three rails with Bango earlier on, Tim knew his work was cut out for him aboard the higher placed Xavier Faer. “I thought it was a very difficult show jumping course,” he said. “It had all sorts of elements. The time wasn’t just a gimme. You had to work for the clock. I thought there was an opportunity in there to jump a clear round. I thought it was going to be difficult to manage a clear round today. I didn’t manage on my first horse and he’s been double clear in his two five-stars. Managed to get it done with this guy. It’s not the same as being in the lead, so you can focus on your job see where that leaves you.”

Jonelle Price and Grovine de Reve. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Jonelle Price collected one second of time aboard the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse Grovine de Reve, finishing on the podium in third place on a final score of 30.7.

Grovine de Reve (Heremea de Reve – Erkina Jane, by Rimilis) had run around some big tracks including the 2018 World Equestrian Games with former rider Dan Jocelyn before coming to join Jonelle’s string in 2019. She said she spent some time installing the buttons she needed and adjusting to the new ride. Those efforts paid off in a big way today, and now she says he’s near the top of her string looking ahead to the Tokyo Olympics. Grovine de Reve is owned by Therese Miller and Jonelle Price.

“I haven’t been given the ride on a lot of older more experienced horses,” she said. “He had jumped around the Worlds with Dan so it probably took a year to sort of change him a bit and adjust him to how I wanted to get him to go and my buttons. And the next year has been sort of fine tuning more and more and more. He’s not the most outward horse, we’ve sort of had to coax it out of him, but he’s got an immense amount of talent. He’s 75% Thoroughbred blood and he’s just given me more and more and I was really impressed with him.”

Boyd Martin and On Cue. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Boyd Martin lowered one rail aboard Christine Turner’s On Cue to finish in fourth position on a score of 31.8, making him the USEF National Champion here for the second consecutive running of the event. He’d love to have that rail back, but, as he jokingly put it “I think it’s great that America gives a prize to the highest placed American!”

On Cue (Cabri D’Elle – On High, by Primitive Rising) surprised many with her stellar performance this weekend – even Boyd would have given the top finish among his string to the most experienced horse of the three, Tsetserleg TSF. But after an untimely fall on cross country yesterday with Tsetserleg TSF, it was the 15-year-old Anglo-European mare’s time to shine.

Land Rover #USAEventing CCI5* Eventing National Champions Boyd Martin & On Cue

"Obviously when you bring a horse to this level for this first time you don't know what to expect. She's unbelievable and exceeded all my expectations. She tried her absolute guts out and I'm just thrilled with her."At her CCI5* debut, On Cue helped Boyd Martin take home his second consecutive Land Rover #USAEventing CCI5* Eventing National Championship at #LRK3DE!(Thank you to the USEF Network for the video coverage throughtout the entire Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.)

Posted by United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) on Sunday, April 25, 2021

Despite the rail, it was a heck of a debut for On Cue, who finishes her weekend on a score of 31.8 in fourth place.

“When you bring a horse to this level for the first time you don’t know what to expect,” Boyd said. “She exceeded my expectations. I really thought it would’ve been Tsetserleg that would have done better…she tried her absolute guts out and I’m just thrilled with her.”

Harry Meade and Superstition. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Harry Meade capped off a successful weekend aboard the 12-year-old British Sport Horse Superstition, owned by Mandy Gray as well as Harry, rounding out the top five on a final score of 33.6 with one rail down. It was a comeback weekend for Harry, who completes his first CCI5* since finishing sixth at Burghley in 2018. Dealt a massive head injury to recover from in 2020, this weekend certainly has been a special one for Harry as well as for Superstition, who clinches his very first CCI5* completion.

Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Australia’s Kevin McNab also enjoyed a successful weekend in Kentucky, finishing sixth with Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam (Quidam – Nairoby, by Amethist), who climbed from 21st after dressage to finish sixth overall on a score of 34.6.

Jonelle Price and Classic Moet. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Jonelle Price and the speedy and very experienced Classic Moet (Classic – Gamston Bubbles, by Bohemond) finished seventh on their dressage score of 35.2. “Molly” is 18 this year, and Jonelle says with the uncertainty of the British five-stars, she wanted to make the trek with the 2018 Badminton winner. Molly fans fear not, though, you may not have seen the last of the superstar mare – Jonelle thinks she may have one more five-star in her, so we may potentially see her out at Burghley later this fall (or hey, Jonelle, there’s a little event happening in Maryland this fall too you know…).

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

U.S. riders fill out the rest of the top 10, with Phillip Dutton jumping one of the fault-free round today with The Z Partnership’s Z to climb into eighth position on a final score of 35.2. Phillip was thrilled with Z’s efforts today, taking time to thank his team for all their hard work after he came out of the ring. This is another horse that has begun to show increased consistency as he’s matured – no doubt he’ll still be on the Tokyo selectors’ radar after this weekend.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shelby Allen.

It was a fairytale of a weekend for Tamie Smith and the Ahearn family and Eric Markell’s Mai Baum, who capped things off with a double clear jumping round to finish ninth overall on a score of 38.8. It’s been a long, long road with the 15-year-old German Sport Horse by Loredano. I’ll let Tamie speak for herself here – grab a tissue:

Liz Halliday-Sharp didn’t have the ending she wanted with Ocala Horse Properties’ Deniro Z. The pair lowered two rails and picked up two seconds of time to drop into 10th place on a score of 39.0. It’s the 13-year-old KWPN gelding’s best finishing score at the CCI5* level, and Liz commented yesterday after her cross country that he’d finished strong and had given her a positive feeling about his progression. The career is, with any luck, still young for this pair and they’ve certainly got much to be proud of nonetheless this weekend.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The name of the game certainly was climbing the ranks this weekend, and all riders in the final press conference were quick to reiterate the importance of having a true, gritty event horse who could finish the job in all three phases to emerge successful at the end of the weekend.

Indeed, looking at the dressage rankings, the eventual top 10 this year contained six combinations who were placed 11th or worse after dressage. When the dust settled, aside from the leader all other places shuffled once again and left us with a different top 10 than what we had last night.

Looking to how the course rode today, we saw a total of 16 clear jumping rounds (37.2%), 12 pairs had one rail down (27.9%), nine had two rails (20.9%), three had three down (7%) and three had four or more down (7%). A total of nine pairs had rounds that were clear inside the time.

With so many incredible storylines this week I’m bound to miss a good few of them, but I leave you today with my favorite pair, Ema Klugman and Bendigo, who capped off their weekend by winning the Highest Placed Youngest Rider for the competition. They end their weekend in 33rd place, and while Ema is kicking herself for a hairy moment in the triple and a second rail down, it’s a weekend she won’t soon be forgetting. Take a listen:

And finally, Buck Davidson took a moment to reflect on the weekend – one where he finished Katherine O’Brien’s Carlevo in the top 20 and piloted Kat Cuca’s Jak My Style to his first five-star completion – and the sudden loss of his longtime friend and partner, Ballynoe Castle RM. “Reggie” was a special one who gave us many, many happy Kentucky memories, so it felt fitting to reflect on the experiences Buck had with him:

It’s hard to believe that the Kentucky Three-Day event has already come and gone. After the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, life as we know it changed in more ways than we can name. The weekend was, above all, permeated with a sense of gratitude. Gratitude to be here, gratitude for the thousands of donations that allowed the event to run after initially canceling, gratitude that the sun finally peeked its head out just in time for the CCI5* conclusion today, gratitude that all horses and riders were back in the barn safe and sound last night. It’s easy to think “oh, it’s just a silly horse show,” for some – but it’s more than that for us. I know not everyone had the weekend they wanted – there were points left on the table, decisions that you’re kicking yourself for now – but I hope we’re all leaving the Horse Park tonight with a fresh sense of awe, appreciation and thankfulness. I certainly know I am.

Thank you so much for taking the time to follow along with us this weekend. Until next year (hopefully)! Go eventing.

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, CCI4*-S Final Scores, CCI5* Final ScoresEN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

Alyssa Phillips Nabs Her First CCI4*-S Win in Epic Fashion at LRK3DE

Alyssa Phillips and Oskar. Photo by Shelby Allen.

If there’s any weekend to win your first CCI4*, why not make it that of the biggest, baddest four-star the country has seen in recent memory? Luckily, Alyssa Phillips says she rides better when she has some pressure – and now she’s the winner of this year’s newly-added CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.

That cool under pressure mentality came in great handy as Alyssa and the 12-year-old Holsteiner Oskar (Coriando – Nicole, by Marlo) not only turned in the quickest cross country in exceptionally tough conditions yesterday but also laid down a rare double clear show jumping effort this morning on a day that saw just five pairs do the same around Steve Stephens’ track. They end their weekend in first place on a finishing score of 37.9.

“I think I’m dreaming, I should probably pinch myself and wake up from it!” Alyssa said as she sat in her first Kentucky press conference. “It’s pretty unreal. It’s my first four-star win and I just couldn’t be happier, I’m over the moon.”

Alyssa reacts after realizing she’d won her first CCI4*-S. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Alyssa’s 2021 season has been off to a rocking start. With her two younger horses, Cornelius Bo and FE Celestino, she’d already collected seven wins and is currently on a nine-win streak that extends back into 2020 with the 7-year-old Cornelius Bo (who was actually purchased from German rider Anna Siemer, who is competing in the CCI5* this weekend). So, it’s safe to say Alyssa’s soaking up the moment – and the pressure she rode under all weekend makes this win that much sweeter.

“I pulled up the live stream and started to watch (yesterday),” she said of her cross country trip, which was the fastest of the day with 5.6 time penalties added. She moved up from 15th after dressage into second following the second phase. “Nothing was riding according to plan, so I was a bit nervous but I actually ride a bit better under pressure. I went to the warm-up and (coach Jennie Brannigan) told me ‘you know your horse, just ride to plan and be aggressive’.”

Alyssa Phillips and Oskar. Photo by Shelby Allen.

With the rain pelting in her eyes, Alyssa didn’t even check her watch while on course, knowing that the most important job was just to get home safely. Luckily, Oskar, she says, doesn’t require a lot of setup in front of a fence, making him more efficient despite not necessarily being the quickest horse in the field. It was the toughest track she’s seen, she said, saying her nerves actually helped her ride a little better.

Alyssa and Oskar – who she describes as “pretty much like a dog” around the barn – don’t have much time to celebrate this weekend, as they’re next heading to their first CCI4*-L at Jersey Fresh in early May.

Tamie Smith and En Vogue. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tamie Smith, the overnight leader with Ruth Bley’s EnVogue, just barely ticked a rail at fence 9A, the first of the treble, lowering her final placing to second on a final score of 40.2. Ever the practical professional, though, Tamie was quick to congratulate Alyssa, whom she has known for several years, and says for her, the competition is with herself. This event now sets Tamie and “EV” up for the Jersey Fresh CCI4*-L, the duo’s final destination before heading back to California after spending the spring out East.

EnVogue (Earl – Laurena, by Lauries Crusador), who is in her second full season at the Advanced level, has continued to grow into herself and Tamie says she’s thrilled with the 16-year-old mare’s progression.

“She hasn’t done much in her career,” she explained. “Ruth Bley started her as a young horse and she did a lot of Prelims with a girl who worked with Ruth and couple of Intermediates before coming to me. So shes only been up at Advanced for two years or year and a half and she’s a very – knock on wood – sound and strong horse. So I think she’ll do the long at Jersey and look at heading to Maryland 5 Star in the fall. With these horses, honestly age is kind of just a number if they’re feeling great and sound and good in their bodies. And every event she just keeps getting better and better so we hope to do some exciting stuff with her.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine. Photo by Shelby Allen.

We’re thrilled to see Liz Halliday-Sharp and the carefully produced Cooley Moonshine, owned by The Monster Partnership, slot into third place overall, ending the weekend with a firm double clear jumping effort to finish on a score of 42.5.

Cooley Moonshine (Cobra – Kilpatrick Duchess, by Kings Master) has competed at the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships at Mondial du Lion twice, finishing third as a six-year-old and second as a seven-year-old – suffice it to say, this horse is one to watch as his career continues. Just nine this year, Liz said she’s taken her time producing him. “He’s pretty green still, but I think it’s such a great opportunity to get a horse like him into this atmosphere,” Liz said after the first day of competition this weekend.

Colleen Loach and Vermont. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Rails clattered down around the course this morning with problems relatively scattered, though fences 1, 6 and 7 seemed to collect the most penalties. Clear rounds were difficult to come by – perhaps an after-effect of the tiring cross country tomorrow, the atmosphere in Rolex Stadium, or any combination of those and other factors. Other riders collecting clear rounds were: Colleen Loach – who enjoyed a stellar weekend with both Vermont (4th – 45.8) and FE Golden Eye (12th – 71.1), Ann Goodwin and Fedarman B (6th – 58.3), Alex Baugh and Mr Candyman (7th – 58.7),

We’ll now get ready for the nail biter of a conclusion in the CCI5* which will kick off at 1:30 p.m. EST with the first group and the top 20 at 3 p.m. EST. We can’t wait to see how this all shakes out! Thanks for following along with us.

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, CCI4*-S Live Scores, CCI5* Live Scores, Schedule, North America Live Stream, Worldwide Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

How Did the LRK3DE CCI5* Ride? Find Out with Doug Payne and Vandiver

Doug Payne can typically be spotted out on cross country tracks wearing his slim, low-profile Cambox helmet cam and he’s already put up some highlights from his run yesterday with Vandiver, who jetted up from 38th into 14th thanks to a quick cross country with just 2.8 time penalties added. They’ll take a score of 37.3 into today’s show jumping conclusion.

Also…we’ll just leave this here:

Want to grab a Cambox of your own? Check out some good deals here.

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, CCI4*-S Live Scores, CCI5* Live ScoresSchedule, North America Live Stream, Worldwide Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

One Contender Spun, 44 CCI5* Horses Accepted in Tense Final Horse Inspection at LRK3DE

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmore Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

All 45 horses remaining in the CCI5* at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS equestrian, trotted up this morning before the ground jury of Christina Klingspor, Peter Gray and Bobby Stevenson. A total of four horses were held and asked to re-present, and unfortunately Oliver Townend’s Cooley Master Class, eighth placed after cross country, was not accepted on his second jog.

“I’m just really sad,” Oliver said after the jog. “He’s picked up a bit of a cut. He’s sore but at the same time I hopped on and gave him a little ride this morning. He’s sound to ride, he’s very fresh, he’s well in himself. He would have jumped well. Unfortunately he didn’t present well and obviously the welfare of the horse is paramount in our sport and that’s (the ground jury’s) decision to make and their job to decide. It’s very sad for me and very sad for the team. But he’s still in one piece. He’s very, very happy and well in himself. He had a little buck on the way down from the trot ups. It’s more of a frustration than anything else, but hes 100% well in himself.”

Doug Payne’s second ride, Quantum Leap, Phillip Dutton’s Fernhill Singapore, and Ema Klugman and Bendigo were all sent to the hold box but were accepted on their second presentation.

