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LRK3DE Day Two: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Live Updates Thread

Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime. Photo by Abby Powell.

Welcome back the Kentucky Horse Park, where we’re well and truly ensconced in all the excitement of the 2022 renewal of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*. We’ve got 24 horses and riders coming forward across three sections this afternoon, beginning at 12.30p.m. EST and ending at roughly 4.15 p.m. Among today’s competitors are German hot favourites Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH, 2019 runners-up Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF, some serious British bombshells in the form of Sarah Bullimore and her European bronze medallist CorouetYasmin Ingham and her Blenheim winner Banzai du Loir, and Pippa Funnell and her exciting debutant Maybach, as well as potentially game-changing tests from Jonelle Price and McClaren, Aachen winners Will Coleman and Off The Record, Boekelo fifth-place finishers Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire, and much, much more!

First of all, though, let’s recap where we left off yesterday. At the close of play, we saw Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal head the leaderboard on their score of 32.9, and our ground jury of Nick Burton (C), Gretchen Butts (H), and Christian Steiner (B), were a united front in giving away absolutely no freebies. Demand for 8s outstripped supply, and our pals at EquiRatings tell us that on average, competitors were scoring around five marks higher than projected. Consistency is key in judging, and so we’ll expect them to be similarly harsh today, with just a small handful of horses cracking that all-important 30 barrier. (On average, Kentucky is won on a finishing score under 27, so that really is a crucial barrier to try to slip underneath!)

Here’s the leaderboard so far:

We’ll be coming at you live in just a few moments — in the meantime, check out our jam-packed form guide, which is set up in running order so you can get to know each horse and rider, including their backstory, fun facts, and previous performances insights, as they enter the Rolex Stadium. Got your snacks and beverages? Let’s do this thang.

#LRK3DE: WebsiteCCI5* Ride TimesCC4*-S Ride TimesLive ScoringLive Stream (North America)Live Stream (Outside of North America) TicketsEN’s CoverageEN’s Ultimate GuideEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

4.15: Stand by for a full dressage report and lots of photographs from the team on site! I’ll be back tomorrow with more live updates from both classes as they head out into the park for cross-country. Here’s how the the top twenty looks after dressage:

4.10: The unwarranted flying change on the final centre line is annoying, but what a nice test overall. Pippa looks thrilled with that, and her score of 29 will put her into fifth place going into tomorrow’s cross-country!

4.09: Pippa’s not giving a thing away in the canter work. Still lots and lots of 7.5s.

4.07: Lots of 7.5s and 8s in the trot work, which is balanced and correct to make up for the horse’s reasonably conservative natural movement.

4.05: The final rider of the day will be Pippa Funnell, who brings forward her second horse, the debutant Maybach. This sweet horse has been delivering sub-30s in all his FEI events since 2018.

4.04: Shame about the final halt, which is a bit of a diagonal splat. Will corrects it but they earn a 5. The final score will be a 36.1, putting them equal 17th at the moment with Ashlynn Meuchel and Emporium.

4.03: The left-to-right change is the weaker of the two, and they receive a 5.5 and 6s in the first of those, but the next is much better.

4.02: Pfun’s at his best in the canter work. There’s a lot of bounce and power, and it comes into play in the changes particularly. Some lovely moments here.

4.01: The trot shoulder-in looks a bit wobbly — Will’s outside rein looks to get a bit long, and we see quite a lot of wiggling. The 5s they earn there will be pricey.

3.59: This is Pfun’s first time at Kentucky since 2019, where they finished top twenty, though we did also see them at Maryland last year, finishing just outside the top 25 after a steady run.

3.57: The penultimate rider in the ring will be Will Faudree and his stalwart partner Pfun.

3.55: The final change is brilliant, too. What a super test for them! They sneak ahead of Boyd and Tsetserleg on their 27.4, which also puts them ahead of Yaz and Banzai and gets the US back onto the podium.

3.53: Nice changes! We haven’t seen many 8s given out for those, but they’re getting them. This looks like it’ll go sub-30.

3.52: The judges are really liking Carlevo today. Lots of 7.5s and 8s being scattered about for this workmanlike, pleasant test.

3.50: Next in is Buck Davidson and dear Carlevo. Right off the bat, they earn a 9 for their entrance.

3.49: 25.7 and second place for Sarah and Elfie! They’ll really be out to give Michi a run for his money this weekend.

3.48: And a couple of 9s for the final centreline! Brilliant. Beautiful. I unabashedly adore this little horse and think Sarah is the most underrated rider in the sport. She could win this and boy, would she deserve to do so.

3.47: I’d love to have seen a tiny bit more attack in the extended canter, and Elfie’s short, uphill frame makes it hard for him to really drop his nose extravagantly in the stretch — but the work is really excellent here.

3.45: 6s for the reinback, which isn’t quite diagonal pairs in the steps. The canter work is looking very nice so far and the first three changes are slick and tidy.

3.44: Lots of 8s peppered through the marks so far as we go into the walk work. We see a little bit more of a hurried step, here, which gives them a 6.5 and 7.

3.43: This is an exceptionally good-moving horse who believes he’s much bigger than a petite 15.2hh. We’ve seen him go sub-20 at four-star before, and Sarah is riding every movement here.

3.42: We have some more score updates: Sydney Elliott puts a 35.2 up, and Marc Grandia earns a 37.5. Now for another big pair: it’s Sarah Bullimore with her tiny homebred Corouet, with whom she won individual European bronze last year.

3.41: It’s a 40.6 for Mike and Steady Eddie. Onwards!

3.39: Some mistakes in the canter work, including a big spook and bolt in the second half-pass, will be costly — but it’s all about looking ahead to the weekend now.

3.36: The goal this week for this pair is to give Mike more mileage at this level: they had a late, unlucky fall here last year and then completed Maryland with a 20. This week they’ll be fighting for a clear they can climb on. En route to that task, though, they’re delivering some nice, useful work to trend in the mid-30s so far.

3.34: Next in is the next of our nineteen-year-old horses — it’s the former Boyd Martin ride Steady Eddie, who returns to Kentucky with Mike Pendleton in the irons.

3.32: There was so much in that test to like, and we could see this pair deliver a really competitive test as they get a bit more mileage at this level.

3.30: Ah, spoke too soon. The walk and canter work pushes the scores back down a bit, and we’re seeing a lot more 5s now, particularly in the changes.

3.29: The sevens are coming up thick and fast!

3.27: Next up is West Coaster Marc Grandia with Campari FFF the last of our rookie pairs. He refers to this horse as a bit of a ninja, because the spooks can come up fast and hot. So far, though, we’re seeing a really nice bit of work.

3.25: “He’s still relatively new to the level and this test, so to go out there and be so calm in such a huge atmosphere and produce some beautiful work has made me very proud — I’m so happy. It’s incredible — once you come down the chute you go into, like, a glass bowl and you can feel all eyes on you. We don’t have anything quite like that in the UK,” says a delighted Yaz Ingham.

3.24: Some super consistent marks through this test — lots of 6.5s and 7s, with just those 4s in the reinback hurting them a bit. Sydney looks thrilled with how her gorgeous horse has performed. Q dances his way out of the arena and looks ready to go cross-country now!

3.22: The canter work is look more relaxed. He has a lovely natural pace and the changes come up pretty easily for him.

3.21: The tension really creeps into the halt and reinback as Q puts his head up and runs backwards.

3.19: Q has delivered some good sub-30 scores, but he’s looking a bit hot and awestruck today — Sydney might have to swap some flash for tactful manoeuvring here. Great medium and extended trot, though.

3.17: Now it’s the turn of Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire, who were top twenty on their debut here last year before setting off on a European tour that culminated with fifth at Boekelo in October.

3.16: It’s a 28 for Yaz and Banzai, which puts her into second place at this stage! That’s pretty much bang on what we’d projected for the pair, so it goes to show that the judges are willing to reward real correctness and presence.

3.15: Really great stretchy circle. Yaz puts a lot of trust in her horse there and it pays off. Their final change is also spot on, though the judges are giving out 7s — it’s hard to imagine how they could have improved those.

3.14: This is a relatively inexperienced horse and we’ve occasionally seen a slightly less established change out of him — but the first couple here have looked impeccable.

3.12: Several 8s being thrown in the mix here so far. Here’s the jaguar walk I’ve been waiting for. What a stunning horse this is — we’re all very fond of him here in the UK.

3.11: Yaz is one hell of a competitor — she’s won every age title there is to win in Britain. She’s also won the eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S title with this horse, back in 2020.

3.09: And we’re back with the final session of the first phase here at the Land Rover Kentucky five-star. First up is 25-year-old British rider Yasmin Ingham, who brings forward her Blenheim winner Banzai du Loir. This is a very strong pair that could well win the whole thing on this horse’s five-star debut.

2.54: There’s another break now — we’ll be back with our exciting final bunch at 3.10, starting with Great Britain’s Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir. Here’s how the final section will look:

2.50: Lexi nailed all four of those changes, which is something a lot of much more established five-star riders can’t even say — she should be really thrilled with that, and she certainly looks it as she finishes up her test. Huge hugs and pats for Sprout and a beaming grin for Lexi!

2.49: Lexi’s riding some great changes in there. Lots of 6.5s and 7s, which is all the judges seem to want to award for changes in this class (unless you’re German).

2.47: Seeing a little bit of tension in the ring here, which shows through in Lexi’s position a little bit. The nerves of performing in this ring for the first time must be enormous, particularly as it’s been a long time coming for Lexi — she had two five-star entries fall through last year after bouts of bad luck marred her prep.

2.46: A tidy halt gets Lexi and Sprout’s test off to a good start here. Lexi brings to the ring a lot of wisdom picked up from William Fox-Pitt, with whom she was based a couple of seasons ago.

2.45: It’s a 37.3 for Doug and Quantum Leap. Our final pair in the ring before the judging break will be rookies Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z.

2.42: The canter half-pass, though, is disappointing — there’s no crossover, so not really a half-pass at all, more of a slightly angled canter. That’s where the tension becomes apparent, and it sees them dip down a mark or two. The final change, too, gives them some 5s, but overall, there’s been a lot to get excited about for the future in this test.

2.41: Some nice canter work so far, and a 7 for the first change — this horse really does have a lovely, unruffled flying change that’ll stand him in good stead in his career.

2.39: Quinn looks a little fragile in the contact, and that stops him from really powering on in the extended trot. He earns marks from 6 to 7 there but you can’t help but feel that could have been a 9 if he was truly utilising the contact.

2.36: It’s a 41.5 for Jessie Phoenix and Wabbit. We’ve got two more combinations in before the final judging break: next is Doug Payne with Quantum Leap, who debuted here last year as a ten-year-old.

2.33: The changes aren’t super established for this horse, yet, and we’re seeing quite a few 4s.

2.32: We see a dip down into the 5s in the walk work. There’s an awful lot of it in this test, and it probably feels like it takes hours if your having to work for it.

2.30: Canada’s Jessica Phoenix is back with her second ride, the lovely ex-racehorse Wabbit. They’re putting some nice marks up so far — it’s not a big earner, but they’re consistently around 6.5.

2.27: The third change goes back to threes and the fourth and final one goes back up to 6s. Those right-to-left changes are expensive, and they earn a 36.8 to go equal with Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle.

2.26: A bobble in the first change earns them a couple of 3s and a 4, but the second is much improved for 6.5s and 7.

2.25: A nice prowling walk in the extension is the highlight of this test so far. It’s 7s across the board there.

2.23: Next up is the ultimate bargain hunter, Fylicia Barr. She bought Galloway Sunrise from a Craigslist ad for just $500.

2.20: Interestingly, Meghan rides without spurs in this phase. You don’t often see this at this level. It’s a 40.7 for them — they’d have hoped for low 30s, as they earned here last year, but in the circumstances it’s a respectable enough score.

2.19: The changes are neat enough, and the last is particularly nice. A sweet stretchy circle and some better work shown in the latter half of this canter tour, which will claw them back a few of the marks lost while Palmer had his tongue over the bit.

2.17: It looks as though Palmer has managed to get his tongue over the bit in the walk, and the canter work is looking like a balancing act as a result.

2.15: Our next pair in the ring is Wednesday’s Best Dressed winner Meghan O’Donoghue and her ex-racehorse Palm Crescent. They made their debut here last year for 23rd place and will be delighted to return to the Horse Park with an audience in situ.

2.13: Bobby has a smile on his face even despite a tricky test with his inexperienced mare, who he rides in a racing saddle. He knows this week is about education and climbing, not about beating Michi on the flat. They start their weekend with a 44.3.

2.11: The canter work here will be costly for this pair — her changes aren’t particularly established yet, and the tension in the half-pass makes her front and hind end operate almost separately. We’re seeing some 2s, 3s, and 4s popping up.

2.10: That tension comes to a head in the canter transition, and we see Fortuna invert and put her nose in the air for the first few strides.

2.08: This wouldn’t be this little mare’s easiest phase — she’s a real jumping machine, and the walk looks like it could bubble over here.

2.06: Next in is Bobby Meyerhoff and his debutant mare Fortuna, who’s the first Balou du Rouet offspring we’ll see today — the second is Sarah Bullimore’s Corouet.

2.04: A sweet test from Will and ‘Timmy’ but not quite the score they’d have hoped for after some little mistakes in those changes. It’ll be a 33.3 — still enough for top five at this stage.

2.02: The second change looks okay from our frontward angle but gets a 4 from the judge at B, so must have been slightly late behind. Final change is slightly early behind.

2.00: That halt looked super — until a little shuffle forward marred it. Super first change, though.

1.58: Here’s a serious pair of contenders for the US fight for the title here — Will Coleman and Off the Record won Aachen last year. Will describes this horse as ‘like riding a kitchen table with a couple of Ferrari engines attached’. The 8m circles in trot are lovely and flowing, with a sweet spring to their step.

1.56: One of the Pony Clubbers volunteering in the ring gets the chance of a lifetime when Lauren stops on the way out to let her pat Landmark’s Monte Carlo. Love seeing these riders giving something back to these kids. It’s a 35.7 for Lauren.

1.53: A little inversion and wobble in the reinback sees them get a 5.5 there and a 5 in that halt. Some good changes so far, though!

1.50: And we’re back! Lauren Nicholson and Landmark’s Monte Carlo get us started again after the break.

1.36: That takes us into our first judging break: we’ll be back at 1.50 with Lauren Nicholson and Landmarks Monte Carlo. Here’s the line-up and times for the next section:

1.35: “I had a great feeling the whole week — he’s very relaxed and very nice to ride. He’s such a great horse with a lot of quality, and he’s amazing to ride. I have to say a thank you to my team, who prepared the horse to be in the best shape at the right moment,” says Michi, who looks hard to eclipse at this stage. “I feel very well at Kentucky — this is a great place; it’s horse country and I think the horses feel very welcome and relaxed.”

1.32: They pick up some 8s in the extended canter and final centreline to redeem the changes, and Jonelle will take a score of 33.4 into tomorrow’s cross-country. That’s fourth place at this stage — and interestingly, we see a six mark discrepancy in the judges’ scores. This is likely partly due to the angle on those changes.

1.31: Good stretchy circle here. Not as much downward reach as Chip, but Jonelle is on a hotter horse right now and has gauged what she can do sensibly.

1.30: The canter work is going to be a little expensive here, as McClaren is a little reactive and gets his rage face on in the changes, earning them a few 5.5s.

1.27: Lots of 6.5s and 7s so far as we work through the trot section of the test. There’s a lot of movement to play with in a small package with this horse.

1.25: Our final pair before the first judges’ break will be Kiwi superstar Jonelle Price and the former Sir Mark Todd ride, McClaren. This horse was third at Pau last year and he’s got a big job this week: a good result here could see Jonelle eclipse Oliver Townend, currently World Number One, in the rankings.

1.23: Lots of 6.5s and 7s through the canter work, but the extended canter transition into collected canter dips down to 4s after throwing in some bonus changes. They couldn’t afford that to go below 35, and sure enough, they put a 37 on the board.

1.22: A neat transition out of the reinback into canter. This is on track to be yet another score in the mid-30s, where much of our field currently sits. William’s good changes might help them out a bit, though.

1.21: Ahh! Frustratingly, ‘William’ breaks into canter in the extended trot.

1.19: Hannah Sue Burnett is probably slightly ruing the fact that she has to go in right after Herr Jung, but what joy for her to be back on the nineteen-year-old Harbour Pilot. The shortage of runs over the pandemic is definitely pushing the average age of horses up — we’ve got two nineteen year olds this week and an average age of 14.

1.18: Just going to throw this out there, but they got a 10 for that final centreline and halt. So that’s a thing.

1.16: Michi drops his reins for the double-handed wave to his cheering fans. It’s an incredible 20.3. Remember how we said everyone’s averaging around five penalties above their projections? Shall we just start referring to this as the time he delivered a 15 at Kentucky?

1.15: The changes are excellent but even better is the very clear transition into and out of extended canter, and then the boldest, softest, loosest stretchy circle we’ve yet seen. This horse is extraordinarily adjustable.

1.13: Michi earns a six in the halt as Chip takes a tiny step forward. He redeems himself with two 9s for the reinback. He’s trending a 23 right now.

1.11: Straight off the bat we see a 9 for the entrance. Michi is giving a masterclass here in accurate riding, which is his hallmark: he always coaxed excellent scores out of the very ordinary mover La Biosthetique Sam FBW, and that’s all about doing everything by the book. They’ve not gone below a 7 so far.

1.09: That’s a 38.5 for Buck and Sorocaima. Whew. Now we’ve got a seriously, seriously big test: it’s Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH. This is technically the gelding’s first five-star, though he did compete at the 2018 WEG at Tryon with former rider Julia Krajweski. He scored a sub-20 there so…prepare yourself.

1.07: This horse has a nice, pretty easy change, though he does look like he wants to anticipate them a bit — this is something we often see with green horses who find them reasonably easy. They start to want to chuck them in even when they’re not quite warranted. But here, Buck is doing a good job of managing that tendency. That’s a sweet test to start their week.

“He went pretty good, the little guy — he went in, stayed relaxed, and did a good test. Always could be better, but always could be worse, too,” says a very laid-back class leader Boyd about Tsetserleg.

1.05: ‘Cam’ is another horse to lose focus in the reinback to canter transition, throwing his head in the air and picking up a 4.

1.04: It’s hard to come in after a test like Boyd’s when you’re on a much greener horse that’s a very different type. We’re seeing this test score very consistently through the trot and walk, but it’s consistently at 6 to 6.5. There’s a couple of 7s for the medium walk, which is natural and flowing.

1.02: Next in is Buck Davidson, riding his five-star debutant Sorocaima. This is actually just the Thoroughbred’s 12th international start, but he’s had a pretty cool run so far, including a third-place finish in the CCI4*-L at Morven Park. Buck, who had four initial entries and three intended runners, is giving himself a relatively easy (ha! Ha!) week with just two horses actually going forward in this class.

1.00: It’s hard to imagine what the judges want to see to award an 8 in the changes, because those looked seriously nice, straight, clean, and expressive enough from where we stand. But hey ho — they finish their test to a raucous cheer and go straight to the top of the leaderboard with a super 29.3. Our first sub-30 of this five star!

12.59: Thomas is super straight and accurate in his changes so far. These are being set up really sensibly and it’s paying off. A lovely test so far but we’re seeing the marks trend down a bit towards 6.5 and 7 in the canter work.

12.57: Oh my god, we’ve seen a 9! Boyd and Thomas get it in their reinback from Nick Burton at C. I’ll have to double check in the judging break, but I’m nearly certain this is the first 9 we’ve seen.

12.56: 2019’s runners up, Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg, are in the ring now. This is a test that will have helped to fill the stands — and so far, they’re rewarding folks’ dedication with a mark that’s trending in the lead.

12.54: 36.5 for Joseph and Mario. A disappointing mark on paper but by these judging standards, it’s enough for seventh at the moment. It’s hard to see that staying in the top ten by the end of the day, though, because we have some serious heavy hitters to come.

12.52: Some sweet changes and lovely work in the canter. This looks like such an adjustable horse and it’s so obvious that the pair have formed a really special partnership together – a fact that’s further bolstered by the fact that Laura actually marketed the gelding as a Young Rider prospect to go and succeed at the three-star level. She’s remained instrumental in helping the pair get to know one another, and helped him in the warm-up and at the in-gate on the final day of Pau last year.

12.50: Mario throws his head up for a second in the reinback as something catches his eye in the stands. The first few strides of the canter look a little wobbly in the contact as a result as Joseph works to put the package back together.

12.49: There’s an early bobble as Mario tries to throw a step of canter into the trot move-off out of the first halt and salute, but Joseph looks well-focused and gets everything back well. It’s tough when you have an early little mistake like that, because it can throw your concentration off. This is where the mental game of this sport comes into play – you have to treat every movement as a blank slate, while also always setting up and preparing for what’s to come. It’s a level of mental duality that takes a lifetime to hone.

12.47: Next up is our Irish competitor, Joseph Murphy, who rides his relatively new ride Calmaro in their second five-star together. This sweet grey gelding, known as Mario at home, finished in the top fifteen at Pau last year, and seventeenth at Aachen with Joseph, and was previously campaigned by Laura Collett.

12.43: We ordinarily see a high-30s score for this pair, and once again, we’re seeing scores around five marks above the projections: after a couple of tense, hollow changes, Lisa Marie and Honor Me earn a 43.1. That’ll put them just outside the top twenty at this stage.

12.41: Honor Me uses the halt and reinback for a poo break, which isn’t always super helpful for the canter tour that follows, because it can disengage the hindend a bit. But Lisa Marie is working on nursing that hind leg back underneath him.

12.39: The trot half-passes look balanced and fluid. This horse is so tidy in his lateral work, which is a testament to this pair’s long partnership and experience. It’s not always easy to get a big horse to put all its parts in the right place.

12.37: Our first Canadian combo of the day will be fan favourites Lisa Marie Ferguson and her Welsh cob cross, Honor Me. This is their eighth five-star start, counting 2018’s World Equestrian Games, and Honor Me definitely knows where he is: he looks impressed as he comes down the first centreline.

12.36: Jennie’s characteristic broad smile falters a little at the final halt and salute. She’s a serious competitor, and she’ll really be kicking herself over that costly error even when she’s got so much to rejoice in from this test and ‘Fox’s’ performance. They end up with a 37 on the board.

12.35: The second and third changes make up for a bubbly first one. The extended canter isn’t as bold as I’d like to have seen, but the stretchy circle is very good – Jennie has set him up well through the test and can really trust him to take his nose right down without falling onto his forehand.

12.33: I’m enjoying the progression of FE Lifestyle’s walk, which looks so confident this year — it’s a real strut that Jennie can push on and play with. Frustratingly, though, Jennie picks up an error of course at the start of the canter tour, and then gets a fizzy, slightly untidy first flying change. That error will add two points onto her final score.

12.31: Silva Martin has worked a lot with Jennie and this gelding over the winter; Boyd’s dressage supremo wife not only trained horse and rider in tandem, but also spent a fair amount of the off-season riding the horse herself in Florida. It looks like it’s helped so far: he looks physically stronger this season, and mentally cool, too.

12.29: And here come our first starters down the iconic Rolex ramp! It’ll be Jennie Brannigan and the chestnut FE Lifestyle, who’s owned by Jennie’s longtime supporters Tim and Nina Gardner. Jennie’s delighted to have had a great week at Boekelo in front of some serious crowds last year with this horse, which will no doubt have acted as a great prep for performing at the top level in this big atmosphere.

12.26: Here’s how the first section is going to look timing wise, in case you need to plan your snack runs accordingly:

#LRK3DE: WebsiteCCI5* Ride TimesCC4*-S Ride TimesLive ScoringLive Stream (North America)Live Stream (Outside of North America) TicketsEN’s CoverageEN’s Ultimate GuideEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

LRK3DE Dressage Day One: The Juicy Great Big Live Updates Thread

Photo by Shelby Allen.

Welcome to day one of competition at the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event! We’ve been enjoying a couple of hours of sizzling hot CCI4*-S dressage in the Rolex Stadium today, and now, we’re diving headlong into the CCI5*. Can’t watch along with the live stream? Keep our live thread bookmarked for all the updates you need, as they happen.

Want to brush up on all the entries in this field, in the order they’ll appear? Check out our extensive form guide for all the info you need to know.

#LRK3DE: WebsiteCCI5* Ride TimesCC4*-S Ride TimesLive ScoringLive Stream (North America)Live Stream (Outside of North America) TicketsEN’s CoverageEN’s Ultimate GuideEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Thanks for tuning in to today’s live updates! Keep it locked onto EN for the full report, plus images of all your favourite pairs, coming soon.

Here’s how the leaderboard is looking after the first day of dressage, which saw 21 of our total 45 combinations come forward:

4.32: A nice stretchy circle there and a conservative final change. She gives a tidy halt but a bit wide behind. It’ll be a 38.7 — which doesn’t feel reflective of the quality of work, but we’ve had a very high-scoring day. This is a pair we’ll be looking at to stay on their first-phase score over the weekend, so definitely don’t count them out.

4.31: A touch late in the first change. The canter half pass is tidy, though doesn’t cover a tonne of ground — but it wouldn’t, as this mare is barely 15.3hh. She’s efficient and correct in the movement, but it’s a shame that the extended canter is a bit underpowered and conservative.

4.29: If Dolly has had a weak spot previously, it’s been her balance and frame in this phase, which has historically been a little long, downhill and week. But Hallie has been quietly putting in the work over the winter, because we’re seeing some serious steps up in physical strength here, which translates to a purposeful, uphill shape. A recent bit of training with British trainer du jour Ian Woodhead has definitely helped them nail a few things here. But argh! Another sidestep in the second halt.

4.27: Our final pair of the day will be Hallie Coon and the diminutive grey Global Ex, who makes her five-star debut this week. They were seventh at Boekelo last autumn, and the only combination to finish on their dressage score. They start their test with a frustrating sidestep in the halt, but wow — ‘Dolly’ has really come a long way in the trot work. That medium trot is miles above what we’ve seen from her previously.

4.25: It’ll be a score of 46.1 for Zoe and Zara. Let’s check in with Colleen: “I was a little upset with my bobble; he was giving me everything he could give today. I thought he put in a very good consistent test, apart from a couple of things — but that’s why it’s a five-star. If the judges are going to be tough, I hope they stay tough all week!” He’s my first homebred at five-star, and you always want your kids to do great.”

Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by Shelby Allen.

4.23: Zoe might have gritted teeth right now but it’s hard not to smile at Zara’s spicy moments here — she’s fit and fresh and knows she’s at a big party. We understand the joie de vivre because it’s how we all feel to be back at a proper, packed Kentucky.

4.21: KEC Zara is looking stronger and more physically mature this year after her two educational five-star runs last season. After falling here in the spring, they returned to the level at Maryland and delivered a steady clear. This year’s all about consolidating what they learned and making it competitive, and they look committed to the cause in this test — though Zara does want to jog a bit in the walk.

4.19: Our penultimate combination will be Zoe Crawford with KEC Zara, who made their five-star debut here last year.

4.15: We’ve seen so few 8s today that I’m beginning to wonder if they’re an endangered species in Kentucky. Colleen and CR just one 8, and go into provisional second place on 33.8.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Shelby Allen.

4.14: Ahh, bummer — the halt before the reinback isn’t immobile, and they get a 1, a 3, and a 5 for that. That’ll cost them. They get the reinback though, and get back onto the 6.5s and 7s for the rest of the test…until the second change, which earns them 4s.

4.12: CR has plenty of power to play with in his trot, and the experience to know how to manage it. He’s a big horse, but Colleen is eking out those 8m circles. We’re seeing a sub-30 trending score at the moment — our first of the day.

4.10: With three left to go today, all eyes turn to Colleen Rutledge and her stalwart partner Covert Rights. This is 48th FEI start, and they could certainly give Tamie a run for her money in this test.

4.07: Ashlynn and Emporium are trending in the mid-30s currently — that’ll be a great score for them if they can maintain it. A little blip in the third change is a bit unfortunate but there’s a lot of good stuff going on here for this former horse and student of Tamie Smith.

Ashlynn Meuchel and Emporium. Photo by Shelby Allen.

4.05: Next in is Ashlynn Meuchel and Emporium, who made their five-star debut at Maryland in the autumn. It’ll be a huge moment for Ashlynn now to make her way down the Kentucky centre line.

4.01: Just as we get to the end of the canter work, we see a bit more tension creep in, and Paper Jam just looks to almost lose the rhythm a bit coming down the final centre line — but there’s been plenty to like here. Their 39.3 will be uncompetitive in this phase, but it’s still only six and a bit penalties away from the lead — so if the scores continue on like this, it’ll be plenty close to climb from.

3.59: This horse has some really sweet moments in his canter work. There’s a serious engine there that’ll really benefit this pair come Saturday.

James Alliston and Paper Jam. Photo by Shelby Allen.

3.56: Wow, Paper Jam really powers on in the medium and extended trots, but you can spot a little bit of tension in his slight tendency to overbend.

3.53: That’s a 36.2 for Pippa, so provisional fifth at this early stage. Next up is another Brit – well, originally, anyway! This time, it’s West Coast-based James Alliston and Paper Jam. James switched nationality over the off-season and now rides for the USA.