The CCI4*-S horses also trotted up for the ground jury of Mark Weissbecker and Helen Brettell. Just one horse was sent to the hold: Meghan Marinovich Burdick’s Riviera Lu. They were accepted on their second presentation. There were no overnight withdrawals in either division. We’ll see 22 horses show jumping in the CCI4*-S later this morning.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Generally speaking we saw many horses looking fit and ready to go run around cross country again this morning – a big shout to the grooms, riders and veterinary support staff for looking after these horses last night to ensure they could trot up feeling their best this morning.

We’ll now have a fairly rapid turnaround to begin the CCI4*-S show jumping at 10:45 a.m. EST, followed by the start of CCI5* show jumping at 1:30 p.m. EST and the top 20 beginning at 3 p.m. EST. All divisions will jump in reverse order of standing. We’re sure to have a thrilling finale in both divisions, so be sure to stay tuned on USEF Network, Horse & Country TV and right here on EN for all the latest.

Elisa Wallace and Let It Be Lee. Photo by Shelly Allen.

You can also follow along with all the action using EN’s Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE, full of info on each horse including show jumping past performance. We can’t wait to see who our champions will be when the dust settles!

Go Eventing.

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, CCI4*-S Live Scores, CCI5* Live Scores, 5* Ride Times, 4* Ride Times, Schedule, North America Live Stream, Worldwide Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

Dramatic Land Rover Kentucky Cross Country Rearranges Both Leaderboards

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The cross country gods certainly make sure they made up for lost time today, as a very dramatic cross country shuffled both the CCI5* and the CCI4*-S leaderboards. As the day ends, the top four in each division look completely different than they did yesterday. It will be Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class, who sat fifth after dressage, to take over the top spot on the CCI5* board, stopping the clock two seconds over the time for a two-phase score of 27.3. Tamie Smith and EnVogue lead the CCI4*-S on a score of 35.0. More on the 4* shortly.

Ballaghmor Class has never finished outside the top five in five-star competition, and his performance this afternoon in the rain puts him well into position to ensure that streak continues tomorrow. After Oliver picked up 6.4 time penalties with his first ride, Cooley Master Class, he carved off some more seconds with “Thomas”, though a hairy moment at the Rolex Grand Slam and some slipping around cost some extra seconds. It was a round that we’ve come to anticipate from this pair, though, and their combined experience served them well to move them ahead of the rest of the field – though Oliver won’t have much room to breathe.

#LRK3DE Leading Cross-Country Ride – Oliver Townend on Ballaghmor Class

The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* presented by Mars Equestrian reported a shift in the lead after today’s challenging cross-country run. It’s Great Britian’s Oliver Townend on Ballaghmor Class who will head into the final show jumping phase in the first-place position with only .8 penalties added to their dressage score. Boyd Martin (USA) and On Cue currently sit in second place, while Tim Price (NZL) holds onto the top three with Xavier Faer.Thank you to the USEF Network for the video coverage.

Posted by United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) on Saturday, April 24, 2021

Truth be told, Oliver came home a bit crestfallen at his rides today – he would’ve preferred more stylish, more smooth rides, but having lost a shoe early on with both Ballaghmor Class and Cooley Master Class (who added 6.4 time to drop into eighth place on a 30.5) forced him to modify his plans to just keep the horses feeling confident and on their feet.

“For me today was the toughest cross country course for a long long time at the five-star level,” Oliver said. “It’s right up there with the very toughest in the world…It’s my job to have the horses prepared and to be as prepared myself as possible…I cant see the Olympics being tougher than this. Even from a technicality pint of view I thought that’s as tough as you can get.”

“(I’m) still very emotional about how amazing they both are in terms of they both literally gave me their heart and soul today,” he reflected. “Cooley Master Class didn’t have a smooth trip at all, but every time I gave him a squeeze he put his head down and did what he could.”

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. Photo by Sally Spickard.

With his shoes in tact, Oliver says Ballaghmor Class would likely have come home well inside the time, but the slipping caused by the loss prompted Oliver to do what he could to protect, finding straight lines to “go like a bat out of hell” wherever he could but otherwise just focusing on keeping his feet. It would prove to be enough for the lead, but he’d perhaps like to get those rides back to smooth them out.

“The amount of gear changes the (Ballaghmor Class) has done around there in comparison to most of the others and to still be close to the time for me makes him as special as he is,” Oliver continued. “I feel a bit sad for him because I’d love to be stylish and ride around as I want to ride, but it was rough and tumble and start and stop and just try and keep his feet.”

Boyd Martin and On Cue. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Hot on the leader’s tail is the top-placed U.S. rider, Boyd Martin with Christine Turner’s On Cue (Cabri D’Elle – On High, by Primitive Rising). This 15-year-old Anglo-European mare has a massive task today in her five-star debut but she ends the day as Boyd’s lone remaining ride after he parted ways with both Long Island T and Tsetserleg. She would also pick up just two seconds of time in a supremely impressive round that threw any and all predictions any of us made out the window (honestly, it’s rather fun when that happens) and will go into Sunday’s finale in second on a score of 27.8.

“I think riding this event for over a decade, this is one of the hardest cross country courses that I’ve seen designed here,” Boyd commented. “It’s a whole different ballgame if you go out there trying to make the time or if you’re just trying to get around.”

Not having the best of days with his other two rides and electing to scratch Luke 140 from the CCI4*-S after a rough tumble with Tsetserleg TSF (Luke is aimed at the CCI4*-L at Jersey Fresh next month as it is), Boyd’s still thrilled with the debut efforts of On Cue.

#LRK3DE Cross-Country with Boyd Martin and On Cue

A solid #LRK3DE cross-country round for Boyd Martin and On Cue, the closest of the American contingent to go double clear. They’ll carry a score of 28.2 into tomorrow’s show jumping final 🇺🇸Thank you to USEF Network for the videos!

Posted by United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) on Saturday, April 24, 2021

“She’s a lovely horse…got an awesome gallop, good jumper and this year she’s given me a great feeling in the prep events,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned watching guys like Tim (Price) and Oliver (Townend) is if you want to win you’ve got to have a crack at it – you cant save them, you cant take an option. In my opinion I’d rather fail trying to win it than just tippy-toeing away.”

This plan “sort of worked one time today but didn’t work the other two,” Boyd said with a wry laugh. “But that’s the sport and there’s no shame in going for it. The big ones like this, if I want to win this one day you got to throw caution to the wind and it’ll be what it’ll be.”

In fact you have to go down to eighth place to find a rail in hand, meaning tomorrow’s show jumping will certainly be an all-out nail biter.

Derek di Grazia’s track caused its fair share of problems (which might be an understatement), and the optimum time of 11 minutes on the nose proved difficult for all but three pairs in the field to manage. All four riders producing double clear efforts were overseas entries: Tim Price and Xavier Faer (28.2), Harry Meade and Superstition (29.6), and Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam (30.3 – 6th).

Tim Price and Xavier Faer. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Third placed overnight will be New Zealand’s Tim Price and Xavier Faer (Catherston Liberator – Faerie Dazzler, by Catherston Dazzler), who finished third here in 2019 and betters his two-phase score by 2.7 penalties. Xavier Faer, who is owned by his breeder Trisha Rickards as well as Tim and Nigella Hall, will stay on his dressage mark of 28.3 thanks to his double clear effort today and will be eager to put the show jumping pressure on the top two tomorrow. He’s a consistent show jumper with no rails predicted by Maggie Deatrick in EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, while Ballaghmor Class and On Cue each have slightly more rails on their record and each have one rail predicted tomorrow.

A fun note on Xavier Faer: he is related to Jonelle Price’s superstar Faerie Dianimo on the dam side – both horses were bred by Trisha Rickards.

Harry Meade and Superstition. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Perhaps the best story of the day has been Great Britain’s Harry Meade, who some may not have known before today has suffered a rash of fairly horrific injuries in recent years, among other troubles. Last fall, he suffered a head injury in a fall at Thorseby that left him contending with a severe concussion and resulting neural fatigue.

The incredible resilience and dedication of Harry has brought him back to the five-star level this weekend, and today’s double clear effort aboard the 12-year-old British Sport Horse Superstition (Satisfaction FRH – Cordalame) is the absolute icing on the cake.

Superstition, owned by Harry as well as Mandy Gray makes his five-star debut this weekend, but he’s got a couple of wins at the four-star level to his name and now builds on that experience with a gutsy performance all around the testing track. They’ll remain on their dressage mark of 29.6 to move from equal 17th (if that doesn’t show you the caliber of competition this weekend, I don’t know what will) into fourth tonight.

“He’s a game little horse and it’s his first five-star,” Harry said after his ride. “The theme of the course was big, bold, attacking, jumping, plenty of really decent jumps into water. He’s not had a great run out since we’ve had all our events canceled in England and the two he’s had he jumped really stickily into the water. So I just thought I’ve got to fill him with confidence and really just pump him up and he got jumping really well and felt super. The further he went, the more he grew in confidence and went out a boy and came home a man. Up on his minutes the whole way, he’s never gone this distance, never done a five-star.”

Harry says he could probably have gotten in 30 seconds under, but he elected to take the longer route at the Mighty Moguls at 26 and brought him home six seconds under the time. He calls Superstition a “worrier, very much an internalizer,” so he’s focused on keeping the gelding breathing and letting go in his warm-ups, aiming to keep his heart rate low so he goes out of the box with a fresh mind. The system clearly works, and Harry’s got himself a newly minted five-star horse on his string this weekend.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“What a phenomenal horse, isn’t he?” Liz Halliday-Sharp reflected after her ride aboard Ocala Horse Properties’ Deniro Z, who finishes the day as the second highest-placed U.S. horse, moving from eighth into fifth with 2.8 time penalties added and a two-phase score of 30.2. “He just keeps getting better and he fought for me the whole way. He was just 100% with me and I’m just over the moon with him.”

Knowing Deniro Z (Zapatero – Zonne-Trend, by French Buffett xx) as a big, bold and forward horse, Liz’s plans for the day didn’t change in the face of the oncoming rain. “That’s what this track wanted,” she said. “My plan was to make all the distances no matter what. I think this course rewards you just going in and attacking it.” Liz was looking for a strong finish from the 13-year-old KWPN gelding – “that’s kind of what we want is for them to come back a stronger five-star horse and I think he’s shown that so I’m thrilled.”

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Dressage leader Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous jumped a clear round but unfortunately picked up 71 seconds of time, electing to get home safe. Tamie Smith and Mai Baum, second-placed after dressage, had an unfortunate frangible pin activated at the Park Question coffin at 24, but, as Tamie said after, “he doesn’t know he had a frangible pin” – she’s all out thrilled with “Lexus'” efforts in his long-awaited five-star debut.

Thanks to the difficulty of the time – and the track, in general – those who jumped clear were rewarded with large jumps up the board. Notable among these move-ups are Jonelle Price and Grovine de Reve, who shot up from 20th into equal sixth place with Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam, who move up from 21st. Jonelle also earns the Biggest Mover award for jumping a whopping 34 places from 46th into 12th with the superstar Classic Moet, who remains on her dressage score of 35.2. Runner-ups for the Biggest Mover award goes to – drumroll – not one, but two of our all-star Rookies this weekend: our own Ema Klugman and Bendigo (61 to 31) and Emily Hamel and Corvett (56 to 26), who each had incredibly stellar debuts at the level and have a whole lot to be celebrating tonight.

Ema Klugman and Bendigo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

In terms of completion and clear ratings, this course, with 61 total starters in the CCI5*, saw 45 pairs complete (73.8%), 40 of which were clear (65.6%). The four riders making the time made up 6.6% of the starters. Several high-profile pairs sadly came to grief at various points around the track, including early ninth-placed William Fox Pitt and Oratorio II.

A total of seven pairs were given a Mandatory Retirement for a horse fall; no serious injuries to horses or riders have been reported in either division: Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes, Mike Pendleton and Steady Eddie, William Fox Pitt and Oratorio, Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara, Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride and Favian, and Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois, and Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. This is a big increase in the horse fall rate – we’ve had a total of seven horse falls at Kentucky since 2015. 11.5% of the starters were given Mandatory Retirements, six riders (9.8%) were eliminated for Rider Fall, one pair (1.6%) retired on course, and two (3.3%) were given a Technical Elimination for missing an element. You can view a few more stats from the day in our At A Glance here.

In terms of the horse falls, we saw three of them come at the Mighty Moguls, two logs on a related distance at fence 26. Tim Price and Boyd Martin commented in the press conference that the ground really fell away after the second log – and riders had to aim for a corner to the right on landing. Mike Pendleton, William Fox Pitt and Boyd Martin all had their falls here. Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride fell at fence 13, the Park Gates, which were clipped but the MIM clip was not activated in the fall. Zoe and K.E.C. Zara fell at the Triple Scoop at fence 22. Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes missed their spot to the second hedge of Pete’s Hollow at 17 and very nearly had a rotational fall. Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois seemed to peck on landing after jumping into the Rolex Grand Slam Challenge at fence 19.

Tamie Smith and En Vogue. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tamie Smith Leads CCI4*-S

To say that the CCI4*-S rode more like a CCI5*-S or the CCI4*-S Olympics – take your pick – would be accurate considering the results of the cross country, which ran after the five-star this afternoon. The division was originally slated to run cross country first but was changed in light of the weather forecast.

Which means that the four-star riders got a good brunt of the weather, and a tricky and technical track didn’t help matters. The last out of the box, and after a not so successful run aboard her first ride, Danito, Tamie Smith laid down a round aboard Ruth Bley’s EnVogue that she said felt almost easy. Despite some time added (no one managed the optimum time of 6 minutes, 46 seconds), Tamie will take a leading score of 35.0 into tomorrow’s show jumping.

“It definitely rode very tough and big,” Tamie said. “On EnVogue, it was a blast. I was originally entered in the (five-star) and I decided to drop her down and do another four-star long instead. Obviously she just zipped around and was awesome and I was a little bit like, gosh I wish I would have kept her in (the five-star)! But he slow was is always the fast way.”

It was a big ask for EnVogue (Earl – Laurena, by Lauries Crusader), who also ran in the mud at Tryon last fall – and it’s that run that Tamie credits with helping the 16-year-old Hanoverian mare grow into herself and find some more confidence.

Alyssa Phillps and Oskar. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tamie won’t have a rail in hand over second placed Alyssa Phillips and Oskar (Coriando – Nicole, by Marlo), who were one pair who actually looked to be having a bit of fun out there and were rewarded with a rocket jump all the way from 15th into second on a score of 37.9 and the fastest round of the day with 5.6 time penalties accumulated. Colleen Loach and Vermont, who were second after dressage, remain in the top three with a score of 41.8. Doug Payne and Starr Witness (42.1) as well as Liz Halliday-Sharp and the young talent Cooley Moonshine (42.5), equal third after dressage, also turned in excellent rounds with time to remain inside the top five.