3.51: Some neat changes here, but the stretchy circle isn’t giving us enough of…anything, really. We’ll see Majas Hope revert to his mid-30s scores of old today.

Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope. Photo by Shelby Allen.

3.50: Uh oh! That’ll be costly. Majas Hope spots something in the grandstand and spooks big-time in the halt and reinback.

3.47: Pippa’s riding very correctly here, though we’re seeing some minor bobbling on the contact from Majas Hope.

3.46: It’s a 41.1 for Leah and AP Prime. These judges really are making the riders work for it! Let’s see what Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope can do. This horse has become a real sub-30 horse over the last ten months or so after previously struggling a bit with this phase.

3.44: Like so many Thoroughbreds, AP finds the canter work a little bit easier to settle into and work with. There’s some really nice moments from this good running-and-jumping horse, who’ll be great fun to watch on Saturday.

Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime. Photo by Shelby Allen.

3.43: AP looks just a bit more active behind than in front in the walk work, which is an indicator that he could be on the cusp of breaking into a jog. Leah will be glad to get into the canter work now and let him move on a bit.

3.41: Leah’s goal here will be to stay sub-40, which isn’t always easy on this big, rangy Thoroughbred who has to work extra hard in movements like the 8m circle to shoulder-in.

3.40: And we’re back for what will be the final session of today’s CCI5* dressage. The first of our final seven combinations in the ring will be Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime, who come forward for their fifth five-star. Here’s how the leaderboard looks after the first fourteen riders:

3.13: Final change is clean but Jack chucks his head. Frustrating! But a super halt to finish the test — Alex looks thrilled, and she should be. She’s a five-star rider now, and she’s been working so hard to make this moment happen. They’ll carry a score of 40.9 into the jumping phases this weekend. And that takes us into our second judging break: we’ll be back at 3.40 with Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime.

“I’m so proud of her — she was so awesome today,” says an emotional Tamie Smith, who currently leads with Fleeceworks Royal. “I have a great team behind me, and I’m very luck to have that — this is very difficult to do, and we couldn’t do it without them. This looks like a course that’ll suit [Rory], but then I’ve never found one that hasn’t!”

Alexandra MacLeod and Newmarket Jack. Photo by Abby Powell.

3.12: Like Rory, Jack wants to lead with his quarters in the canter half-pass. Second chance is also late, but the third looks okay from our admittedly tricky angle.

3.11: Nice reinback from Alex and Jack! He’s late behind in the first change, though.

3.09: Jack is another horse that is just a little bit fragile in the contact, and he’s long in the neck and back, too, which means that Alex has to work hard to try to package him without just holding on tight.

3.07: Our final rider before the break is the third rookie of the day, and our amateur hero: Alex MacLeod is an LA-based full-time veterinarian, and makes her debut with her own Newmarket Jack, who she produced from a feral five-year-old. Alex used to be a working student for Phillip Dutton, so she’s had some super training behind her to help her build a system for producing her horse that fits in with her busy life.

3.06: It’s a new leading score, but it won’t be sub-30: Tamie and Rory are awarded a 33 for their efforts.

3.05: Tamie’s able to ask for a bit more in the stretching circle because she’s prioritised relaxation in this test. It’s frustrating to see a trot step on the final centreline, but they finish a lovely test neatly.

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Shelby Allen.

3.04: Tamie’s working hard for the canter half-pass, because Rory wants to lead with her quarters. These changes are looking crisp.

3.02: ‘Rory’ has a lot of power in her trot, but that can contribute to a bit of a loss of balance, and the shoulder-in looks to wobble a tiny bit. She’s quite straight behind in the walk work, so we don’t see that real prowl we’re looking for, but Tamie is riding her very correctly, and the halt and reinback are nice.

3.00: Here’s a big gun to focus our attention on: Tamie Smith brings her debutant Fleeceworks Royal forward, ahead of her trip to Badminton next week with Mai Baum. This lovely mare has finished in the top ten at Boekelo CCIO4*-L in the Netherlands and won at Rebecca twice. She’s gone sub-25 at four-star, so we’ll be looking to see if Tamie can be our first competitor to break the 30 barrier today.

Elisa Wallace and Let It Bee Lee. Photo by Abby Powell.

2.58: A very good final halt and a huge cheer for Elisa and Let It Be Lee! They earn a 35.1, which is about what we expected from this debut test. That puts them on even keel with Allie Knowles and Morswood, so they share second place at this early stage.

2.57: There’s some really nice moments in this test, and this horse is behaving very professionally. They’re definitely reading from the same hymnbook and it makes for a really pleasing overall picture.

2.55: Let it Be Lee has a lovely, prowling walk. His extension and medium walk are very nice, but the halt isn’t square behind.

2.53: Next in is Elisa Wallace and her debutant Let It Be Lee. We’ve all ridden along with this pair via Elisa’s YouTube channel, so it’s exciting to watch them on the main stage this week!

2.51: There was a lot to like in that test, but also some expensive moments of tension and crookedness. Woods scores a 39.4, which is much higher than the score around 30 they’d have been aiming for, but this is a great educational opportunity for them and they’ll have their chance to climb over the weekend.

Woods Baughman and C’est la Vie 135. Photo by Abby Powell.

2.47: C’est La Vie 135 is a beautiful mover naturally and his been produced to show that off: he was found by Germany’s Dirk Schrade, who Woods was based with for a year, and was initially produced by young German producer Ben Leuwer.

2.46: The next pair in the ring is another rookie duo: it’s the CCI4*-L USEF National Champions Woods Baughman and C’Est La Vie 135. Woods is a Lexington native and his horse shares a sire — Contendro I — with Michael Jung’s fischerChipmunk FRH. You can read Woods’s rookie profile here.

2.45: It looks like Booli won’t get penalised for coming in just a fraction of a second over that time allowed. They earn a 45.3 and can enjoy the fun parts of the weekend now!

2.43: Lance comes above the bridle in the extended canter, and Booli nurses him through the stretchy circle. She’s worked hard in this test and can now officially call herself a five-star rider!

2.41: The halt and reinback is such a tough movement on a tense horse, and Lance throws in an extra rushed step and hollows before transitioning out of the movement. Booli is riding really tactfully out there to try to give her horse a good experience, rather than fighting for marks at the expense of his confidence.

Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancando. Photo by Abby Powell.

2.39: A sub-40 score will be the goal today for New York-based Booli and her 17.1hh gelding, who can be a bit of a bashful boy in new settings. There’s a huge atmosphere here for him to contend with and he does look a bit starstruck in that big old arena.

2.37: There’s a chance Booli just overshot the 45 seconds of allowed time from the bell, which would give her two penalties for an error of course. We’ll confirm once we’ve got her final scores.

2.35: We’ve got our first rookie of the week up now: it’s Booli Selmayr and her own Millfield Lancando. You can get to know this pair in their rookie profile here. They had a bit of a scary moment yesterday when they were sent to the holding box in the first horse inspection, but all’s well that ends well!

2.34: It’s a 38.7 for Phillip Dutton and Socs. Will we get a sub-30 score today?

2.33: The final change is clean but Socs does run into it a bit.

2.31: It’s in this canter work that we’ll see any tension creep through with this gelding. The first half pass looks stilted, but Phillip gently unwinds the horse before the second, which is much better. He’s had to compromise, though, and ride a conservative canter extension as a trade-off.

2.29: Socs doesn’t have the natural big movement in his trot half passes that a horse like Capitol HIM does, but Phillip knows that and focuses his attention on accuracy and relaxation, rather than flash. In the walk work, the gelding is inclined to almost do a bit of a Spanish walk in the extension — there’s purpose and a bit of toe-flicking. The halt is the best we’ve seen so far, which makes the reinback easy – but the transition into canter is hesitant.

Phillip Dutton and Sea of Clouds. Photo by Abby Powell.

2.28: Like Bogue Sound earlier, we see Socs just lengthen a bit too much through his body in that extended trot. This sweet horse finished thirteenth at Maryland in October, so we’re expecting him to put up a good fight this weekend. The first job will be to put a sub-35 score on the board.

2.26: That’ll be a 38.2 for Hawley and Jollybo, which is a bit higher than expected — but all our pairs so far are consistently scoring above their averages so far. Next in will be Phillip Dutton and the OTTB Sea of Clouds. Phillip remains the last US winner of this event — he took top honours back in 2008.

2.25: The second change is a little hollow, and Jollybo engages her rage ears for the extended canter. The last couple of strides go a bit inverted, which is a shame.

2.23: The halt and reinback will be expensive. They overshoot the marker for the halt and then the halt itself isn’t square. Their transition out into canter is also hollow. First change is excellent, though.

2.21: Andddd we’re back! Hawley and Jollybo are in the ring; this eighteen-year-old mare really is looking super.

Hannah Sue Burnett and Capitol HIM. Photo by Abby Powell.

1.54: It’s a 37.5 for Hannah Sue and Capitol HIM, and that takes us neatly into the first judging break. We’ll be back at 2.20 with the experienced Canadian pair Hawley Bennet-Awad and Jollybo.

1.53: The hindend still isn’t quite active enough as they execute the extended canter, which looks conservative as a result. The final change is clean, but not expressive. Overall, though, a very sweet test and a great final halt for this gelding’s first outing at the level.

1.52: The first change is hoppy but clean enough, but Hannah will want to use this canter half-pass to really get his hind leg stepping underneath him if she wants to nail the next changes. Second is late behind from what we can see at this angle.

1.50: ‘Cheeto’s’ trot half-passes really feel like his party piece so far in this test. Now we’re into the walk work, and he’s got a nice prowl to this pace. I love to see a horse that stalks along like a hungry jaguar, and while he’s not quite that sultry in his steps, it’s getting there.

1.48: The first halt is neat but he parks up very narrow behind. This is a big, uphill gelding, and he executes a nicely uphill trot half-pass — but after riding out of the 8m circle into the shoulder-in, we see his haunches swing out for the first couple of steps. Hannah gets him back quickly, but they’ll lose a couple of marks for those early steps.

1.46: It’s a 39 for Jess and Bogie, with a five penalty discrepancy between judges. Our final pair in the ring before the judges’ break is Capitol HIM, ridden by Hannah Sue Burnett. This is the fifteen-year-old’s five-star debut.

1.44: The fourth and final change looks great. Tidy, and just expressive enough. They halt, salute, and Bogie has a good spook at the clapping audience. Bless him — he’s kept it together really well, considering his reaction there.

1.42: A sweet and sensible halt and reinback from Jessie and Bogie, and then they power on out into the canter. He throws his ribcage to the left a little in the first change across the diagonal which made him late behind, and hops behind in the second.

Jessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound. Photo by Abby Powell.

1.41: These Thoroughbreds are built and bred for speed, which means they tend to be a bit longer in their body and movement. That makes it hard to get them to sit and power on in movements like the extended trot, and we see that in action here with Bogie. He’s trying hard, but it’s easier for him to run on a bit in that movement.

1.40: Our first Canadian comes forward next: it’s Jessica Phoenix and the sweet ex-racehorse Bogue Sound. The fifteen-year-old was bought off the track by Dorothy Crowell and finished fifteenth in his debut here in 2019.

1.39: It’s a 36.4 for Lauren and Bug. Hopefully this will prove to have been a valuable schooling exercise ahead of their trip to Germany.

1.37: We have a score for Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre now – their 40.7 isn’t what they’ll have wanted.

1.36: “Okay, okay, if you say so,” says Bug, and puts his nose down and behaves in the stretch circle. Pony brains, eh?

1.35: The next change looks very professional, which makes that naughty one even more frustrating. It’s bumped them up to a trending score of nearly 38, which she’ll be able to pull back down a bit if Big behaves himself from here on out.

1.34: ‘Bug’ is marching along in his walk, but verges on looking a bit hurried in this movement. His tendency when he gets a bit fizzy is to lock his hocks a little bit and take peg-legged steps behind, which makes it hard to nail the halt and reinback that follows – but Lauren looks to scoop him up with her leg and makes it happen. Now, though, we see a little tantrum in the flying change.

Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus. Photo by Abby Powell.

1.32: Lauren Nicholson comes forward next with Vermiculus, though her plan is just to do a test with this little horse. He was meant to go to Badminton, but missed some fitness prep due to a minor knock, so she’s using this as practice before rerouting to Luhmühlen in Germany in June. He has an early, cheeky bobble and break in the medium trot, but looks super and swinging in the trot half pass.

1.30: It’s a 35.1 for Allie and Morswood. The ground jury – Nick Burton at C, Gretchen Butts at H, and Christian Steiner at B — are giving away no freebies here today. She slips in behind Doug and Vandiver.

1.29: Allie definitely wants to be competitive this week. We see her sit deep and take a chance in the extended canter, and it pays off: Morswood looks at his straightest and most expressive in that movement. Still, she doesn’t look delighted at the final halt and salute – like so many riders at this level, she’ll be thinking of the tiny intricacies and nuances where she could have picked up more marks.

Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Abby Powell.

1.28: We miss out on seeing the first change because the cameraman is intent on zooming in on horse’s ears during the changes, but the second one is tidy.

1.26: This cool horse has a pretty storied history: he was originally piloted by Britain’s Piggy March before she handed the reins to her then-stable jockey, Ireland’s Susie Berry, who competed the gelding at the European Young Rider Championships. We’ll see Susie make her five-star debut at Badminton next week.

1.25: Morswood just clunks the boards behind as he prepares to lengthen along the diagonal, which is a sure sign that the hindend has slightly evaded outwards. Allie is quick to react, though, and reengages the hindend before the lateral movements.

1.24: Next in is Allie Knowles, who brings the exciting chestnut Irish Sport Horse Morswood forward for his second CCI5*. They finished 11th in Maryland last year — an enormously emotional result for the hard-working rider, who had recently given birth. This is a pair that will be aiming to go sub-30, which is a big goal, but an achievable one for them.

1.23: “Vandiver was excellent, really — it was probably his best test he’s done to date, so I couldn’t be happier with that,” says Doug, who praises Derek diGrazia’s course, which he says will require instinctive riding and will deliver some unpredictable results. Busy Doug is the only rider here with horses in all three international competitions — that includes the CSI3* showjumping.

1.20: Leslie knows when he just has to ride tactfully and keep everything together with this gelding, rather than pushing for more marks. We see that here in the stretchy circle, where he’s keeping the reins reasonably short and just asking Splash to keep on going, gently, gently. Phew! They make it to the final halt and salute. Onto the fun bits for them next.

Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre’. Photo by Abby Powell.

1.18: Something that we see with a lot of French horses is a bit of fragility in the contact in this phase, though the good news is that we often see them push through that in their teens, because they’re mentally late bloomers in many cases. Splash isn’t the most straightforward ride in the world, and so it’s fair to imagine he’ll follow the same trajectory. For now, though, movements he finds tricky — such as the halt and reinback — tend to feed tension through to the movements that follow.

1.16: The first of our British contingent is up now: it’s US-based Leslie Law and the flashy Voltaire de Tre. This is a fourth five-star for ‘Splash’, who finished in tenth here on his debut in 2019 at just ten years old. He’s a spicy character, this one, and wouldn’t always find this phase the easiest — they’ll be aiming for a sub-35 score to put them on a par with their last two Kentucky runs.

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Abby Powell.

1.14: A wistful grin from Doug as his score of 34.9 is revealed. It’ll put them out of the hunt by the end of this phase but they’ve got lots of experience in climbing from exactly that sort of mark.

1.12: The stretchy canter circle in this test tends to be very influential. That’s admittedly usually because riders forget to do it. When they do remember it, though, it’s one of those movements you can’t fake your way through at all – because you’re letting go of your horse’s head, you need to be confident that you’ve been riding him from your leg to your hand and encouraging relaxation. Only then can horses really lift their backs, stick their noses down and out, and take a deep breath into the movement. Quinn doesn’t quite show enough reach down, which tracks – he’s looked just a little behind the leg through the canter work today.

1.11: We’ve seen Doug and Vandiver go sub-30 several times at four-star, but they tend to be mid-30s scorers at five star. At this halfway point, that’s exactly where they’re trending again.

1.09: We’ve got Doug Payne and Vandiver in the ring now. This is a proper warhorse, and comes forward for his sixth start at this level. He’s also a horse we’ll be using to gauge the influence of the time on cross-country tomorrow, because he’s swift.

1.06: That’ll be a 37.4 for Will and DonDante to get the afternoon’s competition underway. Will’s likely a bit disappointed with that – this horse got a 32.6 in the five-star at Maryland last year.

1.03: We’re up and running after a slight technical hitch, and midway through his test is the first rider of the day — it’s Will Coleman and the 17.3hh gelding DonDante. This sweet gelding is giving a workmanlike performance, but it’s not totally without its wobbly moments. This horse looks like he sometimes tries a little bit too hard, and it’s hard to hold that against him.

#LRK3DE: WebsiteCCI5* Ride TimesCC4*-S Ride TimesLive ScoringLive Stream (North America)Live Stream (Outside of North America) TicketsEN’s CoverageEN’s Ultimate GuideEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Three Cheers for Virtual Tailgating: How to Watch Land Rover Kentucky, Wherever You Are

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class, winners of the 2019 Kentucky Three-Day Event. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

It’s that time of year again, and boy, have we waited a long time for a really jam-packed spring full of five-stars. If you’re not planning on making the trip to either of the next two weeks’ worth of big’uns, though, you don’t have to stress out about missing any of the action. Wherever you’re located, you’ll be able to watch the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event presented by Mars Equestrian™ live – and we’ve got all the info you need on where to stream it, when it’s on, and what you should drink while you’re watching. (No, seriously, you really do want a Boyd Martini in hand.)

If you’re in North America:

USEF Network will once again be taking charge of North American live-streaming, though they won’t be streaming the horse inspections or press conferences –- you’ll find those on the LRK3DE Facebook page.

To watch the live stream, sign up for a free US Equestrian fan membership — or, to add access to on-demand content and rewatch the day’s action after it’s happened, sign up for a US Equestrian Subscriber membership. You’ll get 50% off this week if you use the promo code LRK3DE22, which will bring the cost of your membership down to just $12.95 for the whole year. You’ll get loads of extra perks, too, including a subscription to US Equestrian magazine, access to the digital learning center, insurance perks, mental health first aid, and much more. Find out more and sign up here.

Kentucky highlights will also be shown on several TV channels and streaming programs in the weeks after the event. Here’s when you’ll be able to quell those post-event blues:

NBC – Saturday, May 14 at 1:00 p.m. ET

CNBC – Sunday, May 29 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Peacock  Available May 14-June 14

If you’re…anywhere else in the world:

Watching from further afield? You’ll need to sign up for H&C Plus. Membership starts at £5.99 per month, but if you don’t fancy being locked into a subscription package, you can buy an event pass for £9.99 that’ll give you access to the entirety of the week’s broadcasts. (We do highly recommend the monthly membership, though, and not just because it’s cheaper — it’ll also give you access to a plethora of other livestreams, plus loads of archive content, including horsey documentaries, training features, behind-the-scenes programs at major yards, masterclasses, and much, much more!)

H&C, like USEF Network, won’t be streaming the trot-ups or press conferences– you’ll need to tune in on LRK3DE’s Facebook page for those.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE:

Wednesday 27 April
3.00 p.m. EST/20.00 BST: CCI5* first horse inspection

Thursday 28 April
8.00 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. EST/13.00 – 16.30 BST: CCI4*-S dressage
1.00 p.m. – 5.30pm EST/18.00 – 22.30 BST: CCI5* dressage

Friday 29 April
8.00 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. EST/13.00 – 16.30 BST: CCI4*-S dressage
12.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m. EST/17.30 – 21.30 BST: CCI5* dressage

Saturday 30 April
9.00 a.m. – 11.15 a.m. EST/14.00 – 16.15 BST: CCI4*-S cross-country
12.50 p.m. – 4.45 p.m. EST/17.50 – 21.45 BST: CCI5* cross-country

Sunday 1 May
7.30 a.m. EST/12.30 BST: CCI4*-S and CCI5* horse inspection
11.00 a.m. – 12.45 p.m. EST/16.00 – 17.45 BST: CCI4*-S show jumping
2.30 p.m. – 4.45 p.m. EST/ 19.30 – 21.45 BST: CCI5* show jumping, followed by prize-giving

#LRK3DE Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream (North America), Live Stream (Outside of North America) TicketsEN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Badminton Entries Update: A Major Frontrunner Withdraws; France’s Numbers Grow

Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

In arguably the most significant shift to the entry list so far, reigning Badminton champion Piggy March has withdrawn John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn’s  Brookfield Inocent from contention. The thirteen-year-old Irish Sport horse gelding (Inocent 3 x Shalies Pet, by Kings Servant) won the CCI4*-S Grantham Cup at Thoresby Park in the lead-up to Badminton, and the European reserve champions were widely regarded as among the frontrunners to take this year’s title, particularly after a strong five-star debut at Pau in 2020 saw the horse take an easy second place. They’re replaced by France’s Ugo Provasi and Shadd’OC, who will both make their Badminton debut next week. This will be Ugo’s second-ever appearance at the level and his first in a decade: he finished in the top twenty at Pau in 2012.

We’re now down to number 13 on what has been an uncharacteristically slow-moving waitlist — in previous years, we’ve seen no fewer than 14 horses and riders accepted from the list, which is set in order of FEI points accumulated by the combination over a rolling period. When we last checked in, Sweden’s Sofia Sjöborg and DHI Mighty Dwight had stepped into the gap left by Zara Tindall and Class Affair; since then, a further six horses and riders have made the cut, including Ugo and Shadd’OC. Those combinations are Great Britain’s Nicky Hill and MGH Bingo Boy, Ireland’s Esib Power and Soladoun, the USA’s Emily Hamel and Corvett, Great Britain’s Izzy Taylor and Artful Trinity, and France’s Arthur Duffort and Toronto d’Aurois. The horses and riders who have withdrawn from the entry list since our previous update are Harry Meade and TenarezeOliver Townend with two-time Kentucky winner Cooley Master Class and Ridire Dorcha, France’s Luc Chateau and Troubadour Camphoux, who were fourth at Luhmühlen last season, and Ireland’s Joseph Murphy and Calmaro, who instead compete at Kentucky this week. New Zealand’s Samantha Lissington also opted to withdraw Ricker Ridge Rui from the waitlist.

18 horses and riders remain on the waitlist, from which substitutions can be made until 2pm BST this Sunday, May 1. The next horse and rider eligible to get the nod will be France’s Cyrielle Lefevre and Armanjo Serosah, followed by Great Britain’s Tom Rowland and Possible Mission.

LRK3DE Social Media Recap: Sashay Away; Shantay, You Stay

And just like that, the first horse inspection at Kentucky was behind us (without even the merest threat of snow this year, so cheers for that, Eventing Overlords!). We’ve done the official debrief, a whopping great big photo gallery, and our gentle haranguing of the riders in our annual Golden Chinch Awards, but if you’re still hungry for more hot jog action, here’s another look through the eyes of riders, grooms, owners, and spectators alike.

Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event (KY): WebsiteCCI5* Ride TimesCC4*-S Ride TimesLive ScoringLive Stream (North America)Live Stream (Outside of North America) TicketsEN’s CoverageEN’s Ultimate GuideEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

 

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#lrk3de Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream, Tickets, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Form GuideEN’s Ultimate Guide to LRK3DE, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

The Golden Chinch Awards: The Official Unofficial Sartorial Stakes at Kentucky 2022

#LRK3DE: WebsiteCCI5* Ride TimesCC4*-S Ride TimesLive ScoringLive Stream (North America)Live Stream (Outside of North America) TicketsEN’s CoverageEN’s Ultimate GuideEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

It’s that time again, folks — that special time of year wherein I sit atop my throne of haute couture, casting aspersions about clothes as though I’m not wearing tracksuit bottoms that are two sizes too big and covered with what I think is a bit of liquid joint supplement but might, on second glance, actually be a smear of horse poo. So that’s good and nice. We do really try to ensure that the most qualified people are given the hard jobs here at EN.

Anyway, in a hilarious show of poor judgment, we managed to get a company that’s actually legitimately stylish and sophisticated to back up my spurious sartorial claims. A warm welcome back to Fairfax and Favor, purveyors of fine British footwear and the sole (get it?) reason approximately half the Kentucky field isn’t barefoot right now.

Once again, the kind folks at F&F are offering a seriously good prize to the rider who wins the Ultimate Golden Chinch in this week’s jog awards. Have a browse through the candidates and cast your vote below — oh, and there’s a little something in it for you, too, you fashionable little minx. Don’t say we don’t look after you.

And so, without further ado, let’s take a look at the nominees for the 2022 Officially Unofficial Kentucky Jog Awards. WALK, BABY.

The Golden Chinch for Stowing Your Tray Tables in an Upright Position and Preparing for Landing

Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The seatbelt light has gone off, you’ve finally located Bridesmaids on the in-flight viewing system, and now you’re in need of just a couple more things: a packet of faintly cheesy pretzels (are they meant to taste cheesy? I’ve never quite worked out if it’s intentional) and a space gin in a tiny plastic cup that’ll threaten to fling itself off the edge of your tray table if the plane so much as looks at a cloud.

And lo! What light through yonder plane aisle breaks! It is the east, and Yaz Ingham is the sun. Merrily wheeling her cart of snacks and beverages along, she stops at every row for a minute or two too long, because she’s the kind of gal who wants to have a little chit-chat with all her passengers, who she secretly thinks of as her children.

“Ooooh, love, you’re not nervous are you?” she asks a middle-aged woman, who’s sitting rigid and white-knuckled in her aisle seat. “Have one of these; next thing you know, we’ll be landing.” You don’t quite see what she hands the woman, because it’s hidden in a little cocktail napkin, but sure enough, no one hears a peep out of the catatonic customer for the rest of the journey. Yaz is sunshine and rainbows; she warns you away from teas and coffees because “I’m not supposed to tell you this, lovey, but you do not want to know where that water’s come from!”; she quietens screaming babies with a smile and makes even the most pernickety of passengers soften with her charms. At one point, a man in an aisle seat calls her darling and pats her on the bottom, and swift as a flash, she deploys an emergency exit door and hurls him to his death. The door is shut again before the cabin pressure even has a chance to change, and her smile never falters.

“Would you like another gin and tonic?” she asks.

The Golden Chinch for…Hang On, Where Are Our Chinchillas?

Sarah Bullimore and Corouet. Photo by Shelby Allen.

No, seriously, has anyone checked on them?

The Golden Chinches for the Deft Expression of the Duality of Womanhood, as told by Holland Cooper

Hallie Coon and Jennie Brannigan. Photo courtesy of Hallie Coon. By ‘courtesy of’ I mean I simply stole it from her.

Here we have two outfits by British heritage clothing brand Holland Cooper that tell two very different stories. The outfit on the left says its prayers every night; the outfit on the right once graffitied male genitalia in its school restroom. The outfit on the left is “welcome to come to dinner anytime you like, dear, anytime at all” by every prospective suitor’s mother. The outfit on the right has to be paid off to skip family Thanksgiving after upending a dish of yams over Uncle Hank, even though he totally deserved it because he’s actually, let’s be real, a bit of a bigot. The outfit on the left has never missed Sunday school; the outfit on the right smokes spliffs in the cemetery while the service is on. The outfit on the left says “I think that walks as a conservative four, actually”; the outfit on the right hawks a loogie with a little bit of blood in it and says “four? Are you kidding me? I could kick for two in that.” The outfit on the left is “how may I help you today?”; the outfit on the right is “WHADDAYAGONNADOABOUTIT?” The outfit on the left is the angel on your shoulder; the outfit on your right is the devil. Inside of you there are two wolves, and they are Hallie Coon and Jennie Brannigan. Good luck, friend.

The Inaugural “Hot for Teacher” Golden Chinch

Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot. Photo by Abby Powell.

Is it the prim pencil skirt? Is it the staid and sensible loafer situation? Is it the sneak peak of skin through those lacey sleeves? Whatever it is, Hannah Sue Burnett looks like she just finished one of those English lessons in which everyone has to recite a line from the Queen Mab speech in Romeo and Juliet and then beat one another to a pulp for a while with rolled up newspapers masquerading as swords. But somehow, she also kind of looks like she’s having a sordid affair with the principal. Suddenly, we get where Van Halen was coming from. Teacher, do you need to see us after school?

The Golden Chinch for The Most Suspicious Sunglasses

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. Photo by Abby Powell.

There’s something a little bit uncanny valley about these sunnies, isn’t there? I can’t tell if I think they might be equipped with blink-activated laserbeams, ready to turn a dissenting ground jury to fine powder in a flash, or whether my spidey senses are telling me they’re X-ray specs that can see through all those purple outfits. Actually, the reality of the matter is that they’re probably a very swish looking version of the ill-fated Google Glass, and the reason Doug looks so serious while he’s jogging down the strip is actually because he’s googling “do birds ever just fly for fun?”

The Second Annual Golden Chinch for Looking Like an Attendee at a Redneck Wedding

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“Look, once you get to second cousins, it basically don’t even count anymore.”

The Golden Chinch for Adding a Fourth High-Risk Phase of Eventing

Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me. Photo by Abby Powell.