Colleen Loach and Vermont. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“I’m so happy to be done with it!” Alyssa said after her ride. “He fought really hard for me. It’s the hardest course I personally have ridden. (Oskar) is not all that experienced at the level. He’s gone around a couple four-stars but this is the toughest he’s ever seen. He really fought for me at all those combinations. It wasn’t easy, it rode super hard. Jennie Brannigan, my trainer, gave me some words of wisdom out of the start box so I just rode aggressively and I didn’t pull.”

“You know your horse,” Jennie told Alyssa as she warmed up. Just keep kicking, she advised. “I couldn’t do it without her,” Alyssa said.

In total, 18 of the original 40 pairs were eliminated or opted to retire. Just 14 pairs came home clear of jumping penalties, making this one of the toughest CCI4*-S tracks we’ve seen in recent memory. Weather certainly played a factor, but the intensity of the track made for a stiffer challenge than what might have been seen elsewhere at the level. As the day progressed, it became clear that just a clear round would be sufficient to hold a placing or move up, and most pairs prioritized getting home over going fast.

We’ll see both the CCI4*-S and the CCI5* horses trot up tomorrow bright and early at 8 a.m. EST. Show jumping will then commence at 10:45 a.m. with the CCI4*-S jumping first in reverse order of standing. We’ll then start the CCI5* show jumping at 1:30 p.m. EST with the first group, followed by the top 20 beginning at 3 p.m., all in reverse order of standing.

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, CCI4*-S Live Scores, CCI5* Live Scores, 5* Dressage Ride Times, 4* Dressage Ride Times, Schedule, North America Live Stream, Worldwide Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

Ballynoe Castle RM Passes Away Peacefully at Age 21

Buck Davidson, Ballynoecastle RM and Kathleen Blauth-Murray. Photo by Sally Spickard.

What do you say when one of the greatest horses to grace our sport passes? What comes to mind in this moment is: it’s been an honor. It’s what we would say to Ballynoe Castle RM, the longtime partner and friend of Buck Davidson and owners Carl and Cassie Segal, who passed away peacefully in his Ocala field earlier today at the age of 21.

Before he was the winningest event horse in U.S. eventing history, “Reggie” was first and foremost a beloved family member for Carl and Cassie Segal, who have been longtime supporters of Buck’s. After his retirement from competition in 2017, Reggie went to live in luxury at the Segal’s farm in New Jersey, but still traveled with the BDJ crew to Ocala for the winters. In 2019, Breyer Horses created a model of the bay gelding.

Purchased sight unseen from Ireland and Patricia Nicholson as a six-year-old by the Segals, the Irish Sport Horse gelding by Ramiro B showed up to work every day. It was Buck who would produce him up from the Preliminary level, ultimately completing 35 international competitions and 51 USEA national competitions. In 2013, Buck and Reggie were named USEF National Champions when they finished fourth in the Kentucky CCI4*. They also finished in third place, their best then CCI4* finish, in 2014. In total, Reggie completed six CCI4* competitions, including the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington.

In January 2015, the USEA announced that Reggie had surpassed Winsome Adante as the overall points leader in USEA history with a total of 1,377 points accumulated. He would go on to retire in 2017 in a ceremony at Kentucky with over 1,600 USEA points, including those earned when he spent the last year of his career partnering with his longtime groom, Kathleen Murray (he also played a large role in Kathleen’s wedding in 2014).

Team Reggie! Buck Davidson, Kathleen Murray, Cassie and Carl Segal. Photo via Kathleen Murray.

It’s the greatest horses that make the greatest stories. Among his countless accomplishments and accolades are woven even more innumerable memories, moments made even more special. I think it’s safe to say that it’s these moments that those who loved Reggie will cherish the most.

“It’s bittersweet for me to see him retire, but it’s great to see him retire on top of the sport and healthy,” Carl told me when Reggie retired. “It’s impossible to replicate — there will never be another Reggie. I think the thing that stands out to me the most is how similar Buck and Reggie are. They both work so hard and want to please. The partnership that they developed is so special. We had no idea when we bought him that he’d end up being a superstar. He and Buck are both very resilient, and that hard work really shows in the consistency of their performance and the longevity of their career together.”

Kathleen Murray and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“My life is owed to him,” Buck told Nancy Jaffer in 2017. “It was a great career and I’m thankful I was actually able to be the one who steered him around. It was a joy every single day.”

We know Buck will be riding with in Reggie’s honor today at Kentucky – what had to have been Reggie’s favorite place to compete. Please join us in sending our sympathies and thoughts to Buck, the Segal family, Kathleen, and all of the countless others who were privileged enough to spend time with this legend of a horse.

Here are just a handful of our favorite Reggie moments:

A fan meets Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Kathleen Murray and Ballynoe Castle RM head into the ring. Photo via Maralee Paul on Instagram.

Kathleen Murray and Ballynoe Castle RM head down the ramp with their entourage in tow. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Super groom Kathleen Blauth-Murray rides Ballynoe Castle RM at the Jersey Fresh awards ceremony. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Reggie gives EN’s own Sally Spickard a boost in Ocala. Photo by Kelly Dutton.

Some quiet time with Reggie. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Photo by Jenni Autry.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum Best of Day Two in Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shelby Allen.

It’s not often that a horse waltzes into the arena in its five-star debut and throws down what’s not far off from the record for a debut in terms of score. But most horses aren’t Mai Baum. To be fair, Mai Baum’s seen the imposing Rolex Stadium before – he’s been the test ride here before – but even so, there’s a world of pressure that rides on a horse that’s known for his competitive scores. And compete is exactly what he and Tamie Smith did today, laying down a 21.8 to sit just a whisker hair off from Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, who will hold their lead on a 21.7 after the conclusion of dressage at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian.

Tamie says that it took some time for her to build a partnership with the 15-year-old Mai Baum (Loredano – Ramira, by Rike), who was originally piloted by Alex Ahearn (who with her family and Eric Markell still own the German Sporthorse gelding) through the old three-star level. When Alex was preparing to head off to college, she took Tamie to dinner and laid out her vision: Tamie needed a great horse, and Lexus was going to be it.

“I get chills every time I think about that night,” she reflected. “It changed my career actually.”

Indeed it did. Of course, Tamie’s no stranger to special horses and five-star rides, but anyone who saw “Lexus” as a young horse – he was selected in Germany by the Ahearns assisted by the expertise of Michelle Pestl – knew he would, without a doubt, be special. Special enough, in fact, that Tamie and Mai Baum’s owners have been cautious with him, carefully choosing his events. In hindsight, Tamie says she maybe would do things different given another chance.

Tamie shares a hug with Alex Ahearn, Mai Baum’s owner and former rider. Photo by Sally Spickard.

“It was a choice that we had made (not to do a five-star until this year),” Tamie said. “We had high hopes for him going into Rio (in 2016). He’s a very extravagant mover and we chose to not to a five-star until now. I don’t know if I would do that again just because when you have a horse of a lifetime…we almost just saved him. Just looking back I don’t know if I would do that again. We wanted to have a chance to do an Olympic Games and that just happened to be five years later.”

Tamie kicked herself for not having a better square halt, which could perhaps have squeaked her ahead of Marilyn, but in truth she’s already focused on tomorrow. Derek di Grazia’s course, she says, suits Mai Baum’s big, galloping style well. “It is very much a course that suits him,” she explained. “He is a big galloping type horse. He’s also quick and naturally fast, rideable, so I feel very prepared. When I first walked (the course) there were a couple combos that I was quite worried about, but they look really rideable now and I feel like I have a really good plan. I feel really ready. I’ll get to walk again in the morning and I’ll get to watch a few.”

Mai Baum’s score goes down as the fourth lowest five-star debut score on record; the lowest was a 19.9 earned by Germany’s Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH at WEG in 2018.

Watch the test:

#LRK3DE Leading Dressage Ride: Day Two – Tamie Smith on Mai Baum

Tamie Smith (Next Level Eventing) closes the gap at the top of the #LRK3DE leaderboard at the conclusion of dressage with this test that was just one-tenth shy of the top spot 😍Leaderboard: Ride Times: you to the USEF Network for the video coverage!

Posted by United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) on Friday, April 23, 2021

An interesting note on Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, who retain their lead after today: RF Scandalous has now led the field after dressage in twelve consecutive A/4/5* starts. Now, she typically has much more time in hand for the next phase than she will this weekend, so time will tell how the storyline plays out there.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Boyd Martin was second best of day two, slotting into fourth place overnight aboard the Turner family’s Tsetserleg TSF on a score of 25.4. This is “Thomas'” best score at the level, his previous best score of 27.1 earned at WEG in 2018.

“He’s a great little horse,” Boyd said. “He’s a veteran at this level now and he’s just fun to ride and he’s such a trier. He goes in there and gives it his all every time. I’m really pleased with him. Dressage is a tough sport where you can always think of a movement here or there that you could’ve done better, but on the whole he was good.”

Boyd credited his wife, Grand Prix dressage rider Silva Martin, for having trained up his horses on the flat in the lead-up to this weekend, even doing some dressage tests as practice at Fair Hill a few weeks ago. “A few of them got a bit hot in the warm-up and she quickly went to some exercises which defused them and relaxed them, so I’m a pretty lucky person.”

Tsetserleg TSF (Windfall – Thabana, Buddenbrock) is one of two horses competing this weekend sired by the champion Windfall – Doug Payne’s ride, Vandiver, is the other.

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“A little bit disappointed because he can do so much more,” Oliver Townend said when asked how he felt about his test today aboard Ballaghmor Class, the very experienced 2017 Burghley winner who is making his Kentucky debut. The pair earned a 26.5 to sit fifth overnight, giving stablemate and former winner Cooley Master Class the slight edge in third on a 24.1. “I think the last time he did that particular test he was on 20.8. That’s life and horses and it’s a three day event, so we’re still close enough.”

Oliver and the 14-year-old Ballaghmor Class (Courage II – Kilderry Place) also had a lighter prep that most years with the shutdown of British Eventing for the better part of the spring season. But all the same, Oliver says it’s time to crack on and get on with tomorrow’s duties.

“(Our preparation was) fine from a physical point of view, it’s just been a bit tricky in England with the cancelations,” he said. “Obviously Kentucky being canceled and then Badminton being canceled, it does take a bit of wind out of your sails, but at the same time the horses know their jobs. They’re very fit, there’s no excuses.”

Buck Davidson and Carlevo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Buck Davidson enjoyed a great ride aboard Katherine O’Brien’s Carlevo (Eurocommerce Caresino – Ramatuelle, by Levernois) as the last horse of the dressage phase this afternoon, scoring a 26.7 for sixth place overnight. This is the 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding’s second go at the five-star level, and he bests his 2018 Kentucky score by 5.5 penalty points to put Buck into competitive position ahead of tomorrow.

“He was great. I was really, really proud of him,” Buck said, joining us with Katherine O’Brien for a quick chat. “He’s really good in this phase and to do that, that’s as good as he’s gone. It’s cool, the O’Briens live here in Lexington and they helped me keep the horse and I can’t thank them enough.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Ocala Horse Properties’ Deniro Z (Zapatero – Zonne-Trend, by French Buffett xx) was another pair most of us had earmarked to watch for a competitive mark, and they earned a 27.4 to sit eighth overnight behind Boyd Martin and On Cue (27.0). This is a five-star personal best for the 13-year-old KWPN gelding, and Liz says she saw a lot of improvements today to be pleased with.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“Deniro always tries in the ring for me, but he was pretty steamed,” Liz said after her ride. “In the first halt, he was definitely looking around and feeling it, and I was like, ‘come here, boy, let’s do this’. Historically flying changes have been the hardest thing for him, and they weren’t great but they were all clean today and that is a huge step forward for that horse, so I’m really proud of him. When we can get those dialed in, I’m sure he’s going to be on a 25 or lower. I could have had a little more relaxation in places, definitely I would have liked the half-passes to have a little more flow, but I had to ride that I had today, so with that in mind I’m really pleased with him.”

How did the numbers from today break down? Maggie Deatrick checks in:

Of those who went today, Z and Ballaghmor Class suddenly find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to make up more ground than they expected on the leaderboard. They join heavy favorites Classic Moet and Vandiver in hoping to see the cross-country run difficult, particularly in the matter of time penalties. Marilyn Little is probably sweating a bit too, despite RF Scandalous holding onto the lead. Although RF Scandalous has now led the field after dressage in twelve consecutive A/4/5* starts, she usually relies on having some cushion to allow for some cross-country time penalties. Tomorrow, she’ll have none.

Mai Baum and Off the Record both have to be extremely pleased with their freshman debuts at the level; despite scoring a little over two penalty points each off their recent pace, their ability to lay down such a strong result at their first 5* bodes well for the future of both of these and puts them both in position to finish as the top American. Tsetserleg TSF performed close to expected as well, and remains on track to also contend for a repeat of 2019.

It’s hard to come to a five-star and not want to write 8000 words about every horse and rider, and I’ll try not to keep you too long but I must leave you with my two favorite stories of the day: the five-star debuts of Ema Klugman, Germany’s Anna Siemer and Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride.

Ema Klugman and Bendigo, a 19-year-old Thoroughbred/Trakehner cross by Refuse to Lose, much-loved members of the Nation Media family (Ema moonlights as Jumper Nation‘s editor), were tickled to make their debut today and earned a 41.5 from the judges, fairly close to his typical average at the upper levels. This is a cross country-loving horse known for making a climb up the board based on his speed in the second phase.

Ema Klugman and Bendigo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

“It felt kind of surreal I have to say,” Ema said. “I have only watched it on TV, so it was pretty cool to go in the ring. My horse was, for him, really good and I was happy also just to get to the final salute. [Ben doesn’t always like dressage, we don’t blame you buddy] It means a lot (to be here). I’ve had him for eight years and he’s not really the easiest horse to ride but he tries really hard for me and he loves eventing, so it’s kind of cool that a horse like him can not only qualify but come to an event like this. He was 11 years old when we got him and he was sitting in a field, so he wasn’t the horse that was supposed to come here and it’s really fun to have him here and do it together.”

Germany’s Anna Siemer made for one of the best moments of the day when she earned a very competitive 28.1 to sit in 10th place overnight in her first five-star with the 14-year-old Hanoverian mare FRH Butt’s Avondale (Nobre xx – Heraldik’s Amelie, by Heraldik xx). Interestingly, Anna actually lives just a short distance away from another five-star: Luhmühlen. So why choose Kentucky as your first go at the level?

“I think people at home are like, we have a five-star like two kilometers from my stable and you go now to the other side of the world to do our first five-star? But five years ago I was here, watched the course and I was like, ‘I really want to go here with this mare’ because this is what she likes I think…I think she can do this tomorrow.”

Anna Siemer and FRH Butt’s Avondale. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“It was super!” Anna exclaimed after her test. “There were still two things not working out, but the rest was fine and she was quite calm in there for her nerves. She could be more excited, today she was ok.”