You’ve got to hand it to Canada’s Lisa Marie Fergusson, who evidently took a stroll around Derek di Grazia’s beefy track and thought, “this? This is it? I only have to gallop at full tilt for eleven minutes over 35 or so maxed out solid obstacles, only some of which are equipped with safety devices? Before that, I only have to attempt to ride around a giant sandpit with a half-tonne animal that’s scared of its own farts? On the final day, I only need to fling myself at obstacles that are the size of four Subway sandwiches stacked lengthwise and spray-painted with some business logos? I thought I was here for some extreme sport, but this is simply disappointing.” And so, to upgrade the experience for herself and many, many rapt spectators, she decided to patent the concept of Danger Jogs™ and go for a blindfolded run alongside a creature that has evolved to essentially be a bad decision on legs. She’s got some brass cajones, that one.

The Golden Chinch for Apex Predator Fashion

Jonelle Price and McClaren. Photo by Abby Powell.

While we’re on the subject of how various creatures evolve, let’s talk about this outfit. I’m a big fan: it’s simple, it’s flowy, it looks comfortable to run in, and it’s, well, sweet. Jonelle looks like the kind of lady who’d bring you a casserole and a freshly baked Victoria sponge cake because she heard you’d worked yourself up a bit over a Hallmark movie. She looks like she might be part of the local school’s PTA. She looks so harmless.

You know what else looks harmless, though? A tiger cub. N’awwww, what a cute big fluffy kitty! Look at its big cartoon eyes! Look at its comically oversized toe beans! Don’t you just want to tickle its fluffy belly and listen to its sweet little purr? WRONG! Now you’ve been mauled to death by a murder machine with no natural predators! It lured you in, and you were fooled, and now you’re done-zo, pal. You’re a goner. That’s exactly what sweet little cookie-baking Jonelle is doing here. You might think she’s real cute now, but how are you going to feel when she’s finished on a sub-25 score and you’re left behind, eating her dust and nursing your wounds? Yeah, I thought so.

The Golden Chinch for Crypto-Bro Chic

Bobby Meyerhoff and Fortuna. Photo by Abby Powell.

Every time I need to type ‘Bicton’, which is the name of the West Country venue that hosted a pop-up Burghley replacement last year, my phone loses its little mind for a minute and autocorrects it to ‘Bitcoin.’ In this get-up, Bobby Meyerhoff looks like a man who wants to make sure that’s not a typo.

“Hey, man,” he says, cornering you in the stables in a puff of vape smoke and glancing over his shoulder shiftily before continuing. “I don’t know what your, like, money situation is, but you seem like a cool guy. I like you, ya know? So here’s the thing: I just wanted to make sure you had the 411 on the ol’ crypto thing. Yeah, yeah, you know, Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum – maybe a bit of Shiba Inu? Bongger? It’s the future, man, and you’ve gotta make sure you’re filling your wallet now.”

Sensing that he’s losing his audience, he reaches into his back pocket and pulls out his phone. On the screen is a drawing of a bored ape. It is, perhaps, the most visually unappealing thing you’ve ever seen.

“This could make you rich, my man,” he says, pressing it towards you. “And I can get your name on the blockchain right now. No questions asked. By dressage, you’ll be on your way to your first million.”

You decline and walk away. As you turn the corner, you hear him quietly mutter to himself, “Elon Musk wouldn’t have turned down my apes.”

The “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” Golden Chinch

Pippa Funnell and Maybach. Photo by Abby Powell.

Look, America, we know Pippa’s great, but hands off. She’s our English rose, not your lawless cowgirl hellion, and we don’t know what you’ve done to her over the last few days, but we’re going to need you to stop. If she turns up at Badminton next week and greets the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort with a ‘howdy, y’all’ our country’s entire fragile infrastructure will crumble. The monarchy will end, the red buses will break down, and our little island will be swallowed up by the sea. The only thing that’ll remain is a few tea leaves on the surface. You’ve had that once already; you don’t need it again. She’s our national treasure, damn it, and we don’t like sharing.

The Golden Chinch for Wearing Pink on Wednesday

Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Abby Powell.

“Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?”

This is me, wounded and weary after very much jog.

Sonow it’s your turn, dear readers. It’s an important vote you’re casting, to determine our winner, so think carefully and vote by Friday, April 30 at 5 p.m. EST. Whichever rider wins the popular vote will get a glorious pair of highly covetable Fairfax and Favor shoes, which is just about enough incentive to stop any of them from seeking me out for a little bout of fisticuffs, I think. (I hope.)

But it’s not just about the riders: we want you to get your hands on some sweet F&F swag, too. If you’re at the Horse Park this week, head to the Hound & Hare booth and snap a selfie. Pop it on social media and tag us, @houndandhare, and @fairfaxandfavor, and you’ll be entered to win a frankly delightful Mini Windsor handbag. Happy snapping!

#lrk3de Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream, Tickets, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Form GuideEN’s Ultimate Guide to LRK3DE, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Andrew Hoy’s Kentucky Memories

Whenever we head back to the Kentucky Horse Park, whether we do so as spectators, journalists, riders, grooms, photographers, owners, or vendors, every step we take sees up following well-trodden paths, heavy with the memories of the people and horses who went before us. As we head into another renewal of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, we wanted to take a moment to revisit the not-so-distant past — and today, we’re heading down the rabbit hole with Australian eventer Andrew Hoy.

(We’re also quite partial to the idea of a nettle gin and tonic, mind you.)

Elevate®

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Elevate was developed to provide a highly bioavailable source of natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate) to horses.

Check out this KPP article: Vitamin E and the Performance Horse – A Winning Combination.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®. KPPusa.com

It’s No Gymkhana Game: Take a Sneak Peek at the Kentucky Courses

The Park Question at 7ABC will present a tough challenge in the first half of this year’s course. Photo courtesy of the Cross Country App.

Ever since the Badminton course was released a little over a week ago, we’ve all been waiting on tenterhooks to see how Derek diGrazia‘s Kentucky course would compare. And now, finally, we’ve got our first tantalising glimpses, courtesy of the fine folks over at the Cross Country App. Click through to go for a virtual walk around the CCI5* track, with additional information on some of the course’s major questions from Derek himself. There’s also a map and fence images for the CCI4*-S, which proved to be a seriously tough course in last year’s inaugural running. This year’s five-star track will run effectively in the opposite direction to last year, and makes use of some parts of the Horse Park that Derek hasn’t previously used, which adds a rather exciting element of the unknown to proceedings. There’s some seriously juicy questions out there, and with the weather forecast looking gloomier by the minute, we’re expecting this phase to exert plenty of influence.

THE FIVE STAR CHALLENGE

The 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* course.

Length: 6308m

Numbered fences: 28

Optimum time: 11:04

Check it out via CrossCountry App

THE CCI4*-S TRACK

The 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI4*-S course.

Length: 3960m

Numbered fences: 21

Optimum time: 6:57

Check it out via CrossCountry App

Of course, this isn’t the only insight you’ll get into the course before Saturday’s action commences. We’ll be heading out into the depths of the Horse Park, and chatting to Derek and some of this year’s competitors alike to get a comprehensive insight into what you can expect when the big day rolls around. Plus, there’s still time to sign up for our free coursewalk with Kyle Carter and Buck Davidson, which will take place on Friday afternoon and promises to be a very jolly time indeed.

Stay tuned for lots more from the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event. Go Eventing!

#LRK3DE Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream (North America), Live Stream (Outside of North America), Form GuideTicketsEN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Kentucky At A Glance: Meet the 5* Horses

We’re creeping ever closer to the first horse inspection at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, which is set to get underway this afternoon at 3pm EST/8pm BST. Do you have butterflies? Because here in Camp EN, we’ve absolutely got butterflies. In fact, I’d say we’ve tipped over the edge and now have fully-fledged pigeons causing mayhem in our small intestines. On second thought, maybe this is something we need to get checked out.

Anyway, whatever the state of your internal aviary, we know that this is prime time for getting to know the field of competitors you’ll be cheering on over the next four days. Yesterday, we gave you the rundown of all the need-to-know rider stats for this year’s five-star field — and today, we’re back with a closer look at their horses.

You can take a look at the full entry list here, and brush up on the entries in full in our Ultimate Form Guide here — and then, don’t forget to enter our Pick ‘Em & Win Contest from Horseware by today at noon EST!

Go Eventing – and Go Kentucky!

#LRK3DE Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream (North America), Live Stream (Outside of North America), Form GuideTicketsEN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

#lrk3de Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream, Tickets, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Form GuideEN’s Ultimate Guide to LRK3DE, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

The Bluegrass Showdown Begins: Team EN Picks Their Winners for Kentucky

A feeling like no other: the Rolex Stadium, full of people united by the love of horses once again. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Here’s the thing about a five-star: even to get there, to unload a healthy, happy horse into the stables and to go for your first hack around the grounds is an extraordinary accomplishment, and one that most riders will only ever be able to daydream about. Win, lose, finish, or fall, nobody can take away from a rider the enormity of the fact that they did it: over the course of years of hard work and thousands of hours of careful planning, they got their beloved horse to this point. To every single rider, groom, owner, horse, and connection at Kentucky this week, we salute you. You are now the heroes to whom little girls and boys aspire. Wear that mantle proudly, but wear it with grace and care, because it’s a rare and special thing.

In every competition, though, there’s got to be that small handful that rise above, triumphant at the end of an intense week of hardcore horsing. To that end, the team at EN have put their thinking caps on, led with their heads (okay, and sometimes with their hearts), and made their predictions for what we might be about to see unfold over the next five days.

What do you think of our predictions? Let us know your own in the comments and don’t forget to enter our Horseware Pick ‘Em & Win competition for your chance to win a pair of Horseware IceVibe boots. Want to brush up on your intel before you pick? Head over to our jam-packed form guide to find out everything you need to know about each entrant.

#lrk3de Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream, Tickets, EN’s Coverage, The Form GuideEN’s Ultimate Guide to LRK3DE, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

SHELBY ALLEN

Big Winner: Although it’s technically the horse’s five-star debut, I’ve learned not to bet against Michael Jung. Especially paired with the flashy fisherChipmunk FRH, who claims over 40 top-ten International finishes to his name.

Top American:  I’ve got to go with Will Coleman and Off The Record. Affectionately referred to as a “kitchen table with a few Ferrari engines attached,” “Timmy,” won Aachen last fall and I think he and Will are here to beat their top fifteen finish of 2021.

Top Canadian: I watched Jessica Phoenix finish six horses in the four-star at Bouckaert International a few weeks ago and I’m still tired. I think she’ll be our top-placed Canadian with Bogue Sound. 

Top Thoroughbred: Sea of Clouds and Phillip Dutton 

Best Mare: I’ve been a Fleeceworks Royal fan since I watched her jet over to Le Lion as a 7-year-old. Arriving for her CCI5* debut, “Rory,” has one of the most determined pilots in the business. With Tamie Smith on board I’m expecting a big finish from this pair.

Spoiler Alert: Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. They’ve been USEF National Champions here before, so I wouldn’t put it past them to take advantage of some stars aligning.

Top Rookie: I’m going to go with my first instinct and pick Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancando, which is coincidentally how Booli bought Lance six years ago, on a gut decision.

Sarah Bullimore and Corouet. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

TILLY BERENDT

Big Winner: Everyone will be so transfixed by Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk, who will have taken a significant lead on their 22.1 dressage score, that they’ll almost forget about the tiny chestnut Corouet. But when the European individual bronze medallist canters into the ring with Great Britain’s Sarah Bullimore, he’ll do so having just whispered a really naughty word at Chipmunk under his breath, and he’ll be daring you not to pay attention. Aware that he’s got a point to prove for short kings everywhere, he’ll replicate the 19.6 he earned in the CCI4*-S at Burgham last year and then flounce out of the ring, obviously thinking “what, like it’s hard?” The rest of the week will become a match-race that’ll divide horsey households around the world. Sarah is, in my opinion, the most underrated rider on the scene right now and she’s overdue a five-star win after coming achingly close with the quirky Reve du Rouet, who we’ll see at Badminton the following week. Tiny, spicy Corouet, who she bred from her former top-level mare Lilly Corinne, is one of those rare, special characters that we’ll be talking about for years to come, and I think they’ve got this in the bag. Fans of the late, great Theodore O’Connor will be in for a treat.

Top American: I’m writing off Tamie Smith and Mai Baum here, purely on the assumption that their plan A of Badminton will go ahead. With double-entrants off my list, I’m looking at Tsetserleg and Boyd Martin to bounce back after their unlucky tumble last year. Boyd will be coming to Kentucky full of that magic confidence that comes after a five-star win, and he’ll have his eyes firmly on the prize that has eluded him for so long.

Top Canadian: For me, it’s always Jollybo, ridden by Hawley Bennett-Awad. I love a feisty, game mare, and she was sourced by Kate Tarrant, the British rider with whom I’m based, so I’m happily biased in her favour. I am also beginning to realise I’ve chosen only the tiniest horses in the field for my picks, which says an awful lot about my taste, I guess.

Top Thoroughbred: Phillip Dutton‘s Sea of Clouds impressed on his debut at Maryland last year, finishing 13th, and I can see him bettering that result here. His showjumping will probably stand in his way at the moment, but he’s incredibly efficient across the country, and a great ambassador for ex-racehorses.

Best Mare: It’s a five-star debut for Hallie Coon‘s Global Ex, but the diminutive grey mare, who wouldn’t even see 16hh in stilettos, has never yet met a challenge she didn’t gobble up easily. They went to Boekelo last autumn to compete as individuals for the USA, and though it was just ‘Dolly’s’ second run at the level, they were foot-perfect through the jumping phases to record the only FOD of the week and finish seventh. They won’t frighten the obvious leaders in the first phase, where we can expect a low-to-mid-30s mark, but from then on out, they’ll dig their heels in and climb. A wet weekend and a tough track would suit them marvellously – we’ve set to see Dolly meet any conditions that she deems too difficult.

Spoiler Alert: Young British talent Yasmin Ingham is already a household name in the UK eventing scene, because she’s won every age title there is to win over here — plus, she took the temporarily relocated eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S class in 2020 with Banzai du Loir before returning to Blenheim last year to win the CCI4*-L. This is the week she becomes a global eventing phenomenon with her gutsy, wise-beyond-her-years performances aboard her five-star debutant horse. I’d be happy to put money on a top five finish.

Top Rookie: If we’re talking five-star debutants at their first Kentucky, it’s hard to look past Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135, who won the CCI4*-L USEF National Championships at the end of 2021. Woods also gets the eye candy vote, which is nearly as important as the tiny-feisty-pony vote as far as I’m concerned.

Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me. Photo by Sally Spickard.

EMA KLUGMAN

Big Winner: Sarah Bullimore and Corouet. This little horse stole my heart at the European championships last year, and he’s my secret favorite to steal the whole show. He doesn’t have a weak phase, and I think he will enjoy the return of the massive crowds at Kentucky and jump everyone’s socks off.