Watch and become a fan, friends:

Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride got a bit emotional as she reflected on her first time in Rolex Stadium, where she earned a 34.8 to sit equal 42nd overnight. Take a watch (and grab a tissue):

We’ve got plenty more content to send you off with this evening, so stay tuned for more photos (scroll down for a small selection), a round-up of our post-ride interviews with the riders over the last two days, and more from the #BestWeekendAll Year.

Cross country will be intense tomorrow, no doubt, and the action kicks off at 8:30 a.m. EST with Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera first out of the box. The CCI5* will wrap up with Buck Davidson and Carlevo at 12:38 and will be followed by the CCI4*-S, with Jessica Phoenix and Rabbit first out at 1:45 p.m. To catch up on today’s CCI4*-S action, click here.

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Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous Sail Into Day One Land Rover Kentucky CCI5* Lead

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Marilyn Little wasn’t sure how the colder temperatures this afternoon would affect RF Scandalous, who is definitely a Florida girl who prefers not to experience being cold (I can relate to that, Kitty) – but she needn’t have worried as she marched down the ramp to throw down a lovely effort worth a 21.7 nod from the judging panel of Christina Klingspor, Peter Gray, and Bobby Stevenson. This is very nearly a Kentucky record, though a bit short of Bettina Hoy’s 19.2 (or a 28.8 on the old scoring system that was in place at the time) earned in 2009. Lucinda Fredericks also scored a 21.5 (on the new system) here in 2009.

Naturally, as most riders are, Marilyn was quick to point out areas where she felt she could have earned a few more points. This pair performed this test (CCI5* test B) a year ago in Wellington, where they earned a 19.9, and Marilyn said she had hoped to get a bit closer to that mark in order to give “Kitty” a little bit of breathing room come Saturday.

The addition of the mare now being five-star fit, the cooler temperatures, and a glimpse of the cross country in warm-up gave Kitty a “sense of Saturday”, Marilyn said, conceding that this mark was “fantastic” considering the circumstances (“considering the circumstances” – Marilyn, I once got a 47 on a Beginner Novice test. I’ll take your 21.7! These perfectionists, I tell you). “She just said, ‘I’m ready, let’s do it!’ so I was able to push a bit.”

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Nonetheless, it was a strong start to a weekend that Marilyn has been looking forward to, albeit with a tinge of sadness as she is doing her first five-star without the support of her longtime friend and mentor, the late Packy McGaughan. In his honor, though, she’s focused on the task and knows there’s a lot to do this weekend. Above all, though, she echoes the sentiment of the other riders: gratitude.

“We’re always thrilled to come to Kentucky, but this year we’re so blessed to come to Kentucky,” she said.

A common theme that emerged in mixed zone interviews today was that this is, without a doubt, one of the deepest fields the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5* has seen – and one of the toughest cross country courses to go with it. Add in some forecasted rain and, well, let’s just say this won’t be a dressage show.

“It’s a real five-star test,” Marilyn said of the track. “When I walked it, I thought, ‘I’m really glad I’m riding (Kitty). It’ll be tiring early on and for horses that are a little shocked, it’s going to come up hard and fast in the beginning. She’s very experienced and so now I’ve got to do my job and be as efficient as I can, put as few footprints on the course as I can and just let her do her job.”

Marilyn has been working hard honing RF Scandalous'(Carry Gold – Richardia, by Lario) warm-up routine and working with the 16-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Phoebe and Michael Manders as well as Ms. Jacqueline Mars to the point where at Stable View last month she said she finally felt like the mare was letting her drive. As a result, they’ve gotten quicker across the country, and they’ll get to practice their improved rideability on Saturday.

Watch the test:

#LRK3DE Leading Dressage Ride – Marilyn Little on RF Scandalous

It's been over a decade since someone has scored a 21.7 at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event but Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous did just that today in the Rolex Stadium to lead the CCI5*-L. Watch #LRK3DE live and on-demand brought to you by Mars Equestrian: you to the USEF Network for all of the livestream coverage.

Posted by United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) on Thursday, April 22, 2021

It’s no surprise to see some of our overseas entries breathing down on our leaders’ necks after day one, and it’s Oliver Townend, twice a winner here in as many years, and Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class (Ramiro B – The Swallow, Master Imp) who earned the same score (hey, he’s consistent, eh?) as their last trip here, taking a 24.1 into cross country.

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“I’m very very happy with him today. I think that’s the best test he’s done at Kentucky,” Oliver said. “I think he’s on pretty much exactly the same score as he was last time but at the same time it’s a different test which possibly doesn’t suit him quite as well. But at the same time very very happy and he felt very relaxed in there. He’s probably one that does miss the crowd a little bit because he is a very laid-back character and it does him no harm to have a bit of atmosphere. You don’t worry about him blowing up, you worry about keeping him going. He’s had a very quiet life and a quiet career. We just quietly get him ready and he seems to take to the plane journey and he seems to take to everything. He needs very little training in terms of dressage, it’s more about keeping him fit and happy and enthusiastic and he loves his job very well.”

Oliver’s had a light prep – as have his other British compatriots – to start the season as British Eventing saw the start of its season canceled due to ongoing coronavirus complications. With events only running for designated Elite level riders beginning March 22, the onus fell to the riders to do their fitness prep without a lot of runs. This isn’t so unusual for Oliver, though, as he typically can be found running his top horses on a lighter schedule.

“It’s probably been difficult mentally more than anything else because it’s been a little bit start-stop with the ‘is it on or is it off’ with Kentucky and Badminton,” he reflected. “It kind of takes the wind out of your sails a little bit because this is obviously what we’ve worked our whole lives for. But when it’s back on the wind went back into the sails. Then it’s how the hell are we going to pay for this. But we got that, we’re here, we can’t afford the flight home unless it goes well (haha). It’s very very special to be here. With the horses, at this stage they know the job very well so it’s just having them mentally and physically as ready they can be and we’re very happy with where they’re at.”

William Fox-Pitt and Oratorio. Photo by Shelby Allen.

It’s a warm welcome to another British competitor and a three-time winner here, William Fox-Pitt, who in all interactions this weekend has just been absolutely tickled to be back here competing after not making the trip since 2015. In between, he suffered a traumatic brain injury and made a miraculous return to competition – at the top level, too – and now just says he’s quite grateful to be here with the opportunity to compete again. He will sit in third place overnight with Oratorio II on a score of 27.9, one of the best dressage scores the horse has earned in international competition.

Oratorio II (Oslo Biats – Cinnamon Brûlée, by Topanoora) is a special horse for William, though he found his way back to his string in a bit of circuitous way. Bred by William and a progeny his former four- and five-star horse, Oslo, he crossed the heavier stallion with the lighter Thoroughbred former point-to-pointer Cinnamon Brûlée to produce a bloodier horse.

But when Oratorio was three and his owners offered the ride to William, he turned it down. Surely, he’d be retired by the time the horse was ready to go conquer the world. Why “waste” the ride on him?, he thought. So he recommended the horse go to Laura Collett, who did a world of a job producing him through his early international careers. At that point, he’d become a big and strong horse and it became apparent that he might be better suited for a male rider. Just like that, and with William firmly not retired, Oratorio found himself a new partner.

William says he’s feeling a bit on the underprepared side coming into this weekend, having just run a couple of Intermediates and an Advanced before hopping on the plane. “I’d like to be a little more prepared,” he said. “We couldn’t even go and do an indoor show jumping round, so we’re a little underprepared I would say. Our season didn’t really start until April. I think I went cross country schooling in March.”

To that end, William’s putting faith in his horse’s experience (and his own, though he’s too modest to say it) and breeding. While not the most experienced in the field at the level, Oratorio does have a Badminton top-15 finish under his girth. “Horses don’t forget,” William commented. “They’re amazing animals. They can do nothing for a long time and hopefully he’ll just switch into that mode. But with it being so ‘lukewarm’ in Britain, nothing very big and exciting, you certainly walk around a course like this and think, ‘oh, the jumps are quite big.’ It’s just about getting back into it and remembering that’s how the real world is.”

Boyd Martin and Long Island T. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Boyd Martin took command early on in the afternoon aboard the Long Island T Syndicate’s Long Island T (Ludwig von Bayern – Highlight, by Heraldik xx), whose score of 28.2 isn’t an FEI personal best but is nonetheless a damn good five-star debut. Boyd actually lost his stirrup for about five movements in the test, but in all the pair put in one of the nicer tests of the early sessions.”To be honest, he can be hot in the dressage and he was quite settled today, so I was pretty pleased with him,” Boyd said. “Cross country is going to be the deciding factor,” he said, electing not to get too “wound up” about the dressage, though it’s surely a nice feeling knowing you’ll at least be within striking distance come Saturday.

“(The course) looks like the biggest thing that this horses will ever see in his career so far, so I’ve got a mission ahead of us,” he said of Derek di Grazia’s track.

Tim Price and Bango. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tim Price, part of the three-rider New Zealand contingent in Kentucky this week, was hoping for a personal best aboard the Numero Uno Syndicate’s Bango (Garrison Royal – No Sale, by Don Tristan), but the pair’s score of 31.5, while solid enough for early fifth place, won’t quite catch the 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding’s five-star personal best earned at Burghley in 2019 (29.6). In all, though, Tim says he was pleased.

“Probably 90 percent of it was the bet was the best work he’s given me,” Tim said after his ride. “He’s been working well all week, so I’ve been looking forward to having a personal best. It’s close to a personal best for him, but just a couple of little bits and pieces, that’s all it takes to knock you back a few marks, but that’s kind of the nature. He’s red-headed and he’s a blood horse that wants to gallop, and we’re just trying to bide our time until cross country day.

Tim will be looking for a bit of redemption come Saturday, as his last trip to Kentucky with Bango in 2016 saw them part ways just a few fences from home. They’ve since Burghley three times, including a fifth place finish in 2019, so that additional experience will no doubt be called upon when it comes time to leave the start box.

Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Will Coleman and the 14-year-old Thoroughbred Tight Lines (Turgeon – Merindole, by Tel Quel) saw some marked improvement in terms of relaxation in their test today, and it’s a testament to the time Will has put into “Phish”, who isn’t what you would label as “easy-going” or “chill” on most days.

“I think maybe we’ve both matured a little bit,” Will, who stopped by the mixed zone with his adorable daughter, Charlie, mused. “In general, we prioritize his relaxation as the foundation of everything we’re doing in his training and I think we’ve been pretty consistent about that for the last couple years. I think our whole program has sort of embraced that approach. Certainly a more like him with his racing background and his high-blooded nature, it’s sort of necessary for us to kind of give him that extra time when he needs it and be a little bit conciliatory on certain things. So I think we’ve been on a good trajectory the last couple years and we’re just trying to get a little better every day.”

Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise. Photo by Shelby Allen.

We were over the moon for our Rookie riders today, and Fylicia Barr finds herself in quite good position with her $500 Craigslist mare, Galloway Sunrise (Duty Officer – Coco Chanel), who earned a 32.4 to sit seventh overnight. It was a heck of a debut for Fylicia, who was impressed with her mare for going in there and putting the work in. “I’m so excited for her, she just works so hard,” Fylicia said. “She went in and just did all the movements and kept a straight head and I couldn’t ask for more than that.”

What about the data? Let’s bring in Maggie Deatrick to do some crunching:

Approximately two-thirds of the field scores at or over expected today, with the overall average score 1.15 points above expected. The first session saw the biggest disparities, with pairs in that session seeing on average 2.68 penalties above their expected scores, while the remaining three sessions average less than three-quarters of a point above expected.

On average, the judges saw a 2.69 difference between pairs, with all pairs seeing a difference at minimum of one percentage point. Eleven competitors saw a difference of at least 3 points or more, with Wizzerd and Cooley On Show having at least 5 points between their highest and lowest percentages. Robert Stevenson seemed the most reluctant to hand out marks at the highest end of the scale, offering the lowest marks for all but three pairs who scored sub-33.

A visual breakdown of RF Scandalous’ dressage scores.

Despite the drama of RF Scandalous laying down the lowest score of the last decade at this venue, her score was well within the expected range considering the average of her last three outings was a cool 22.4 penalties. Cooley Master Class however came and did exactly what he did two years ago, lay down a score equal to his personal best at this level and flirting with his personal best overall at A/4/5*.

A visual breakdown of Cooley Master Class’ dressage scores.

While many might think that Oliver Townend duplicating his score from 2019 was predictable, but the reality is that 2019 was the second-best test the horse had ever done at the top levels, and it was followed by a more typical 27.6 at Euros the following fall. It is quite the feat to come back in 2021 and equal that, particularly when your scores were trending in the opposite direction. This score, as it did in 2019, improves his chances tremendously, moving Cooley Master Class from the competing for the top ten to likely favorite to win.

Three other Rookies also made their debuts today: Emily Hamel and Corvett (38.1 – 25th), Mike Pendleton and Steady Eddie (38.4 – 26th), and Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara (44.9 – 29th).

The show is far from over as we’ve only seen half of the pairs in both divisions. Though Marilyn’s mark might be hard but not impossible to chase down (looking at you, Mai Baum!), we’re likely to yet see some hefty shuffling in the ranks before we move ahead to cross country.

Notable rides tomorrow in the CCI5* that could threaten these early top placings include Phillip Dutton and Z, Tamie Smith and Mai Baum, Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class, and Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF – though at this point it’s certainly still anyone’s prerogative to come in and steal the show.

We’ll be coming back tomorrow with lots more from the final day of dressage. We’ll also have a photo gallery to publish this evening as well as more social media, some cross country thoughts from designer Derek di Grazia, and much much more. Thanks for tuning in with us! Go Eventing.

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It’s a Three-Way Tie for the Early LRK3DE CCI4*-S Lead After First Day of Dressage

Tamie Smith and Danito. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The CCI4*-S field is a stacked one and that fact was made evident by the competition we’ve seen right out of the gate. Many of these horses competing here are younger or newer to the level, making this the biggest atmosphere they’ve likely been in. To that end, we saw plenty of wide eyeballs – Will Faudree’s FRH Ramona was particularly adorable as she would break her concentration in her halts to glance up and give her surroundings a mindblown once-over – but some really nice moments that have led us into a three-way tie for first. It will be Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine, Doug Payne and Starr Witness and Tamie Smith aboard Danito all scoring a 28.1 for early first place after the first day concludes.

Want to follow along with the forthcoming CCI5*? Don’t forget to download our Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE for just $5!

Things are typically quiet on Thursdays here even during a normal year with spectators, but it doesn’t make the vibe in Rolex Stadium any less eerie knowing there will be no filling of the grandstands with fans eager to see the heavy hitters this afternoon and tomorrow. The first few rows of seats are filled with cardboard cutouts, but even without as many humans, it’s still an atmospheric arena for any horse.

All that said, though, it’s a great experience for a young, inexperienced horse to come here and soak it all in – and perhaps it’s one silver lining of the absence of spectators. The four-star pairs performed CCI4* Test B, which is a stiff challenge in itself, particularly in the canter work.

Tamie Smith and Ruth Bley’s Danito (Dancier – Wie Musk, by Wolkenstein II) were among the earlier rides, and after some coaxing in the warm-up and through the first half of the test, the California-based rider was able to eke out some really lovely moments, including the last half of their canter work. Their score of 28.1 is a shade higher than what we’ve seen them pull in the past (Danito’s personal best at the CCI4* level is a 24.4). We’d likely be looking at a lower score without the additional tension – as Tamie said in the press conference, he’s more than capable of producing a better mark – but in all it was a solid performance that we’ve come to anticipate from this pair to set them in a good position ahead of Saturday’s cross country.

“Danito is actually a bit of a misfit,” Tamie said. “Before I got him, he was a little naughty and difficult and just couldn’t find his way with a different rider.”

Ruth Bley, an all-star amateur rider in her own right, initially intended to send the chestnut Hanoverian gelding to Tamie to sell, but after she took a few rides, Tamie knew she wanted to keep the ride. “I rode him a few times and I really liked I called Ruth to ask if she was sure she wanted to sell him, and she said ‘I don’t know, let’s see what happens.’ Now, two years later, here we are.”

Indeed, Tamie calls Danito a match made in heaven (even confessing to me on a farm visit last summer that he just might be her favorite – shhh, don’t tell Mai Baum), and though he was “very quirky” today, she knows she just needs to keep ticking away with him.

Tamie is one of the busier riders this week, with three rides in the CCI4*-S and one in the CCI5*. She credits her team in the barn and the hour-by-hour schedule she sits down to write out each evening for keeping her on track this week.

Doug Payne and Starr Witness. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Doug Payne and his 2019 Pan American Games partner, Starr Witness (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur) were the next to earn a top score from the judging panel of Mark Weissbecker and Helen Brettell, putting in a smooth and expressive test to also earn a 28.1 on day one.

Owned by Laurie McRee, Catherine Winter and Doug Payne, the 10-year-old KWPN mare continued her trend of scoring above 70%, showing us the consistency she’s become known for as her eventing career has progressed. This is a mare who has quickly made her moves up the levels, having just begun eventing in 2018 after proving to be “too hot” for the hunter ring by former owner Emil Spadone. But thanks to her athletic prowess, she’s taken to her new craft like a fish in water, and Doug says it’s really just been about teaching her the unique nuances of eventing and instilling the confidence she’ll need to continue her upward trajectory.

“She’s wicked smart and quick on her feet,” Doug explained. “The Pan Ams were a big ask, and she stepped up to it and she’s continued to do that…her attitude is such that she wants to try her best, lucky for us she’s an athletic freak and she’s able to accomplish it.”

We’ll see Doug in the CCI5* competition this weekend with Vandiver and Quantum Leap.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Liz Halliday-Sharp brings forward the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Cooley Moonshine (Cobra – Kilpatrick Duchess, by Kings Master), who is also green to the level having just done his first four-star last fall at Tryon. This is one she’s particularly excited about, and to that end she’s really trying to take her time producing him and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to bring him to the biggest atmosphere in the U.S.

It’s not to say that Cooley Moonshine is lacking in competition experience though; he’s competed at Le Lion twice, finishing third and second in 2018 and 2019, respectively, as a six- and seven-year-old.

“He’s a really special horse,” Liz said. “I’ve had him since he was a five-year-old and he went to Le Lion twice, which was really great as a young horse. He’s pretty green still, but I think it’s such a great opportunity to get a horse like him into this atmosphere.”

Liz describes the striking gelding as quite bloody, a bit on the hot side, but he seemed able to put any tension to the side and work through it to also earn a 28.1 mark from the judges.

Above all, all three riders at the top of the CCI4*-S expressed deep gratitude for the fact that the event is running this weekend, thanks in very large part to the efforts of Sara Kozumplik Murphy, Dorothy Crowell, and thousands of private supporters.

“I’m super grateful for the people who got behind it when (EEI) said they weren’t going to run,” Tamie Smith reflected. “Everyone banded together and made a huge effort.”

So, how did the numbers break down? Maggie Deatrick checks in with her analysis:

“The 4*-S pairs who rode this morning had to contend with freezing temperatures and biting wind, and it showed in the scores, with 75% of the field scoring higher than expected, in many cases significantly higher. Four riders should be considerably pleased with their mounts: QC First Class, Landmark’s Monaco, Bogue Sound, and Cooley Moonshine all put in strong above average performances. The extra edge in particular should be exciting for Kimmy Cecere and Landmark’s Monte Carlo, who are strong in the jumping phases. This dressage score, nearly four points better than an average performance for them, potentially allows them to compete for the win this weekend.

The ground jury of Mark Weissbecker and Helen Brettell disagreed by at least 2 percentage points on nine of the twenty pairs to compete today; with three horses (Clip Clop, Bogue Sound, and FRH Ramona) seeing a gap of 4 to 5 percentage points and Trendy Fernhill being a gap of more than 7 points between the two scores. When looking at the overall scores, it can be inferred that Mark Wiessbecker is utilizing his judging scale more conservatively than Helen Brettell, as she has more significantly rewarded higher quality tests but also has given a harder look to those of lesser quality.”

We’re just about to kick off the CCI5* dressage, so be sure to download your copy of our Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE and tune in to both the live stream (linked below) and our live update thread.

Here’s a look at the rest of the top slots in the CCI4*-S, which will resume dressage tomorrow morning.

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LRK3DE CCI5* Dressage Day 1 Open Thread

Boyd Martin and Long Island T. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Welcome to day one of dressage here at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian! It’s rather strange not to be opening up our live updates first thing in the morning, but the CCI4*-S horses and riders took their turn in Rolex Stadium first, leaving the afternoon open for the marquee CCI5* division.

Tilly Berendt and I will be tag-teaming these live updates over the coming days, and we’ll kick things off today with our first pair to see, New Zealand’s Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera at 12:23 p.m. EST. We’ll see horses in groups of seven or eight, concluding at 4:53 p.m. EST with 2018 and 2019 Kentucky winner Cooley Master Class and Great Britain’s Oliver Townend.

If you want to follow along in true eventing nerd fashion, please take a moment to download a copy of EN’s Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE, available as a digital download for just $5 and absolutely full of incredible information, data analysis, graphs on strengths and weaknesses, and much more.

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5.05 p.m. EST: Here’s the leaderboard at the end of the first day of dressage. There’s a seriously tough challenge set for tomorrow’s competitors – but there are a couple who could make a huge impression. Stay tuned for the full report!

5.04 p.m. EST: “I think it was a better test than last time, but it’s a more technical test,” says Oliver, who says the course is the toughest he’s seen at Kentucky. “I’m very happy with the horse, and this won’t be a dressage competition.”

5.01 p.m. EST: It’s a 24.1 for Oliver and Cooley Master Class – the same score they got here in 2019. They’ll sit second overnight.

4.59 p.m. EST: Just a quick reminder that this isn’t even Oliver’s ‘good’ dressage horse here this week.

4.58 p.m. EST: The first change has to be the best one we’ve seen so far today. The second looks pretty excellent too.

4.56 p.m. EST: Only two horses and riders have won Kentucky three times: Kim Severson and Winsome Adante, and Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST. If Oliver wins again this year, only two horses will have won this event since 2015.

4.55 p.m. EST: This horse is truly the Mr Perfect of Oliver’s string, and it’s easy to see why: he comes in with his working hat well in place and absolutely desperate to please his rider. The trot extensions are relaxed and expressive.

4.53 p.m. EST: 32.3 for Will Coleman and Tight Lines sees them go into fifth. One horse and rider left to go, and it’s only our two-time defending champions Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. No big deal, then.

4.51 p.m. EST: Clean changes here – again, that’s the commitment to accuracy coming into play. He’s back here with a point to prove after the flag debacle of 2019, when the biggest issue any of us had was that that rule was a pain in the bum.

4.48 p.m. EST: This horse really proves that Thoroughbreds can MOVE — but Will is also incredibly savvy about his accuracy, with no marks being thrown away unnecessarily.

4.47 p.m. EST: Tight Lines is looking very, very appealing in the trot extension – Will Coleman gives a masterclass in how to channel the energy.

4.45 p.m. EST: The changes haven’t been quite accurate here and will likely prove expensive. Jonelle’s going to be hoping for some serious rain for Saturday so she can make a serious move up the leaderboard after scoring a surprising 35.1.

4.42 p.m. EST:  Jonelle manages the walk bit of this test exceptionally well. Also, can we talk about Jonelle’s hands? The Prices have hands delicate enough to operate on a butterfly. I don’t care if that analogy works or not.

4.40 p.m. EST: What a treat to see this very cool Badminton-winning mare in what could be her last five-star. They’ll be hoping to get her to Burghley – a track that suits her well – this autumn, but nothing is guaranteed with horses, and ‘Molly’ is 18 now.

4.38 p.m. EST: Oh my god, ANOTHER Price test?! We can’t bloomin’ well get rid of them today! (I kid, I kid – next in the ring is Jonelle Price with Classic Moet, my pick for the top-placing mare this week.)

4.36 p.m. EST: That’s the first bit over and done with for Zoe and Zara, who are here to run and jump. They’ve put a 44.9 on the board but we fully expect them to climb during Saturday’s tough challenge.

4.34 p.m. EST: Slightly tricky in the walk work – K.E.C. Zara really wants to break into trot. Now that she’s in the canter, she looks slightly more ready to focus.

4.32 p.m. EST: Time for another of our six rookies – this time it’s Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. This mare looks fit and eager – and rather like she’s wondering where on earth her adoring fans have gone.

4.29 p.m. EST: A bit of a deep breath for Emilee after a lovely final halt – now it’s time for them to focus on the fun stuff. It’s a 34.3 for them.

4.28 p.m. EST: A post-test debrief with new Kentucky leader Marilyn Little:

4.27 p.m. EST: Jakobi is slightly predisposed to overbending in the half-passes and his changes are, well, exuberant – but Emilee is super tactful and is managing him well.

4.22 p.m. EST: Emilee Libby and Jakobi next in. Or is that Emili Libbee and Jakoby? Emily Libbi and Jakobee? In any case, she’s making her return to Kentucky, who last came here when she was a fresh-faced nineteen-year-old.

4.20 p.m. EST: Quite a lot of tension in this test for Nilson and Martini, who will be looking forward to this weekend’s challenge.

4.19 p.m. EST: And here’s debutant Fylicia Barr:

4.16 p.m. EST: Time for some multitasking, folks – let’s watch some interviews while we watch Nilson. Here’s Sharon White:

4.14 p.m. EST: Into seventh on 32.8 for Meghan O’Donoghue and Palmer, who were very accurate and committed to prove that you don’t need a seriously flash mover to get a competitive mark. Nilson Moreira da Silva is up next, riding Magnum’s Martini and representing Brazil.

4.12 p.m. EST: Palmer looks great in the stretchy circle. This strikes me as a horse who would love a bit of Yoga with Adrienne.

4.10 p.m. EST: We’re back for the final session of the day, and Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent are our first pair in the ring. This is a very smart-looking OTTB.

3.55 p.m. EST: Here’s the top ten as we head into the final break of the day:

“She’s wonderful in the heat — we’re from Wellington, so this is really chilly for us,” says Marilyn. “It affected us a little bit — but this is a really fun test to ride on her. She’s a real technician and I’m very lucky. She wouldn’t be the most confident horse by nature but she’s very courageous.”

3.53 p.m. EST: Woweeeee, that’s a 21.7 for Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous – a new Kentucky lead. That’s going to give Oliver Townend and Tamie Smith a job to do!

3.51 p.m. EST: A tasty square halt before the reinback – very correct and statuesque. Have we swapped over to Spanish guitar music now? The flamenco vibes are strong and inexplicable.

3.49 p.m. EST:  The trot work is looking typically expressive and balanced for RF Scandalous thus far, though perhaps missing a tiny bit of the sparkle she can show. But sparkle comes with risk — if you push for that little bit more, you can end up with a break into canter. Sometimes, if you’re on a serious first-phase performer, it’s best to play it safe and trust that you’ll be rewarded sufficiently anyway.

3.47 p.m. EST: 32.4 puts Fylicia Barr into provisional fourth in their first CCI5*! Now it’s time for our last pair before the break – and this should be a huge test. Next in the ring is Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, who like to flirt with those sub-20 marks.

3.45 p.m. EST: A HUGE cheer for Fylicia — despite the lack of crowds — after she finishes that lovely debut test. Our favourite bit? The floppy, happy ears. Extra marks for those, please.

3.44 p.m. EST: Fylicia and Sunny look like they’ve been here a million times before – very cool, calm, and workmanlike. Not too shabby for a gal and her CraigsList horse – and a genuine inspiration for all of us who have devoted ourselves to unlikely horses.

3.41 p.m. EST: Kentucky debutants Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise in the ring now. Fylicia only paid $500 for this feisty mare, who gave her a bit of a tricky time early on but has blossomed into a star. They won Jersey Fresh CCI4*-L in 2019, so it’s incredibly exciting to see them here this week.

3.40 p.m. EST: An update from Mike Pendleton, who Sally has collared in the mixed zone:

3.39 p.m. EST: 40.4 for Joe Meyer and Johnny Royale, who had a bit of a tricky day in the sandbox. Onwards and upwards, folks.

3.36 p.m. EST: Better work from Johnny after he was able to move on up in the medium canter. This isn’t a horse who’s been brought here to lead the dressage, anyway – he’s a running and jumping horse who Joe lovingly describes as a bit of a dumb jock, because he just wants to go fast and chase that adrenaline rush. I can relate.

3.34 p.m. EST: A bit of a tough time in the trot work for Joe and Johnny, who looks quite against the hand. Some wobbles in the walk work, too – just not quite on the same page there.

3.31 p.m. EST: 35.6 for Sharon and Cooley On Show! US-based Kiwi Joe Meyer is next up to bat with Johnny Royale.

3.30 p.m. EST: Poor Sharon. Going off-course is rough. I once nearly got eliminated in a test for going wrong three times, which was also a bummer, because I hadn’t actually forgotten the test – I was just riding it so abysmally that the judge could no longer work out what I was doing.

3.28 p.m. EST: Uh oh, Sharon has forgotten her stretchy circle! This must be the most oft-forgotten movement at this level.

3.27 p.m. EST: Some really nice walk work from Sharon and Cooley On Show, though he struggles with the rein-back as well – honestly, find me a horse who looks like he enjoys that movement. I’ve never seen it look like anything other than an embarrassed camel shuffling backwards out of an occupied bathroom stall.

3.24 p.m. EST: It’s always interesting to see how different five-stars around the world choose their arena music. Kentucky has gone for some vaguely ominous classical music; if you head to Luhmühlen, they pick songs specific to each rider and you’ll definitely hear this at least once:

3.23 p.m. EST: 35.7 for Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby; they’ll have come here very aware that they’ll work on climbing through the weekend. Next up is Sharon White with her longtime partner Cooley On Show. Unicorn vibes are strong.