Top American: Will Coleman is a beautiful, effective rider to watch. After an impressive 5*L completion at Maryland last year and a great win at Carolina 4*S this spring, Dondante strikes me as the American horse who will challenge the top of the leaderboard if he can put in a dazzling dressage test. I think this horse is the best American jumper in the field.

Top Canadian: Lisa Marie Ferguson and Honor Me. Lisa and this wonderful jumping horse have so much experience together and should put together yet another amazing trip around the bluegrass. Their partnership is one that young riders and amateurs should take note and learn from.

Top Thoroughbred: Sea of CloudsPhillip Dutton is one of the best cross country riders in the world. Provided he can keep most of the show jumps up, I think this sporty TB will smoke around inside the time and score a good finish.

Best Mare: Hallie Coon‘s Global Ex. Never underestimate a little mare with a lot of scope. This grey is one of the most exciting horses in the U.S., in my opinion, and I’m excited to watch her tackle her first five-star.

Spoiler Alert: It’s hard to bet against Jonelle Price and McClaren. I remember watching this horse when he was under the saddle of Mark Todd, who took him to the WEG in Tryon four years ago. He is probably the best jumper in the field, and if it’s raining and tough on Saturday you can bet Jonelle will capitalize on that. They could sneak up the leaderboard.

Top Rookie: My money is on Alex McLeod for this one. Her little Irish horse, Newmarket Jack, can jump a house with his eyes closed, and I have total faith in their partnership. You’ll probably see her collect her prizes at the awards ceremony and then rush back to her full-time job as a veterinarian the next day. She’s inspirational for amateur riders everywhere.

Will Coleman and Off the Record. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

ABBY POWELL

Big Winner: I think Michael Jung is back to claim the Kentucky crown this year and considering fischerChipmunk FRH’s phenomenal dressage record (sub-20 is not uncommon), his jumping ability, and the fact that it’s Michael Jung aboard I’m betting all eyes will be on this pair throughout the weekend. It is technically Chipmunk’s debut at the five-star level by name, though he did compete at this level in the 2018 WEG with his former rider Julia Krajewski, but regardless I think he’ll skip around juuust fine.

Top American: Take your pick: Will Coleman or Will Coleman? I think it’s possible for Will to take this spot on either of his mounts, Off The Record or DonDante, though I’ll give the edge to Aachen winner Off The Record, who finished 15th overall here last year in his 5* debut.

Top Canadian: We don’t have too many to pick from for this category this year, but Hawley Bennett-Awad and the now 18-year-old Jollybo are five-star veterans at this point, and they are coming off a nice romp around the Boukaert International at Chatt Hills CCI4*-S where they had a career best FEI dressage score.

Top Thoroughbred: They’ll need a clean showjumping round to pull it off, but I think they can do it — I’m picking Meghan O’Donoghue and the CANTER-placed Palm Crescent for top-placed TB. This will be the pair’s third five-star together and if they stay on their current upward trajectory then they’ll finish in fine form indeed.

Best Mare: It may be this mare’s first five-star, but I don’t think that’s going to slow her down. Fleeceworks Royal has both the flatwork and hops to be a formidable contender at this level, not to mention she’s got Tamie Smith in the irons.

Spoiler Alert: It feels pretty ridiculous to put this pair here, but I’m going to give this slot to Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. They’ll be looking for a little redemption after their unlucky fall late on course here last year and Boyd will be hungry for a second 5* victory. They’ll have some other top pairs to battle with for that top spot, but they’re more than capable of stealing the win.

Top Rookie: It’s difficult not to pick the 2019 CCI3*-L and 2021 CCI4*-L National Champions, so I’m not going fight it and I’ll go ahead and name Woods Baughman and C’est la Vie 135 our likely top rookie pair. I’m sure that Woods is going to be solely focusing on generally having a good weekend, but the numbers don’t lie and these two could be right up there with some big names by the end of the weekend if all goes well. No pressure, Woods!

Will Coleman and DonDante. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

KATE SAMUELS

Big Winner: Every year, this tradition of picking winners stresses me out. I admit that I actually spend way too much time considering the *actual* probability of each of my candidates, and then in the end I usually say screw it and pick the first name to my head. We all know Michael Jung doesn’t come over here unless he’s pretty damn sure he can take all our money and prizes. I was slightly underwhelmed with fisherChipmunk FRH in Tokyo, but if there ever was a competitive rider out there, it’s Michael, and he’s going to try to leave nothing on the table.

Top American: I have a hunch that Dondante is on an upswing, and while he hasn’t had as much press as his stable mate, Off The Record, Al seems to have finally grown into his enormous body and got a really good education last fall at the Fair Hill 5*. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out swinging first thing on Thursday, and Will Coleman must have a lot of confidence in the horse to go out first thing on the cross country.

Top Thoroughbred: I’ve adored Palm Crescent for many years now, and my love has never wavered. Meghan O’Donoghue is a lovely rider who has been knocking on the door of a good result for a few years now, and I’m hopeful that the 16-year-old thoroughbred will give her that long due ribbon.

Best Mare: Last fall, Hallie Coon rocked up to Boekelo with little bitty Global Ex, and competed for the USA as individuals. This unsuspecting pair ended up the only combination to FOD that weekend, and got a nice 7th place ribbon. Blink and you might miss her, but keep an eye on this white lightening as she climbs up into a competitive spot.

Spoiler Alert: I love Kentucky for a lot of reasons, but I really love when I get to watch Jonelle Price absolutely tear it up on cross country. That woman has the biggest pair of brass you-know-whats in this entire sport, and McClaren is probably the best jumping horse in the field. I can hardly imagine anything giving me more joy than seeing them jump to the top of the leaderboard.

Top Rookie: I’m going with my gut on this one, and picking Alex MacLeod riding her jumping bean Newmarket Jack. Their partnership is a long one, and Alex has really put in more work than your average bear, balancing a full time veterinarian job.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

SALLY SPICKARD

Big Winner: While all eyes will be on Germany’s Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH, I’m going to pick Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF as this weekend’s winners.

“Thomas” is 15 this year, and in the prep work we’ve seen so far this year the black Trakehner gelding — a U.S.-bred sired by the great Windfall II — has looked…really good. It’s been a couple years of “almost but not quite” results for Boyd and Tsetserleg: they finished second at Kentucky in 2019, but then had an untimely fall at the final combination on cross country in 2021.

Now, if Michael and Chipmunk score a 16 and proceed to finish on that, that’ll be about all she wrote. But I’m giving Tsetserleg’s experience (it’s hard to believe it since he was at the Olympics and at WEG in 2018 with Julia Krajewski, but technically this is Chipmunk’s 5* debut — not that that necessarily matters with Michi in the saddle) the leg up here — and let’s face it, Thomas is due for his day!

Top American: I suppose this question goes out the window when I’ve been bold and picked a U.S. winner, but for the sake of fun I’ll go with Will Coleman and Off The Record as my next pick for top American (or even winner, perhaps!). It is hard to bet against the 2021 Aachen winner, and his pilot’s competition record both on this horse as well as the others in his string speaks for itself. Off The Record was 15th at Kentucky, his debut at the level, in 2021 and most recently was third in his final prep at The Fork. It’s hard to bet against consistency and if I had one word to describe Will’s system for development, that would be it.

Top Canadian: This will be the fifth 5* start (sixth if you count WEG in 2018) for Canadian fan favorites Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo, and at 18 years young the not-so-jumbo British mare by Jumbo is looking fit and ready for another run around the Kentucky bluegrass. Show jumping would be the only thing holding this pair back from being more competitive, but you can bet with their relatively early order in the draw (12) they’ll have plenty of riders watching them to see how the track is riding as they always put on a show of quick, efficient riding on cross country day.

Top Thoroughbred: I’m a big fan of Palm Crescent, the bright bay Thoroughbred partnered with OTTB-whisperer Meghan O’Donoghue. The 16-year-old gelding by Quiet American (for you racing fans out there, the sire of the near-Triple Crown winner Real Quiet — one of my favorites when I was younger!) debuted at this level last year and finished strongly at both Kentucky and Maryland. They’ll be a fun pair to watch come Saturday!

Best Mare: Despite the fact this will be the feisty Fleeceworks Royal‘s first 5*, I’m going to give the nod to her. She might be inexperienced at this level, and she may fly a little under the radar thanks to the superstardom of her stablemate, Mai Baum, but it’s good to remember that this mare has been places.

Fleeceworks Royal (Rory or Rora-saurus as she’s often known) competed at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships in France as a seven-year-old and also finished in the top ten individually in Nations Cup competition at Boekelo in 2018. She’s traveled from California to the East coast several times, winding up in the top 20 of her first then-CCI3* at Fair Hill in 2018 and winning the 4*-L at Jersey Fresh in 2019.

For all this success, we most likely would’ve seen the Holsteiner mare, who is 13 this year, make her 5* debut much earlier, but some pesky injuries have sidelined her and then there was the year of cancellations in 2020. But she’s come out in strong form this year, finishing eighth and 12th in her 4*-S prep runs at Carolina and Tryon, respectively — and Tamie has surely not coaxed the peak performance from the mare quite yet.

While Tamie’s priority will be experience, we know she’s as competitive as they come, and we could see them as the Queens of Kentucky in just a few days’ time.

Spoiler Alert: I’ve been listening to Tilly’s adoration of the small and mighty Corouet, who will be piloted by Great Britain’s Sarah Bullimore and I think I’ve officially jumped on the bandwagon. This spicy little guy might be making his first 5* start and his first overseas trip, but he’s really stepped up to the plate as he’s gained more experience; this pair finished in individual bronze position for the Brits at the 2021 European Championships at Avenches to cap off a supremely competitive season. He’s also scored a sub-20 at the 4* level and very nearly finished on it so, there’s that.

I realize this is cheating, but I think you could also easily slot, among others, Doug Payne and his old hand, Vandiver into the spoiler role. “Quinn” is one of if not the the most experienced horses in the field, currently in his impressive 12th season at Advanced/4*/5*. He’s come out looking keen as ever this spring and is hot off a win at Tryon. We don’t know how many more 5*s we’ll be lucky to see Vandiver at, and it would be incredible to see him have a winning weekend as a potential swan song.

Top Rookie: I almost hate this pick because the whole point of your first Kentucky is to have a positive experience. I’ve also have the distinct privilege of chatting with nearly all the rookie riders every year for the last few years, which always makes it impossible to choose just one.

But we’re here to have fun, so I’m going to give my pick to Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135. This pair has shown tons of promise and plenty of raw talent, and while there have been some bumps along the way they’ve also got Sharon White in their corner, who’s been patiently coaxing the best out of them since the beginning of their partnership.

I’d also love to see Washington-based Marc Grandia have a strong weekend with Campari FFF, the horse who has, as he describes it, changed his career for the better.

Tamie and BFF Heather Morris share a hug. Photo by Sally Spickard.

LESLIE WYLIE

As per tradition, I’m refraining from picks and simply wishing every horse and rider a safe, happy 2022 LRK3DE. On behalf of the whole EN team, we’re cheering every last one of this week’s competitors on. Wow us. Surprise us. Show us what you’re made of. Prove us wrong, or right. Give us a reason to believe in you. Go for it. Go Eventing.

#lrk3de Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream, Tickets, EN’s Coverage, The Form GuideEN’s Ultimate Guide to LRK3DE, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feeds

 

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While three of our four collective remaining brain cells are focussed wholly on this week’s (!) Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, we must confess that the last one is stuck in Gloucestershire, England somewhere, still sitting at the top edge of the broken bridge and crying for its mummy. I hadn’t spotted the gallows resemblance until I saw this, erm, colourful description of the rider-frightener, and now it’s all I can think about. I can almost hear the townspeople decrying course designer Eric Winter for witchcraft now. (He turned me into a newt. I got better.)

Events Opening Today: Cobblestone Farms H.T. IGolden Spike H.T.River Glen June H.T.Queeny Park H.T.Middleburg H.T.Woodland Stallion Station H.T.Unionville H.T.Aspen Farm H.T.

Events Closing Today: Tryon International Spring 3-Day EventUSEA MDHT FEH/YEH/NEH QualifierWindRidge Farm Spring H.T.Texas Rose Horse Park H.T.Majestic Oaks Ocala H.T.Woodland Stallion Station H.T.Hitching Post Farm H.T.Unionville May H.T.Winona Horse TrialsGalway Downs Spring H.T.Spokane Sport Horse Spring H.T.

News & Notes from Around the World:

Get to know Dondante, Will Coleman’s trailblazer at Kentucky this week, and find out more about how the prolific rider chooses and produces horses for the top level of the sport.

Caroline March, who was injured in a bad fall in the CCI3*-S at Burnham Market last week, has shared some super updates. The ‘stubborn’ rider underwent a successful surgery to repair her fractured vertebrae and has been regaining muscle sensation and movement in her abs. Click for the full update.

Pasture maintenance isn’t the most glamorous topic, but getting it right is key for your horse’s health — and for the environment. Learn more about how to make the most of the land you’ve got here.

Ready for some quick fire fast facts about this week’s LRK3DE? US Eventing’s got you covered, baby.

Interested in how the sport of eventing might change over the next Olympic cycle? Tune into the FEI Sports Forum to watch all the discussions and debates live.

Listen to this: Get to know Canada’s Lesley Grant-Law, half of the Lesley/Leslie Law power couple of eventing.

Video Break:
Pack for Kentucky with Boyd Martin, whose bag is going to smell…pretty funky, we reckon:

A Hero for all Comers: The Ultimate Form Guide to The Horses and Riders of the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*

Michael Jung, King of Kentucky, celebrates the arrival of yet another enormous EN form guide. Probably. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Though last year’s Kentucky-behind-closed-doors was brilliant, it really does feel like a triumphant comeback this year. The stands of the Rolex Stadium will be full; the rounds will be punctuated with gasps and cheers; the long stretches of bluegrass out on course will be well-trodden by thousands of eager feet, willing each and every horse and rider to a heroic finish. There’s nothing more special, nor more unifying, than the moment when a rider crosses the finish line and sees the culmination of a lifetime of dreaming come true – and no matter whether you want to root for a hometown hero, a global champion, an underdog, an ex-racehorse, or a plucky amateur rider, there’s someone in this field for you to get behind.

Chinch and his team of rodent brethren have been hard at work crunching the numbers on each pair’s predicted performance –- and, crucially, digging out the fun facts you really need to know to pick your favorite for the week. What fun they are, too –- in the sultry depths of this year’s form guide, you’ll discover which competitor dreamed of becoming a bull rider, which horse ‘feels like riding a kitchen table’, which two diminutive powerhouses share a (very quirky) sire, who’s here on holiday time from her job as a full-time vet, and who stands a chance of beating the sub-20 score Michael Jung will probably deliver. It’s a wild ride, folks, and everyone who comes to the Horse Park has a story, a big dream, and a whole lot of history behind them.

We’re particularly excited to get involved with EquiRatings Eventing Manager, which is the fantasy eventing game we’ve all been dreaming of since our formative days as Equestriad 2001-playing nerds. You’ll be able to pick a team of four horses and riders and compete to win real prizes, including some seriously cool EN swag if you join our league. The market opens at 1.00 p.m. EST today, April 26, so you’ve got just enough time to use the form guide to brush up on your knowledge now and get planning your team.

Keep it locked onto EN this week for all the Kentucky news, views, and updates you could possibly need -– and let us know in the comments who your money’s on this week! You can also use your freshly gleaned expertise to submit your pick to win in our Horseware Pick ‘Em & Win Contest here.

Author’s note: You may notice that a few names that appear in the official running order are missing from our form guide. Fear not, dear reader! We haven’t lost our minds. Those horses and riders will be hopping the pond for a jolly good go at next week’s Badminton Horse Trials instead, and you’ll be able to read all about them in that form guide. Onwards!

Want to jump straight to your favorite horse and rider? Click the links below to jump to their section (the combinations are listed by draw number):

2: Will Coleman and Dondante
6: Doug Payne and Vandiver
7: Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre
8: Allie Knowles and Morswood
9: Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus
10: Jessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound
11: Hannah Sue Burnett and Capitol H.I.M.
12: Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo
13: Phillip Dutton and Sea of Clouds
14: Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancado
15: Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135
16: Elisa Wallace and Let It Be Lee
17: Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal
18: Alex MacLeod and Newmarket Jack
19:Buck Davidson and Erroll Gobey
21: Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime
22: Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope
24: James Alliston and Paper Jam
25: Ashlynn Meuchel and Emporium
26: Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights
28: Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara
29: Hallie Coon and Global Ex
30: Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle
31: Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me
32: Joseph Murphy and Calmaro
33: Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF
35: Buck Davidson and Sorocaima
36: Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH
37: Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot
38: Jonelle Price and McClaren
39: Lauren Nicholson and Landmark’s Monte Carlo
40: Will Coleman and Off the Record
41: Bobby Meyerhoff and Fortuna
42: Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent
43: Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise
44: Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit
45: Doug Payne and Quantum Leap
46: Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z
49: Yazmin Ingham and Bonzai Du Loir
50: Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire
51: Marc Grandia and Campari FFF
52: Mike Pendleton and Steady Eddie
53: Sarah Bullimore and Corouet
54: Buck Davidson and Carlevo
55: Will Faudree and PFun
56: Pippa Funnell and Maybach

Will Coleman and Dondante. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

2: Will Coleman and DonDante (USA)

Twelve-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Pachio x Muckno Clover, by Euro Clover). Owned by Team Rebecca, LLC.

It’ll be a third appearance at the 5* level for Will Coleman’s incredibly tall Dondante, who debuted at Kentucky last spring but finished his week early when he hung a leg at the Head of the Lake, giving Will a free diving lesson in the process. But as frustrating as an unplanned dunking is, it was also an educational moment –- and Will certainly spent the months since Kentucky solidifying his form. He returned to the level at Maryland in October after an up-and-down summer that saw him jump clear around the CCI3*-S at Great Meadow but retire on course in the CCI4*-S at Morven Park. It wasn’t, perhaps, the ideal prep, but everything worked out for the best: the pair finished fifteenth at Maryland, adding just 3.6 time across the country and a total of 4.4 penalties in showjumping to their first-phase score of 32.6.

While it’s not quite Dondante’s time to fight for the win, expect him to deliver three solid performances and make the most of the course: he’s a much more established competitor this year, and Will will be keenly aware of when and where he can push for a little bit more. The trailblazer spot is a tricky one to take on, and Will’s been thrust into it by surprise after the withdrawal of Buck Davidson’s Jak My Style, but he’s a pragmatic competitor and will still be riding high on the unique brand of confidence a major win gives a rider. He picked one of those up in September when he took the prestigious CCIO4*-S at Aachen with Off The Record.

It won’t be far from his mind that the gelding is capable of delivering similar victories in the years to come – and could pull out a very respectable result this week, too. His first phase performance will have him out of touch with the leaders, but a solid cross-country round would help him climb – and this is the horse everyone wants to ride come Sunday. He’s easily one of the best showjumpers in the field, with just two international rails to his name in nineteen FEI starts.

Oh, and his name? It comes from a song by My Morning Jacket -– one of Will’s favorite bands — as does that of his stablemate, Off The Record. His namesake song is quite the musical trip, if you feel like taking a listen. Trust us, we’ve done many a deep dive into the musical likings of one Mr. Will Coleman.

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Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

6: Doug Payne and Vandiver (USA)

Eighteen-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall II x Visions of Grandeur). Owned by Debi Crowley, Jessica Payne and the rider.

Debi Crowley’s Vandiver will be the first of two rides for Doug this weekend in the CCI5* at Kentucky — but he’s going to be very busy beyond that, with entries in the CCI4*-S and the CSI3* showjumping class. He’ll certainly enjoy heading out of the startbox with his experienced longtime partner first in this class, though, because at this point, tackling a five-star with the gelding has got to feel a bit like slipping on a really comfy pair of shoes. This will be their sixth start at the level and their fifth Kentucky; their best result here came in 2019, when they finished fifth. They returned last year and took twelfth place, which certainly helped them get selected as reserves for the Tokyo Olympics — a situation that ultimately saw them compete after the withdrawal of Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. They did themselves proud there, finishing in 16th place individually.

Consistency has been the name of the game for Vandiver, who with Doug in the irons has accumulated multiple top placings at the Advanced and CCI4*-S level. It’s no secret that Vandiver is a favorite of longtime Payne Equestrian groom Courtney Carson, who will be caring for him this weekend. He’s a quirky guy on the emotional side, whose biggest fear is big tractors, but he’s also happy to take a working student out for a hack around the property like a perfect trail horse. Courtney says if he were a human, he’d be the 65-year-old man still running marathons and Spartan races.

This is the first pair out of the start box that we’ll be able to use to gauge the time allowed. Vandiver tends to be quick, and Doug is very savvy about finding creative, economical lines, so if they can’t catch the time, we’ll know nice and early that the time penalties will come thick and fast throughout the day. Their efficiency will help them climb from their mid-30s first-phase score — though they certainly can go sub-30 at four-star, they trend higher at this level — and if they can lay down one of the quickest rounds of the day, they stand to allow a bit of a buffer for the rail they’ll knock on Sunday. A top ten finish isn’t out of the question, but in this caliber of field, top fifteen feels more likely.

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Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

7: Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre (GREAT BRITAIN)

Thirteen-year-old Selle Français gelding (Gentleman IV x Jasmina du Fresne). Owned by Tre’ Book.

“Larger than life” is how British Olympic gold medalist Leslie Law would describe the flashy Voltaire de Tre, who at the age of just 10 made an excellent CCI5* debut at Kentucky 2019 to finish in the top 10 overall. ‘Splash’, who is owned by and named after Tre Book, will now make his fourth start at the level, having also done Kentucky and Maryland last year. Their Kentucky run saw them finish 26th on a steady double clear, and at Maryland, they picked up 22nd place after activating a safety device on course.

With looks to match his ‘splashy’ personality, the French-bred gelding is impossible to miss, but sometimes this part of his personality can make him a bit of a handful to ride. Generally speaking, though, Leslie calls Splash a “trier” who does want to do his best work, even when it’s hard to contain his enthusiasm for the task at hand. The pair have scored sub-35 in their last two five-stars and should do the same again this week, though a 36.5 in their prep run at Red Hills CCI4*-S, where they finished 10th, will mean they really need to ride every stride and get on the same page to deliver the test they’re capable of. On Saturday, they’re a consistent and reliable pair, though not among the fastest in the field, so will be hoping for a tougher track to give them some climbing room. On difficult days, these ‘stayer’ horses are able to climb; on less influential days, it becomes a question of who can cross the finish line the fastest, which can work against some otherwise very good horses. Sunday sees them head into the ring with a roughly 60% chance of a clear, though Splash does tend to jump at his best on the final day of a three-day, which isn’t unusual for a spicy horse. Leslie will, no doubt, be aiming for another top ten finish this week.

Based in Ocala, Florida with his wife, Lesley, and their son, Liam, Leslie also does plenty of coaching as the USEF Eventing Development and Emerging Athletes Coach. He can typically be found helping the next generation of star event riders hone their skills, complementing the practical curriculum with other well-rounded teachings to produce not only competent riders, but excellent horsemen and women.

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Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Abby Powell.

8: Allie Knowles and Morswood (USA)

Fourteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Richardo Z x Princess In Arms). Owned by Katherine O’Brien.

It’ll be a sophomore CCI5* for Morswood, who was originally produced by Great Britain’s Piggy March before handing the reins to her then-stable jockey, Ireland’s Susie Berry. With Susie, the gelding contested the Young Rider European Championships in 2017, and though he didn’t pass the final horse inspection, he proved how quick and competitive he can be across the country.

Since pairing up with Allie, who’s best known for tackling the biggest courses in the world with her OTTB Sound Prospect, he’s picked up some exciting results –- but also some green, educational ones. They went to Maryland for his first five-star off the back of a couple of his best performances at CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L, which set them up well for the gelding’s biggest challenge yet. He rose to the occasion with aplomb, finishing eleventh and giving Allie her best-ever five-star result.

Busy Allie doesn’t just produce horses and compete –- she’s also a certified trainer and helps her students achieve their own goals, too. That penchant for multitasking and super work ethic comes from her days as a Pony Clubber — she’s an A graduate of Sierra Gold Pony Club. Even more incredible? She’s a new mom, and managed that Maryland result less than a year postpartum. Baby Atticus is very much a part of Allie’s life on the road, and competing at a five-star is a family effort more than ever, now –- so expect to see plenty of happy tears and cheers as she and Ginge cross the finish line in pursuit of another excellent result. They should post around the 30 mark in dressage, though they can go sub-30 and will be aiming for it, and another clear with a handful of time will make them a threat at the upper end of the leaderboard. They can have a couple of rails down, historically, but they perform brilliantly under pressure and went clear when it counted at Maryland.

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Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

9: Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus (USA)

Fifteen-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding (Serazim x Wake Me Gently). Owned by Jacqueline Mars.

Though Lauren and her cool little guy, nicknamed ‘Bug’, remain on the entry list for Kentucky, they plan to go simply to throw down a dressage test and then reroute to Luhmühlen. Their plan for the spring had been to contest Badminton, but last month, Bug knocked his fetlock in training and Lauren opted to wind his intense conditioning work back while the swelling wore off, rather than risking a more serious injury. Though he didn’t come up lame at any point, she wisely didn’t want to compromise his soundness, but the missed work meant that he hasn’t picked up enough fitness to run at this level. A ‘schooling’ test in the stadium will be a useful exercise, and we look forward to seeing the diminutive powerhouse head back to Germany for his first visit to Luhmühlen.

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Jessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

10: Jessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound (CANADA)

Fifteen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Crafty Shaw x Carolina Blue). Owned by Amara Hoppner.

Bogue Sound, the Kentucky-bred Thoroughbred originally snapped off the track by Dorothy Crowell, was born to do cross-country. The chestnut gelding, who won a little over $11,000 through seven racing starts, became Jessie’s ride for owner Amara Hoeppner in 2016 after he’d done some Preliminary events. Now fifteen, ‘Bogie’ is preparing for his third CCI5*, having finished in the top 15 in his debut at Kentucky in 2019 and 21st at Maryland last year.

Olympian Jessie, who bases in Ontario for most of the year, is a bit of a superwoman herself. She’s made several successful returns to competition after sustaining many a serious injury, two maternity leaves, and the multiple other highs and lows that can be found dotting any event rider’s career timeline. Now, Bogue Sound looks set to step up to Jessie’s top string as she looks ahead to the World Equestrian Games and Canada’s ongoing rebuilding process on the world stage. Look for her to seek a competitive finish here, maybe even improving on Bogie’s top-15 in his first five-star.

He’s yet to pick up a jumping penalty in 24 international starts with Jessie in the irons. And while he, like most Thoroughbreds, tends not to love the first phase of competition, his scores have trended towards more competitive as he’s gotten stronger and more experienced. We’d ordinarily call him a mid-30s horse, but he pulled it out of the bag in a big way at Maryland, laying down a very respectable 29.6 –- his first and only sub-30 score in an FEI event. This year, he’s posted a 36.4 in the CCI4*-S at Red Hills, but followed that up with a promising 30.1 in the CCI4*-S at Bouckaert International, so another serious test this week isn’t out of the question at all. On cross-country, we’ll be looking to see them add a handful of time penalties, and their major obstacle for the week will be Sunday’s showjumping test – Bogie has only jumped clear three times in his international career, and had a frustrating five down at Maryland.

Bogie’s a trusting, laid-back guy who still has a good sense of humor. If he were to have a celebrity doppleganger, Jessica told Horse Sport, it would likely be country singer Blake Shelton. No word yet on whether or not he can carry a tune.

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Hannah Sue Burnett and Capitol H I M. Photo by Shelby Allen.

11: Hannah Sue Burnett and Capitol H I M (USA) – ROOKIE HORSE

Fifteen-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Con Air x O-Heraldika). Owned by Christa Schmidt.

There are a number of horses making their five-star debuts at reasonably advanced ages this year, which is largely a function of the pandemic –- all the lost competitions and diminished seasons means that a lot of horses effectively lost a couple of years of mileage. One such late bloomer is Capitol H I M, who comes forward for his first five-star at fifteen. But in his case, it’s not actually a function of the pandemic that he’s debuting later. He actually didn’t start his international eventing career until 2019.

‘Cheeto’ is best friends with Hannah’s other ride, Harbour Pilot, and the two are turned out together at home – which has been a good humbling exercise for William, who happily lets Cheeto boss him around.

Though he’s reasonably new to the upper levels, Cheeto is no slouch: he stepped up to four-star last April and has never finished outside the top ten at the level. His mid-30s score won’t see him in the hunt from the get-go here, but he has everything it takes to deliver a respectable, if steady and educational, round on Saturday. Come Sunday, he’ll be in his element: he’s one of the best show jumpers in the field and has never had a rail at four-star or in either of his two long-format runs.

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Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo. Photo by RedBayStock.com.

12: Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo (CANADA)

Eighteen-year-old British Sport Horse mare (Jumbo x Polly Coldunnell). Owned by the Jollybo Syndicate and the rider.