3.21 p.m. EST: It’s busy down in the mixed zone – here’s what Tim Price had to say:

3.17 p.m. EST: Barnaby looks like he wants to be a bit fussy in the mouth, though he’s stretching to seek the contact well in the walk.

3.15 p.m. EST: We’ve got a score now for Kurt Martin and DeLux Z – they go into seventh place on 33.3. Now we’ve got Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby in the ring. We last saw this seasoned pair at Burghley at the end of 2019, where they stormed around for a great finish in what was an insanely tough year.

3.13 p.m. EST: Steady Eddie has had way too much fun in there – the canter work really progressed and looked super by the end, the final halt was nice, and the second the job was over he put his party pants on. They get a 38.5.

3.09 p.m. EST: A couple of moments of tension in this test, which we’re used to seeing from Steady Eddie (a misnomer perhaps?). But the mileage Mike will be getting is worth way more than a clear round in the dressage.

3.08 p.m. EST: It’s so exciting to see Steady Eddie back in the ring here with rookie Mike Pendleton, who works for Boyd and took the ride over in 2019. What an extraordinary amount of experience this horse brings to the equation – an amazing chance for this up-and-coming rider.

3.05 p.m. EST: “He’s a very loveable horse – he’s been with me since he was three. He came in for breaking and he never left because I liked him so much,” says a rather soppy Tim of Bango. He says the good bits of his test felt like the horse’s personal bests, but they were marred by his tension when he spotted the big screen in the ring – but he’s taking the positives and looking forward to a good week.

3.03 p.m. EST: Another one to just get a bit tense and wobbly in the walk. That rein back is a seriously tough movement and it can really impact the rest of the test – which means that some horses end up losing marks through their canter work, too. Lux looks like he’s taken some snippets of tension into that.

3.01 p.m. EST: Kurt and Lux’s average from their last three Advanced and four-star tests is a 35.5, and that’s looking about right for what we’ve seen so far. Some really nice, relaxed work, but those sub-30s aren’t being given freely.

3.00 p.m. EST: Kurt Martin and DeLux Z in next. This is one of the best jumping horses in the field, and undeservedly flies a little under the radar. His team at home probably with he was a little less talented, mind you – he’s known as ‘Flight Risk’ because he likes to escape his stable or jump out of his paddock and take himself on adventures.

2:58 p.m. EST: 31.5 for Tim and Bango. Our Ultimate Form Guide put them on a 31.9 – it’s been fascinating today to see which horses are under- or overperforming.

2:57 p.m. EST: Tim, like wife Jonelle, will be hoping for heavy rain on Saturday — Bango is a proper Irish lad and thrives in boggy conditions. After those little bobbles in the walk, he’ll probably need to think about how he can climb.

2:55 p.m. EST: The walk work will be a little — dare I say it? — Price-y here. There’s just a wee bit too much enthusiasm for the job, which is admirable considering we’re in the going-in-circles bit. Canter work is looking better though – Tim has probably got the softest hands in the world, and it shows in how secure his horses are in the contact.

2:54 p.m. EST: It’s admittedly reassuring to see that even five-star horses rub out half their manes over the winter. I’ve been to Tim and Jonelle’s Wiltshire farm, and like most Kiwi riders, they’re really keen on a lot of turnout there – even if it means a bit of a mane rub here and there.

2:51 p.m. EST: First in after the beverage break will be the second of approximately 487 rides for the Price family this week – it’s Tim this time and his stalwart campaigner Bango. He might not have been as resolutely high-profile as Ringwood Sky Boy, for example, but Bango has been here, there, and everywhere, and he really knows his stuff.

2:46 p.m. EST: Hi folks! Your faithful British correspondent Tilly Berendt here, tapping in so Sally can go down to the mixed zone and get some juicy gossip out of the riders. I, for one, am TERRIBLY EXCITED to chat about some horse prancing with you guys this afternoon. Hope you’ve all got good snacks and drinks to hand. If not, may I suggest one of my delicious (and dangerous) Kentucky-themed beverages? My favourite is the Jollybo-bon Smash. Go hard or (and) go (stay) home.

2:26 p.m. EST: “Louie Pi” has quite a deliberate way of going, very correct. He’s another one that doesn’t look too perturbed by the big arena atmosphere.

GIF via USEF Network.

2:25 p.m. EST: A 37.8 for Daniela Moguel and Cecelia. Next in will be Lauren Nicholson (nee Kieffer) and the stunning Paramount Importance.

2:18 p.m. EST: Next in will be our lone Mexican representatives, Daniela Moguel and Cecelia. Danny compares Cecelia to a “Karen” or to Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada, to give you a sense of personality! “The service in this barn sucks, I need a manager!” I am referencing my Ultimate Form Guide to pull in these fun facts – see for yourself here.

2:18 p.m. EST: A look at the current top 10:

2:16 p.m. EST: “It’s great to be back here; you guys have done an incredible job getting this show on the road because not much is happening in the UK,” William said after his test. “(Oratorio) hasn’t been to a big party in a long time. He was really good, there’s nothing more I could’ve asked.

“It means the world, I’ve been producing him all his career and he hasnt done anything for so long so im excited to have a competition of this caliber to come to and aim to. It’s just fantastic here, when you come back, you just remember how magical this place here. its a big part of our eventing calendar.”

2:14 p.m. EST: Wizzerd shows his extended canter after some exuberant changes. A 32.8 for Matt and Wizzerd.

GIF via USEF Network.

2:09 p.m. EST: Next in will be Matt Flynn and Wizzerd, making their second appearance in Kentucky.

2:06 p.m. EST: Oratorio is putting in perhaps the most relaxed test we’ve seen so far. His ears were basically flopping the whole time! That relaxation pays off, and they earn a 28.0 to just squeak into the lead ahead of Boyd and Long Island T. Oratorio was averaging a 27.7 in his last three runs, so he’s right on target.

GIF via USEF Network.

2:01 p.m. EST: Peep that helmet! Looking good William.

1:59 p.m. EST: Corvett is ready to jump!

gIF Via USEF Network.

1:53 p.m. ET: Low key, every photographer here is excited to shoot “Barry” as he pings over the jumps.

Emily Hamel and Corvett. Photo by Shelby Allen.

1:50 p.m. EST: Karl Slezak looks thrilled! A nice, obedient yet from this pair. We’ll soon see a familiar face here, William Fox-Pitt and Oratorio II. Of note this weekend is the fact the top hats, as of this year, are no longer permitted in the dressage. William is a traditionalist at heart, so it’s going to be strange (but great!) seeing him in a helmet for the first time at this venue! But first!! A debut from Emily Hamel and Corvett.

GIF via USEF Network.

1:46 p.m. EST: Phillip checks in with the mixed zone after his ride on Fernhill Singapore:

1:45 p.m. EST: In honor of Karl’s test…

1:44 p.m. EST: Hear from Boyd after his test with Long Island T:

1:43 p.m. EST: We’ll now see Canada’s Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes making their debut here together.

1:41 p.m. EST: Hawley and John liken this test with its intensity to a short-format cross country, with no time to regroup between movements. Got a tense horse? Good luck? Got a five-star fit horses? Sayonara. We’re seeing that really come in to play today. Liz Halliday-Sharp wraps up a lovely test with a bit of tension from the young Cooley Quicksilver, scoring a 34.0.

GIF via USEF Network.

1:39 p.m. EST: Doug checks in after his test with Vandiver:

1:37 p.m. EST: We’ll now see Liz Halliday-Sharp with the five-star debutant, Cooley Quicksilver.

1:36 p.m. EST: A quick scratch for “Foxy” after a solid test! They’ll score a 34.8 for fourth place early on.

1:33 p.m. EST: Hawley Bennett-Awad now joins John Kyle in the commentary booth.

1:32 p.m. EST: “Foxy” looks to be fairly relaxed in this test, and Jennie as always looks happy to be here!

1:30 p.m. EST: And we’re back underway with Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle.

1:28 p.m. EST: Doug says he’s honestly a bit disappointed in the mark, given how good Vandiver has been coming into today. “He was just lit to start, I’m proud of him though…I think he got a bit more rideable and softer,” he said. “He’s been pretty consistently good everywhere. He’s come out this spring as strong as he’s ever been. It is what it is, I think. That’s the life with horses.”

1:25 p.m. EST: An interesting note about Vandiver’s score, as Maggie Deatrick ran the numbers: Vandiver’s score may seem high for him but in fact is dot on his average at the 5* level.

1:19 p.m. EST: We’ll resume at 1:29 with Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle.

1:18 p.m. EST: Vandiver will take a higher score, a 35.3, than what Doug will have wanted into the next phase, but we know this horse is a strong jumper.

1:15 p.m. EST: A bit more spookiness from Vandiver than what we’re typically used to seeing, but he executed some clean changes that will bump the score down (up? eventing dressage is weird) a bit.

1:13 p.m. EST: Doug and “Quinn” show their half-pass. Vandiver is showing just a bit of tension here, as are most horses, but we know Doug’s capable of coaxing the best from an excited horse. You’re 16, Quinn!!

GIF via USEF Network.

1:10 p.m. EST: Next in are Doug Payne and Vandiver, who are averaging a 27.5 in their last three runs. This partnership is among the most experienced at this level this week.

1:08 p.m. EST: A 39.4 and a new personal best for Leah and AP Prime – this pair will likely be a fun one to watch on Saturday!

1:07 p.m. EST: “He’s a nice, beefy looking Thoroughbred, isn’t he?” Allison Springer says on the live stream about AP Prime. He indeed is, and he looks fantastic in his first five-star appearance since 2018.

1:06 p.m. EST: #BREAKING: The challenge has been issued, Will.

1:04 p.m. EST: Peep that Ultimate Form Guide being used as a reference for the commentators! That definitely means you need it.

1:02 p.m. EST: A 35.0 for Fernhill Singapore, definitely a touch high but surely will see even more to come from this younger talent. Next in will be Leah Lang Gluscic and her superstar OTTB, AP Prime.

12:58 p.m. EST: A lovely half-pass from Fernhill Singapore:

GIF via USEF Network.

12:56 p.m. EST: Pats for Jak and a 34.5 for this pair.

12:56 p.m. EST: Next in will be Phillip and Fernhill Singapore, his first ride of the weekend. This pair is averaging a 27.1 in their last three runs – look for a competitive score here too, no doubt.

12:54 p.m. EST: I actually didn’t notice, but Boyd lost his stirrup for a few of the last movements, but lucky his legs are about 8 feet long so the stirrup is basically an afterthought.

12:53 p.m. EST: A peek at EN headquarters here in the media center! I’m all set up for my live updates with our Ultimate Form Guide, a GIF-making app, an order of go, and enough coffee and water to keep me surviving.

12:52 p.m. EST: Trending about 65% for Buck and Jak as they come into their final change and up centerline. His changes were clean, a great way to end the test despite the tension.

12:51 p.m. EST: Buck is working hard to coax Jak into some relaxation – he’s certainly fit and ready to go cross country but he’s trying to listen as well as he can.

12:50 p.m. EST: A look at which judge is where for the five-star:

12:47 p.m. EST: We will next see the first of Buck Davidson’s rides, Jak My Style, who will be seeking his first five-star completion this weekend. Jak is a sweet guy who often takes owner Kat Cuca for hacks, but trust me he can turn it on when he needs to!

12:46 p.m. EST: And a 28.2 – nearly an FEI personal best for Long Island T. Not a bad debut at the level!

12:44 p.m. EST: A really solid test for Long Island T, who we should see slot easily into the very early lead here. A look at his final extended canter:

12:41 p.m. EST: Boyd and Long Island T are averaging a 31.1 in their last three Advanced/four-star runs and are well-known for scoring well on the flat.

12:40 p.m. EST: We go now to the first ride for Boyd Martin and Long Island T, or “Ludwig” as we like to call him. He’s off to a solid start, connected in the bridle and coming through his hind end.

12:39 p.m. EST: A 37.8 for Will and DonDante. If you’re a scoring nerd, the scoring updates will allow you to see each movement and judge’s marks for each pair. Click here to see live scores.

12:36 p.m. EST: DonDante, making his five-star debut in the chilly wind, is a bit nervous today – as we anticipated – but Will gives him a tactful and quiet ride.

12:30 p.m. EST: A 35.6 to start the day for Grappa Nera and Jonelle, her first of three rides. We’ll next see Will Coleman and the absolutely stunning DonDante.

12:24 p.m. EST: And we are off with New Zealand rider Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera!

The Eventing Nation Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE Has Landed: Get It Here!

We are thrilled to unveil the result of the last few weeks of hard work that the EN team has put in to create the Ultimate Form Guide to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian. In thinking of our Kentucky coverage this year, and knowing there would be no spectators in attendance, we wanted to create a true companion guide for everyone from the most rabid, eventing-obsessed fan to the casual follower who just figured out what a horse is this week.

Here’s a little preview of what you get in your guide, which has been optimised for use across mobile, tablet, and desktop – it’s not a snack; baby, it’s the whole damn meal.

Without further ado, we present the Ultimate Form Guide, now available for purchase on Issuu. Inside, you’ll find a two-page spread on each horse and rider entered in the CCI5*, complete with visual graphics analyzing the pair’s recent results and competitive strengths/weaknesses. We wanted you to feel like you could get to know each pair just a little better, so look for a tidbit on each rider and horse’s story as you flip through in order of draw. We recommend downloading the free Issuu app for ease of use – you can find it in the App store.

A portion of proceeds from the sale of the Ultimate Form Guide will be donated to an equestrian access program or nonprofit serving underrepresented demographics.

We hope that this companion guide helps bring you a little closer to the action this weekend, and it wouldn’t have come to fruition without the brilliance of the entire team, most notably Tilly Berendt, Shelby Allen, Maggie Deatrick, Abby Powell, and Kate Samuels.

Happy reading, and Go Eventing!

Vote for the ‘Flyest Horse at Kentucky’ Groom’s Award

Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent. Photo by Shelby Allen.

We spend a lot of time talking about fashion choices and trot-up outfits at a five-star, but let’s take some time to celebrate the hardworking grooms of Kentucky! We love seeing horses turned out to the nines, and inevitably there is always a team of people dedicated to each horse’s happiness and wellbeing during an event.

We’ve teamed up with Ecovet and Horse & Rider Books, and a gift certificate from SmartPak to offer up a small token of thanks to the grooms at Kentucky this week, and our team has narrowed down the field (truthfully, it was basically impossible – you all did such a great job) to bring you the finalists. The winning groom will receive a gallon of Ecovet Fly Spray to help make the upcoming summer more bearable as well as a copy each of World Class Grooming and World Class Braiding from Horse & Rider Books. Not that any of these top grooms need any help, but the expertise of Emma Ford and Cat Hill can never lead you astray!

Here are the finalists for the Flyest Horse at Kentucky Groom’s Award, as well as some shots from “behind the runway” on a chilly day! Voting will close at the conclusion of Thursday’s dressage at 5 p.m. EST!

Now cast your vote! We’ll close the poll tomorrow and announce the winner!

It was hard to catch the horses after the jogs before they were quickly blanketed or led away, but enjoy some more tidbits from behind the scenes:

Posted by Jj Jayhawk Sillman on Wednesday, April 21, 2021

All 63 CCI5* Horses Pass First Horse Inspection at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

Ema Klugman & Bendigo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

63 up and 63 down, with no interruptions, was the name of the game for the First Horse Inspection at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian. No pairs were held for re-inspection, making it a smooth and drama-free (well, as drama-free as 63 five-star fit event horses can be, really) trot-up to officially kick things off during this very strange Kentucky weekend.

We woke up this morning to a nice, heavy blanket of snow and frigid temperatures that kept us hunkering down inside until the very last possible second. But once 3 p.m. rolled around, it seemed the April weather gods took pity on us and brought up the temperature a bit to make the jog actually more on the pleasant side. It was surely strange, though, not having to elbow through a crowd of people just to get a view of the strip. Jury’s still out on how I feel about that!

A sparse jog strip full of just owners and media! Photo by Sally Spickard.

We’re currently compiling our staff picks for the “Flyest Horse at Kentucky” Groom’s Award, after which we’ll turn over the finalists to you all for voting. The winning groom (and let’s be honest: they ALL deserve lots of prizes for the five-star care they’re giving this weekend) will receive a gallon of EcoVet Fly Spray as well as a copy of World Class Grooming and World Class Braiding from Horse & Rider Books. Not that these guys and gals need any tips, but hey, a groom can never have enough tools.

Fashion was also, as per usual, on display during the trot-up, making us momentarily forget the fact that our toes are all but frozen off starting off the day. Keep scrolling for some of our favorite trot-up looks from the day!

Dressage begins tomorrow bright and early at 7:59 a.m. EST with the CCI4*-S riders in Rolex Stadium. We’ll then switch gears midday to see the first half of the CCI5* field at 12:15 p.m. EST. We’ll post ride times in the widget on our homepage as soon as they’re made available.

Thanks for tuning in with us! Don’t forget to download your copy of EN’s Ultimate Form Guide to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, available as a digital download for just $5 and the perfect companion to all things Kentucky this week.

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, 5* Entries, 4* Entries, Schedule, North America Live Stream, Worldwide Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

Fashion Shout-outs:

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Anna Siemer and FRH Butt’s Avondale. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Sydney Elliot and QC Diamantaire. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Liz Halliday Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Lauren Nicholson and Paramount Importance. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Harry Meade and Superstition. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The EN Team Makes Their #LRK3DE21 Picks

It’s time for the EN team to make their ultra-scientific picks for this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian using a bizarre method of numerology, runes and feelings. If you’d like to take a crack at picking the winner, might we suggest using our super-handy Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE, which can be downloaded here for just $5 (a portion of which will go to an equestrian access program!).

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, 5* Entries, 4* Entries, Schedule, North America Live Stream, Worldwide Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter


Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Big Winner: Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class

Top American: Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z

Top Canadian: Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue D’Argouges

Spoiler Alert: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum

Top Thoroughbred: Will Coleman and Tight Lines

Best Mare: Jonelle Price and Classic Moet

Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam. Photo by Tilly Berendt.


Big Winner: Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam

It’s hard to bet against Oliver Townend, who brings forward both his two-time reigning champion and his nigh-on unbeatable Burghley winner. But it’s also quite hard to be smug about correctly picking the favourite to win, and what’s the point of picking a winner at all if not to get the chance to gloat relentlessly at the end of it all? And so I’m going to go for a pair who I’d love to see take it – in fact, when they planned to compete here last year, I texted the rest of the EN team on Slack and called them as my winner then and there. It might be a long shot against Oliver, but the Kentucky crown, for me, goes to Australia’s Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam. The horse still lacks a bit of experience but he’s been exceptional at both his five-stars at Pau, finishing in the top ten in his debut and losing out on a placing last year with some annoying time penalties picked up while trying to avoid crossing his tracks. Don’t let that put you off: this course was made for this keen, clever little horse and Kevin has undeservedly flown under the radar for way too long: after all, he’s the man responsible for producing the likes of Jock Paget and Chris Burton. Don Quidam WILL win a five-star in his career – and I’d definitely feel smug if it was this one.

Top American: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum

There are some serious heavy-hitters fighting it out to become the US National Champion this year, and any one of them is good enough that they could even win it all. My heart is torn between Tamie Smith and Mai Baum and Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z, though in the end, Tamie just edges it for me with those sub-20 dressage scores. It feels like her moment for a big one is overdue, and as the daughter of a hardworking single mum, I’m ready to scream myself hoarse cheering on this extraordinary woman who balanced creating a top-level career with raising her equally remarkable daughter, Kaylawna, AND pursuing an education. She’s an inspiration and an exceptional talent, and at the end of the day, I want the fairytale story, not the algorithms.

Top Canadian: Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo

My vote for this would previously have gone to Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration, who I’ve had the honour of reporting on in Europe – but sadly, ‘Morris’ was found to have a heart murmur when being inspected upon arrival at the horse park, and Holly made the very hard, but absolutely correct, decision to retire him immediately from his competitive career. My thoughts are with Holly and I hope Morris has the loveliest of retirements. In their stead, I put forward Hawley Bennett-Awad and tiny, feisty Jollybo, who was actually sourced by my trainer and landlord Kate Tarrant, so we all cheer her on here in the UK. She’s exactly my type of gritty, gutsy, doesn’t-know-she’s-tiny kind of mare, and I think she’ll gobble this track up to climb through the week.

Spoiler Alert: Anna Siemer and FRH Butt’s Avondale

I’m going to cheat and put forward two. Germany’s Anna Siemer and FRH Butt’s Avondale really impressed me at the European Championships in 2019, where they climbed and climbed to best some of the continent’s best pairs. They have a great relationship and are likely to give us one of the rounds of the day on Saturday. Likewise, New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell and Diachello look on great form, but have gone under the radar because Jesse has put horsemanship top of his priority list, purring his horse along at four-star rather than running hell-bent for leather. He rates the gelding highly, and I’m with him on that. Both these horses could do big things this week.

Top Thoroughbred: Tight Lines (Will Coleman)

I want to see redemption for Will Coleman and Tight Lines, who were victims of 2019’s highly controversial flag rule but who have been class throughout their upper-level partnership. He’s a real trier, and this pair have a great partnership, so if Derek has been flexing his muscles ahead of Tokyo while designing this course, I think we could see them make a real move.

Best Mare: Classic Moet (Jonelle Price)

Jonelle Price’s Classic Moet is looking like more and more of a sure thing as this snow keeps on falling, and rain on Saturday is a good omen, too. Classic Moet won’t lead the dressage but she’s undoubtedly one of the best cross-country horses in the world, so she needs a tough track with a difficult time and tricky footing in order to truly shine. In those conditions, she can run circles around most horses, and that could create a match-race between her and Ballaghmor Class, which would make the final phase – a slightly weaker point for both horses – achingly exciting.


Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Big Winner: Phillip Dutton and Z

To some extent I can’t believe I’m picking an American to take the win this year but I’ve crunched the numbers and was ultimately surprised to see the result. However Z is hitting his prime and firing on all cylinders at the moment, and it is only fitting that the same transplanted American who last won our own 5* prior to the drought of American wins be the one to bring us out of it. Phillip Dutton might be thirteen years older than he was but he’s also thirteen years better. Having said that, there are about eight or nine horses who will be within a rail of each other vying for the win, so ultimately it’s going to be a nail-biter.

Top American: Phillip Dutton and Z

See above.

Top Canadian: Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue D’Argouges

Colleen and her longtime partner Qorry Blue D’Argouges are good in every phase. That will be enough to put them at the top of the Canadians but unfortunately being good in every phase will not be enough to be supremely competitive in the field at large this weekend.

Spoiler Alert: Off the Record and Will Coleman or Mai Baum and Tamie Smith….or both

I know it’s cheating to pick two but these are some of the most exciting horses we’ve had in American in a long time. The long-awaited 5* debut of Mai Baum has been greatly anticipated and with good reason; the horse has almost a flawless A/4* record and is good enough on the flat to possibly take the lead position after dressage, new to this level or not. But Off the Record is equally exciting, a horse with a reputation for finishing on his dressage score. He’s finished in the top three in all but three of his completions and has never been outside the top ten at A/4*.

Top Thoroughbred: Tight Lines and Will Coleman

Unfortunately I don’t think the Thoroughbreds in the field are going to fare terribly well this year; the best hopes the breed has for a top placing is from Tight Lines. While his speed is top notch and his stadium record fairly strong at the 5* level, his uneven performances on cross-country make a big question mark for Saturday. If he can shake off the bad luck he’s had at the level, we may see him in contention for something in the top ten.

Best Mare: RF Scandalous and Marilyn Little

This mare’s uncanny ability to lay down incredible test after incredible test is combines well with her ability to jump clear rounds in the stadium phase to give this pair a little bit of leeway on the cross country. Ultimately, the question is how much leeway will they need, with rain predicted for Saturday’s course.


Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges. Photo by Leslie Thelkeld.

Big Winner: Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class

I don’t feel like this is going to be the year for an American winner, unfortunately. Not with the biggest field from overseas that we’ve seen in … ever? I think? How do I even choose between Oliver Townend, Jonelle Price and Tim Price and their combo of horses? To be fair though, it’s pretty darn hard to bet against Ballaghmor Class and those dressage scores paired with the likelihood that he’ll have good jumping rounds too.

Top American: Likely Boyd Martin or Marilyn Little, if the European contingent can be topped. Tamie Smith or Liz Halliday-Sharp could give them a run for it though!

Top Canadian: Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges

While we’ve sadly had a couple Canadian withdrawals from the original entry list already, I’d put my money on Colleen Loach and her Olympic and WEG partner Qorry Blue d’Argouges.

Spoiler Alert: Sydney Elliot and QC Diamantaire

This will be the first five-star for “Q”, I just think he’s such a cool horse and looking in great form. Will Coleman and Off the Record, another really great horse who is new to the level, could very well sneak up on us too.

Top Thoroughbred: Tight Lines (Will Coleman)

The veteran of Will’s three rides in this competition, could be pretty high up the leaderboard at the end of the competition. I bet they’ll be the top Thoroughbred finisher and maybe then some.

Best Mare: Grappa Nera (Jonelle Price)

I’m really looking forward to watching Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera go. Aside from Marilyn and RF Scandalous, I think are strong contenders for this title.


Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Big Winner: Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class

Although I don’t usually bet on the favorite, it’s hard to dismiss Oliver and Thomas. Their two day total should give them enough breathing room to tip a rail on Sunday and still take home the win.

Top American: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum

I’m going out on a limb with this one and saying I think it’s time for Lexus to shine in all three phases. It’s a big ask, but with a horse like that, why not?

Top Canadian: Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes

Even though it’s a first 5* for both Karl and “Chocy”, they’re incredibly consistent in both jumping phases, and will move up the leaderboard nicely.

Spoiler Alert: Will Coleman and Off the Record

“Timmy” can hang with the best of them in all three phases, and as Will’s third ride of the day, he will benefit from the best guidance he can get in all three phases.

Top Thoroughbred: Tight Lines (Will Coleman)

“Phish” has had bad luck on cross country for such a good jumping horse, but I think the quieter atmosphere and a few more years under his belt will serve him well this weekend and he will get his rightful part of the spotlight.

Best Mare: Classic Moet (Jonelle Price)

It looks like rain on Saturday and we all know Molly loves nothing more than everyone else struggling in the mud, because she positively skips over the ground in her unorthodox way. I’m betting on her as a sentimental note, as this may well be the mare’s last hurrah at the level.


Tamie Smith and Mai Baum (USA). Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Big Winner: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum

As a California transplant, I have to put my hat in the ring for one of our Westies, Tamie Smith and the big black stallion, Mai Baum. Tamie brought approximately 385 horses to the East coast this spring between herself and her daughter and fellow upper-level rider Kaylawna Smith-Cook, and the trip is nearly at its end this week as Mai Baum makes his long-awaited five-star debut. I first fell in love with “Lexus” when I saw his owner and former pilot Alex Ahearn competing at the American Eventing Championships way back in…2013? There’s just something about this guy – and while I think the challenge is stiff, what with the weather and the tough competition, this dynamic duo is due for a big moment and this weekend could surely turn out to be just that.

Top American: Doug Payne and Vandiver

It’s hard to bet against experience, and I think you could easily make an argument to put this pair in the “Big Winner” category. Doug and “Quinn” are among the most experienced pair in the field this year, and with Doug’s penchant for going fast and Derek di Grazia’s penchant for designing courses that all but beg you to attack them, we should see some special riding skills on display come Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this pair make an improvement on their previous personal best third place finish here in 2019.

Top Canadian: Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes

While this is a five-star debutante pair, I’m going with Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes for this category. And no, it’s not because Karl loves Nickelback (or maybe it is. Hero? That song was a bop), but rather it’s because of the consistency this pair has shown as they’ve methodically moved up the levels in preparation for this weekend. We won’t necessarily see this pair show off blinding speed on Saturday, but they’ve got a great shot to come home clear and leave the poles in their cups on Sunday.

Spoiler Alert: Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class

Yes, I know Oliver can hardly be called a spoiler, but I’m sticking with my weird, feelings-based picks ok? I’d be remiss not to mention an overseas entrant in my picks, as we know how well the UK and European pairs tend to fare in Kentucky. It’s honestly a toss-up between Kentucky winner Cooley Master Class and Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class (really, Oliver, share some with the rest of us will you?), but I’m going to go with Ballaghmor Class for our Spoiler Alert who could well just take home the whole dang pie this weekend. You can bet that Oliver won’t bat an eye at some slop on Saturday, which could play out to be a huge advantage when push comes to shove.

Top Thoroughbred: AP Prime

I’m going with a sentimental pick here, but it’s so great to see AP Prime back out and thriving with his longtime partner, Leah Lang-Gluscic. Leah is a fellow Midwesterner and has produced this OTTB from the very start. Now he’s back in Kentucky for the first time in 2018, though that year the pair wouldn’t complete. This is a fun horse to watch on cross country day, and you really can’t beat an AP Indy grandson representing the incredible Thoroughbred so my hat’s off to this pair!

Best Mare: Classic Moet

The EN team has been rolling their eyes at me all week while I fan-girl gushed over the thought of finally seeing Classic Moet in person. This fiery mare should put on an absolute masterclass of how to go really fast across the country, and particularly if she manages a clear show jumping round on Sunday I think there’s every bit of chance that “Molly”, at the age of 18 years young, clinches another five-star win or at least a podium finish.


Chinch says: WEAR YO’ MASK!!!!! (And no, you aren’t seeing double, I had this bad boy custom printed.) Photo courtesy of Leslie Wylie.

As caboose of this crazy train, per tradition I am conscientiously objecting from picks and simply wishing every last horse and rider a safe, happy 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Let’s do this thing. Go Eventing!

Wednesday News & Notes from Haygain

Happy Kentucky jog day! The EN team has safely landed in Kentucky and last night we launched the Ultimate Form Guide to LRK3DE, a special exclusive companion guide to this weekend absolutely full of information including analysis of past performance, visual graphics outlining competitive strengths and weaknesses, stories and fun facts about each rider — and much more. You can download your own copy for just $5 by clicking here. We’ll be donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of the Ultimate Form Guide to an equestrian access program or nonprofit, so it’s for a great cause, too!

We have way more information and coverage than you probably need coming your way beginning with today’s First Horse Inspection at 3 p.m. Leslie Wylie, Shelby Allen and I will be hitting the grounds later on today — stay tuned for much more coming soon! Thanks for following along with us.

It’s also an exciting time for Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE), which sponsored the “Behind the Barn” episode featuring Buck Davidson – an interview you will not want to miss — and featured an incredible ad created by the SEE team:

U.S. Weekend Preview:

#LRK3DE21: Website, EN’s Ultimate Form Guide, 5* Entries, 4* Entries, Schedule, North America Live Stream, Worldwide Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Spring H.T.: [Website] [Entries]

Stable View Spring H.T.: [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times]

Wednesday News & Notes:

Don’t miss out on EN’s wall-to-wall coverage of Kentucky! In addition to our Ultimate Form Guide, we’re also offering a FREE Daily Digest email as well as some extra content exclusively for our Patreon supporters. Don’t worry, all of our normal coverage will be available right here on EN as always – click here to learn more about what else we’ve got up our sleeves.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to enter our FLAIR Strips Pick ‘Em & Win contest – entries close at noon today, so get them in soon! Enter here.

“It’s the hope that kills you.” This poignant quote leads off a great piece from Michelle Dunn, who can typically be found (wo)manning the media center at Kentucky but who will sadly not be in attendance this year. She writes about what it’s like to experience Kentucky (and all of the feelings that come with it) here.

This great piece from Practical Horseman goes inside the minds of Jim Wofford and Kentucky course designer Derek Di Grazia – don’t miss it!

Did you know that many riders competing at Kentucky this weekend use Haygain? It’s always interesting to hear feedback from top riders on how different products help their program, and Haygain’s ease of use for steaming hay has worked wonders for horses’ sensitive respiratory systems. Read more here.

Finally, don’t forget to shop Kentucky’s Virtual Vendor Village all week! Lots of great vendors to support here – even if it’s not quite the same as arm wrestling someone for the last pair of reins in the Stubben booth.

Wednesday Video Break: A little trip down memory lane for you…

Enter to Win the 10th Annual Land Rover Kentucky Top Dog Photo Contest, Presented by VIP Equestrian

Indy, 2017 Top Dog Contest winner! Photo by Rachael Leneweaver.

It’s another weird year in the eventing world, but we’re nonetheless thrilled that the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian is set to go forward this week. In true Kentucky week fashion, we’re bringing back the much-loved Top Dog contest with a new prize this year: a new saddle pad from VIP Equestrian!

If you haven’t met the VIP Equestrian pad yet, you’re definitely in for a cool treat. This pad is not like anything else we’ve seen before, and we’re anxious to get our hands on one to try it out.

Just 8 mm thick and made from proprietary viscoelastic polymer that won’t stick or gum, the VIP Equestrian pad adds weight distribution and relieves pressure points without compromising saddle fit. It’s true that a pad should never interfere with your saddle’s fit – and in many cases, a properly fitted saddle should not require additional padding. The intention of the VIP Equestrian saddle pad is to provide an option for pressure point relief and shock absorption without changing the fit of a saddle.

The VIP Equestrian Pad retails for $179.95 and has been tested and endorsed by riders such as Phillip Dutton and Daniela Moguel. We’ve teamed up with VIP Equestrian to give away a pad (in the color and size of the winner’s choice) to the eventual winner of this year’s Top Dog contest!

Since there (sadly) will not be dogs in attendance as spectators this year, we’re turning the photo challenge over to you at home! Here’s what you’ll need to do to enter:

  • First, make sure you are following both Eventing Nation and VIP Equestrian North America on Instagram (@goeventing / and/or Facebook (@eventingnation /
  • Snap a photo of your dog hanging out with you watching the live stream or following the Kentucky action in some way
  • Post your photo on social media and tag Eventing Nation and VIP Equestrian North America – make sure your post is public so we can see it! Use #VIPKYTopDog in your post.
  • We’ll pull together the entries after April 26 and compile them into a voting post
  • Our apologies, but at this time this contest eligibility is open only to U.S. residents

Good luck! Go Eventing.

It’s Time! Enter the 10th Annual Kentucky Pick ‘Em & Win Contest, Presented by FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

We’re back! Finally! We are so pleased to be able to offer a real live Pick ‘Em contest for this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian.

Up for grabs this year is a FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips Prize pack with 2 6-packs of FLAIR Strips as well as a FLAIR towel. All you need to do to enter is to input your pick of the winning horse and rider, as well as your prediction for their finishing score, in the embedded form below.

If we have more than one correct answer for the winning pair, the closest score (without going over the final score) will win. If there is more than one finalist, we will do a random drawing from that pool.

Entries for this contest are due by Wednesday, April 21 at 12 pm EST. We will announce the winner on Monday, April 26.

Our apologies, but at this time this contest is open to U.S. residents only.

ENTRIES CLOSED!Good luck everyone!

Good luck!

Coming Soon: EN’s Ultimate Wall-to-Wall Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Coverage

Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t holding my breath and crossing my fingers for the last few weeks, watching the calendar tick down to this year’s long-awaited Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian. Thanks to the massive efforts of thousands of eventing participants and supporters, the event — which originally was set to cancel for the second year in a row — was able to pull together enough funding to make this coming week happen.

While spectators are sadly still prohibited by US Equestrian, the Eventing Nation team is looking forward to bringing eventing fans the world over the Kentucky coverage you’ve come to anticipate in some fresh and exciting new ways. Don’t worry — nothing regarding our traditional coverage (daily reports, live updates and more) is changing. We want to bring you to Kentucky with us, so all of our regular coverage will be available right here on EN all week long.

But we did want to add some new pieces to the party this year! So we’re excited to offer three supplements to our Kentucky coverage:

1. Meet the EN Ultimate Guide to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

A preview of just some of the information that will be found on each rider’s two-page spread inside EN’s Ultimate Form Guide.

What started as a whim of an idea in a daily Slack chat quickly evolved, in true EN fashion, into a massive project, and we’re pleased to present the very first Ultimate Guide to Land Rover Kentucky. Featuring in this slick, downloadable guide are profiles on every horse and rider entered in this year’s CCI5*, complete with statistics on each pair’s performance leading up to this week, fun facts, and analysis. Learn a little bit about your favorite pair — and maybe even “meet” a new rider or horse you’ll be a fan of forever.

You’ll get a sense of the competitive strengths and weaknesses of each pair in each phase, their history together and much more in this guide, meant to be a true companion for those following along with the competition via the USEF Network (in North America)/Horse & Country TV (internationally) live stream.

The Ultimate Guide will be available for sale very soon through Issuu and will cost just $5 to purchase. The Ultimate Guide is mobile and desktop friendly, and Issuu also has a great free app that makes the user experience even better. We’re also honored to donate a portion of proceeds to an equestrian access program or nonprofit in an effort to, in a small way, help welcome more people into our community. To nominate a nonprofit program (we’d like to keep the programs focused on access to horses for underserved populations), please email [email protected].

2. Want to stay the most up to date on what’s happening in Kentucky? Sign up for the FREE LRK3DE Daily Digest, a daily email newsletter that will land in your inbox early each morning beginning Thursday, April 22 full of coverage links from the day before, a preview of the day’s action, and much more. We’re also partnering with Achieve Equine (VIP Equestrian and FLAIR Strips), EcoVet, Kentucky Performance Products, Legends Horse Feeds and Pro Elite Feeds to offer up some great prizes all week long — just by signing up (you can use the embedded form below), you’ll be entered into a drawing to receive a prize!

3. If you haven’t become a Patreon supporter for EN, now might be your time! While all of our standard coverage will always be available on EN, we’re planning some exclusive interviews and other tidbits just for our Patreon Facebook group members. Patreon tiers start at just $5 a month, and you can sign up to become a member here. P.S.: All Patreon will receive a discount code for EN’s Ultimate Guide to Land Rover Kentucky!

Click here to learn more about EN’s Patreon, and click here to become a Patron.

I am thrilled to be working alongside my co-editor, Leslie Wylie, as well as our intrepid reporters/photographers Shelby Allen and Tilly Berendt — and with Maggie Deatrick and Abby Powell supporting remotely — on the ground in Kentucky. It’s a true honor to work with this team, who has put their heart and soul into our Kentucky content, and to be able to bring you the Kentucky coverage you deserve. We wish you could be there with us, but we hope we can at least make you feel as close to being there as possible.

See you soon! Go eventing.

Land Rover Rookies: Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride and Favian

Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride and Favian. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride never thought she would be 40 and doing her first five-star. It doesn’t seem that long ago – but all at once also feels like a lifetime ago – that a younger Valerie was hip-deep in the sport, working with Karen O’Connor and planning out her life full of top-level horses and accomplishments.

But of course, with horses life hardly ever goes to plan. And it’s why Valerie now carries an overwhelming sense of pure gratitude for both her horse of a lifetime, Favian, as well as for the opportunity, after all these years, to finally make her debut at the top level of the sport.

It wasn’t for lack of trying that Valerie hasn’t quite made it to the level yet. She’s had a handful of other horses come up to the Intermediate and Advanced level, but whether it was the necessity of sales, injuries or simply that the most difficult level was just out of reach for these horses, she came up short on her biggest goals. So when she met the 16.2-hand Oldenburg gelding, Favian, she felt she was looking at a real chance at a clean slate.

Favian is a U.S.-bred horse out of Anita Nardine’s Hidden Springs Ranch in Mountain Center, Ca., and was originally campaigned in his eventing infancy by Tamie Smith and Heather Morris. Valerie, who had saved her dollars with every sale she’d had to make to keep her business going, was finally ready to purchase a horse for herself.

“I was looking for a while, all up and down the East coast, and just hadn’t found anything. A friend of mine, Liza Horan, was in California and I asked her to keep an eye out for a horse out that way,” Valerie recalled. “The next day, she called and told me about Favian. He was still owned by (breeder Anita Nardine) and had been with Tamie and Heather to that point.”

Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride’s Favian. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

It was a whirlwind of a shopping trip as Valerie soon found herself hopping a plane to California for just about 24 hours – just enough time to take Favian for a spin, talk it out over lunch, and decide that she’d indeed found the horse she wanted to partner with.

With the help of longtime supporter Elizabeth Bonner, who also owns Sudley Farm where Valerie’s Blue Clover Eventing bases, Valerie and “Faves” officially began their partnership in 2016, methodically moving through the levels as they got to know each other better before making their debut at Advanced together in 2019. Favian is a cross country-loving horse, made evident by his record, which shows just two shows ever with cross country jump penalties. It’s given Valerie the feeling she’s always craved in a top partner, and she’s feeling keen to get the upcoming week underway.

It can be challenging for riders limited in the number of upper level horses in their string to stay sharp and in good practice. Unlike some of her counterparts, Valerie doesn’t have a large number of horses in her program. Running Blue Clover Eventing, just outside of Annapolis, Md., Valerie prefers to keep her program on the smaller side. What helps her get as much practice as she can? Her side gig as an “S” certified National judge and a Level 2 FEI dressage judge, which allows her to judge through the Advanced and CCI4* levels. She’s also in the process of obtaining her FEI Level 3 certification, which will give her the opportunity to judge at the five-star level.

“Having the chance to judge so many horses competing at the Advanced and four star level has been really helpful for me, only having the one horse going at the level,” Valerie said. She credits Marilyn Payne and Linda Zang, both longtime mentors, as her inspiration for becoming a judge. “I kind of realized I wouldn’t be able to ride forever, so I wanted to find something I could do for a long time.”

Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride and Favian. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

These days, Valerie can typically be found alternating weekends between competing Favian, taking out her younger horses and flitting away for judging gigs. It’s a true art, this juggling that the professional rider must perform in order to make all of the ends meet. But Valerie does it all without complaint, accepting of the fact that life’s best rewards require some hustle.

“At Kentucky, I will just be super grateful to be there,” she said. “This is as close as I have ever been. Everyone has their own path, and I’ve had a lot of nice horses on the way. It feels really good to be here, on a horse I own.”

Not the bloodiest horse in the field, Valerie’s been working hard to tailor Favian’s fitness program, relying on the use of a heart rate monitor to keep a keen eye on his condition. She spent a good portion of the pandemic year working on speed as well as fine-tuning the dressage and show jumping. Most recently, the pair finished in the top 20 in the CCI4*-S at The Fork at Tryon International.

Favian and his sidekick, Theodore. Photo courtesy of Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride.

Valerie says she’s feeling prepared and confident – ready to get the show on the road, really, as Kentucky hurtles toward us. Favian, who on the other hand doesn’t love traveling to away shows, will be attending Kentucky with his mini companion, Theodore, in tow. “Unlike most of the other horses, (Theodore) earns his keep!” Valerie laughed. “When Favian comes back from a ride he trots up to the stall whinnying for Theodore, who is typically glued to the front of the stall door with his little mini nose plastered into the grates awaiting Favian’s return. It is so pathetic it will melt your heart.”

Hey, whatever helps you perform your best, buddy – no judgement here. We look forward to following Valerie and Favian during their debut this week! Stay tuned for much more from Kentucky. Go Eventing.

‘Behind the Barn’: Daniela Moguel on Making History

Daniela Moguel made history when she became the first rider from Mexico to compete at the then CCI4* level in Kentucky in 2016 and also the first to compete at the FEI World Equestrian Games. Mexico, which primarily supports eventing as a male, military activity – so Danny soon found herself packing up to move to the U.S. to pursue her dreams after seeing a poster of Karen O’Connor. Team Mexico coach at the time, Karen would later go on to coach Danny and her off-track Thoroughbred mare, Cecelia, when the pair competed at the Pan American Games in 2015.

You won’t want to miss this next interview from Frankie Thieriot Stutes as Daniela sits down to reflect on her career to this point.

To view the previous episodes of “Behind the Barn”, click here.

‘Behind the Barn Episode 3: Get to Know Kentucky and Olympic Course Designer Derek di Grazia

The interview series, “Behind the Barn”, featuring 12 candid interviews with some of the people competing or otherwise attending the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, kicked off yesterday and will continue with new episodes released all week long. This morning’s first drop is a special one: get to know course designer (and Advanced-level competitor himself) Derek di Grazia! Derek has designed the course in Kentucky since 2011 and will also be designing the course for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. He also won this event in 1985, so it’s safe to say he’s familiar.

To view the previous episodes of “Behind the Barn”, click here.