Two-time Canadian Olympian Hawley has had some special horses in her life, and the 18-year-old Jollybo has certainly stepped into her predecessors’ shoes with class and just a little bit of sass. This weekend will be the seventh CCI5* start together for this pair, who first joined up in 2016 after the little mare was sourced by Great Britain’s Kate Tarrant and produced in the U.S. through the the CCI4*-L level by fellow Brit Justine Dutton. Hawley would likely tell you her preference is a cheeky bay mare –- if you hearken back to the Gin & Juice days, you might see a few commonalities.

This is a pair that’s been working hard at home to hone their craft, and Hawley can often be found bringing riders such as her longtime coach Buck Davidson out to her home base in southern California for regular clinics. Her hard work has paid off, as Jollybo’s dressage scores have trended downward since their partnership began. After rerouting to Jersey Fresh last spring after a minor foot issue kept Jollybo off the cross-country at Kentucky out of an abundance of caution, Hawley and “Jolly” finished 14th in the CCI4*-L and also picked up a top-five finish in the CCI4*-L at Rebecca Farm last summer. They then ticked their five-star box for the year at Maryland, finishing 20th. This year, we’ve seen them tackle one international –- the CCI4*-S sat Bouckaert International – but they did so with aplomb, earning a significant international personal best of 26.8 in the first phase.

Though the mare is in the latter stages of her career, we wouldn’t rule them out for the WEG –- so expect them to go for it here, as a solid performance will give them a real shot at selection. We’d love to see her dip sub-30, but a low-30s mark is more realistic, and they’ll be hunting for another clear with a handful of time penalties. Their best-ever finish here was twelfth place back in 2017, and they could go for a top fifteen finish again — as long as Sunday goes okay. Their three rails at Maryland were expensive, and we haven’t seen them go clear over the poles in an international since 2019.

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Phillip Dutton and Sea of Clouds. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

13: Phillip Dutton and Sea of Clouds (USA)

Eleven-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Malibu Moon x Winner’s Ticket). Owned by the Sea of Clouds Partnership.

This is a super field for fans of Thoroughbreds, with a total of eight entered –- and the eleven-year-old failed racehorse Sea Of Clouds will certainly give fans of the ‘underdog’ something to cheer about. ‘Socs’ didn’t have much success on the track, and actually retired from racing after just two starts, despite costing a whopping $170,000 as a yearling. But he’d been in training with Graham Motion, who had also trained Icabad Crane, and so the trainer –- and owner Sheikh Fahad al-Thani –- decided to give the system another go.

Socs proved a prodigy in his new career, winning his first-ever event, and since stepping up to the upper levels, he’s picked up innumerable top-ten placings, including third in the Morven Park CCI4*-S in 2019, tenth in the Great Meadow CCI4*-S in 2020, and fifth at Jersey Fresh CCI4*-L last May. He’s naturally very quick and bold, and was impressive in his five-star debut at Maryland, where he finished thirteenth after a classy clear inside the time proved why American Thoroughbreds deserve a chance to shine at the upper levels.

We’ve seen Socs out and about in just one international since Maryland, and that was the CCI4*-S at the Fork at Tryon, where he delivered a tidy fifth place finish, very nearly finishing on his 34.3 dressage, but for two seconds across the country and one in show jumping. That dressage score was actually high for him –- he put a 31.5 up at Maryland, which is much closer to his usual average. If he can replicate that at Kentucky, he stands a very good chance of fighting for a top ten finish -– though the one real question mark for him is the final phase. He had two down at Maryland, which isn’t unusual for him, particularly at a three-day.

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Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancado. Photo by Abby Powell.

14: Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancando (USA) – ROOKIE PAIR

Fifteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding ((Lancer II x Fancy II, by Langata Express xx). Owned by Jacqueline Thorne, Kelly Morgan, and the rider.

New Yorker Booli heads to her first-ever five-star this week with Lance, her partner of six years, who she bought from equine vet Kevin Keane as a Prelim horse. Lance is one of those great characters of horse sport: though he’s categorically enormous at 17.1hh, he’s a bashful boy who often looks like he’s just hatched when he’s in a new place, according to Booli’s groom, Anna Ciampaglione. “He’s like ‘oh my gosh, the world is so big and bright’ even though he’s 15 years old and has seen everything there is to be seen,” Anna tells EN.

Though Booli and Lance’s journey up the levels has been slowed down a bit by injuries — both to horse and rider — they’ve put in some great results in their 13 FEI starts together. They finished their 2021 season with a ninth place finish in the CCI4*-L at Morven Park, and have gone clear in all six of their four-stars. Lance isn’t a naturally super quick horse, but he’s consistent and reliable, and knows he can trust his rider even when all those scary new things appear in his sight. They’ll be aiming to stay sub-40 in the first phase and will head out on course to chase a confidence-building clear that’ll set them both up well for the future. A likely rail or two on Sunday won’t dim the glow of a first Kentucky completion -– a magic moment for any rider.

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Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

15: Woods Baughman and C’est la Vie 135 (USA) – ROOKIE PAIR

Fourteen-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I x Anette). Owned by Kim and James Baughman and the rider.

It’ll be a five-star debut for 25-year-old Woods and his excellent German gelding, with whom he became the USEF CCI4*-L National Champion back in November. That’s a pretty good title to carry into a step up of this magnitude, which will be a homecoming of sorts, too — Woods is a Lexington native, and first visited the three-day when he was just a tiny six-year-old, taking weekly ‘up-down’ lessons and dreaming of life as… a bull rider. Though his goals have (fortunately) shifted, he’ll still have a hero’s welcome in his hometown – you’ll spot his friends and family out tailgating on Saturday, with three spots reserved just for the Woods fan club.

These days, Woods trains with Sharon White, who he first started working with when he was part of the Young Rider program, which she coached. His first job away from home was a winter spent in Florida at her southern base, and it was through Sharon that he was able to secure a year-long stint in Germany, where he based with Dirk Schrade. Dirk would help him find C’est La Vie, who was produced to CCI3*-S by Ben Leuwer – a rider responsible for a number of excellent horses, including Clever Louis, winner of the 2019 Blenheim eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S under Chris Burton.

Just a matter of months into their partnership, Woods and ‘Contendro’, as he’s known at home, won the 2019 CCI3*-L National Championship. It was a brilliant way to close out their first season together, and the stage seemed set for an excellent 2021 -– but it all went pear-shaped when they came to Kentucky for the inaugural, very tough CCI4*-S. Woods fell on cross-country after the gelding hung a leg over a fence, and in doing so, broke two lumbar vertebrae. Though he was back riding within weeks, he and Contendro had to go back to the drawing board with their cross-country performances, which suffered an ebb of confidence and, crucially, control. A major step down to the Preliminary level helped them rebuild and they returned to the upper levels stronger and better than ever. In their last five FEI runs, they’ve only been outside of the top five once — and that was a 12th place finish in the CCI3*-S at Unionville, where they ran steadily.

Now, they return to Kentucky with bigger goals and more confidence in one another than ever. Their goal will be to start the week with a sub-30 score, which they’ve consistently delivered at four-star, and then to attack Derek di Grazia’s course boldly, listening to one another throughout and building their foundations for their very exciting future. Their sensible, educational steadiness will probably keep them from fighting for a placing this time, but Woods knows now that you can make the biggest leaps as a rider by taking it one well-thought-out step at a time. Come Sunday, they’ll be grinning: they haven’t had a rail down in an international since 2019.

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

16: Elisa Wallace and Let It Be Lee (USA) – ROOKIE HORSE

Fourteen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Bernstein x Sugaree). Owned by Donna Biggs and Rosemary Spillane. 

We’re sure we’re not alone in feeling like we’ve ridden this very cool Thoroughbred ourselves –- after all, Elisa commits to uploading regular hatcam videos from her competitions, and so we know almost exactly how fun it feels to stare down a big, solid fence between his ears. We’re already hugely overexcited to see the content Elisa produces from her horse’s first five-star, which will be his 17th international start.

Elisa is best known for two things: retraining racehorses and working with mustangs, and there’s a lot more crossover between the two activities than you might think. She does a lot of bareback work with a neck rope with her event horses, working on building trust and partnership in a very foundational way, and she loves just hanging out with the horses, too, and feeding Lee his favourite snacks: jalapeño chips and gummy worms, a not dissimilar diet to that of a busy equestrian journalist, actually.

Lee, who raced in California under the name Leerider, was originally produced through the CCI3*-L level by Canada’s Kyle Carter. It was Kyle who ultimately acted as matchmaker, too: he kept insisting to Elisa that the Thoroughbred in his string was so similar to her former five-star mount, Simply Priceless, that she had to come and try him. Eventually she gave in, and she immediately felt the same feeling that ‘Johnny’ had given her. The rest, as they say, is history — well, history and FEI records. They finished in the top twenty in the very tough CCI4*-S here last year, despite picking up 20 penalties across the country, and they enjoyed their best result at TerraNova in October, where they finished fifth in the CCI4*-S. This will be an educational, rather than a competitive, run for the gelding, who has gone sub-30 at four-star but is likely to deliver a low-to-mid-30s score this week. His cross-country form has some blips, so Elisa will be looking to build his confidence and present him with fair challenges on the way around, so we may see a long route or two and a fair helping of time is to be expected. They’ll likely have two or three rails on the final day, but for those who are fascinated by the journey of producing a horse (which is most of us, because we’re a collective of big nerds here, let’s be honest!), it’ll be a really interesting insight to see how Elisa makes each phase happen, particularly with her generosity in sharing her journey from her point of view.

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Tamie Smith & Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

17: Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal (USA) – ROOKIE HORSE

Thirteen-year-old Holsteiner mare (Riverman x Marisol). Owned by Judith McSwain.

It’ll be a long-awaited five-star debut for the talented Fleeceworks Royal, whose first foray into the global spotlight came in 2018, when the glamorous gals benefitted from the Jacqueline Mars International Competition Grant and competed at Boekelo’s CCI4*-L in the Netherlands. They finished ninth there in strong company, and their competition record has continued on in much the same vein: in 26 FEI starts, Fleeceworks Royal has finished in the top ten 19 times.

Though the striking mare isn’t quite as strong on the flat as stablemate Mai Baum (but to be fair, who is?), she’s very capable of putting in a competitive first-phase performance that’ll have her well in the hunt. She’s generally a high-20s scorer, though in the last year we’ve seen her dip as low as 24.9 in the CCI4*-L at Galway Downs and as high as 32 in the CCI4*-S at Carolina. A score just sub-30 would be about right for her first time tackling the five-star test. On cross-country, she’s enormously reliable: she’s picked up jumping penalties across the country just once in an FEI event, back in 2016, and though she wouldn’t be as fast as some of the horses in this field, she ordinarily romps home with just a handful of time penalties. On Sunday, she leans towards having a rail, particularly over the last year or so, when we’ve seen her tip over her average in this phase.

California girl Tamie has a busy fortnight ahead of her: from Kentucky she’ll head straight to Badminton, where she’s got big plans to frighten everyone into submission with Mai Baum, who’s already been hotly tipped to lead the dressage. There are many fans of the sport for whom Tamie is a particular inspiration, and rightly so: she became a professional while supporting herself as a young single mother, getting an education alongside working, riding, and raising Kaylawna, who’s now a mother and an upper-level event rider in her own right. The big win that Tamie’s on track for might not come this week with this horse, but it’s certainly coming — and it’ll be enormously well-deserved when it arrives.

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Alexandra MacLeod and Newmarket Jack. Photo by Kim Miller.

18: Alex MacLeod and Newmarket Jack (USA) – ROOKIE PAIR

Thirteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Newmarket Jewel x Newmarket Chantepie). Owned by Carla MacLeod and the rider.

A true amateur competitor, five-star debutant Alex fits riding in around a career as a veterinarian in Los Angeles. That means that making it to this level has been a serious labour of love — and of time management. For example, here’s a typical week in her life: on the days that she’s riding before work, she wakes up at 3:45am so she can get to the barn, ride her horse, and then get to work by 7:30am. On the days that she rides after work, she leaves around 5:30pm to go to the barn and gets home at about 9pm. She tries to take dressage lessons in the evenings with Jane Arrasmith Duggan, and come rain or shine, she rides five days a week.

That all paid off in spades when she and Newmarket Jack, who she’s produced from a fairly feral five-year-old, won the Galway Downs CCI4*-L in November, a victory that saw them finish on their dressage score of 37 and put them on the shortlist for the 2022 Eventing Development Program. They followed that win with another at the same venue, this time in the CCI4*-S this month, despite running slowly to best prepare for their Kentucky debut.

Like many West Coast eventers, Alex had to get creative with her Kentucky prep because so many competitions — and barns, including her own — went into lockdown as a result of the EHV-1 outbreak. Because of her residency, she wasn’t able to relocate to ensure she got the runs in, but fortunately, that April Galway fixture went well and worked to give her and Jack what they needed ahead of their big trip.

Alex will have plenty of support on the ground at Kentucky from her wide network of friends and former trainers – while some might view the constant relocation her job has required as a hindrance, she’s certainly used it to her advantage, taking the chance to train with riders such as Phillip Dutton and Daniel Clasing while living on the East Coast, and even doing a stint working and competing in Wellington. She’s not coming to Kentucky to win it, but will be aiming for a sub-40 dressage and an educational clear round across the country –- and her completion will be a poignant victory for all working eventers.

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Buck Davidson and Erroll Gobey. Photo by Abby Powell.

19: Buck Davidson and Erroll Gobey (USA)

Twelve-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cassini II x Ulla II). Owned by Cassie Segal, Lisa Darden, and Natalie Sandler. 

Buck -– who’s the son of eventing legend Bruce Davidson -– is a busy man this week, but that’s the way he likes it: he hasn’t brought fewer than two rides to a U.S. CCI5* in any year since 2013. The withdrawal of Jak My Style, who was to be trailblazer, does give him a little room to at least suss out the rest of the competition, but he still has three horses to pilot around Saturday’s course. We hope he’s made plans to have a large bourbon waiting for him at the finish line once he gets his final ride home.

Erroll Gobey, who was bred in Germany but initially produced in the UK by JP Sheffield, made his five-star debut at Kentucky last spring, though was retired on course after going green at the first water. After that, Buck kept busy putting the wheels back on the bus, and Gobey stepped up, finishing sixth and second in Advanced classes at the Horse Park of New Jersey and Millbrook Horse Trials, respectively. He was on the roster for a second go at Maryland in October, but was withdrawn before running cross-country after Buck took a tumble with his first ride, Carlevo.

His 32 there, though, was a nice starting point that he’ll be hoping to replicate this week, and his one international run since — the CCI4*-S at Stable View this month — saw him finish in the top ten, even with a steady run. This is still an inexperienced horse for his age, thanks in part to the pandemic, and this week’s trip will be a consolidating one rather than a competitive one. This could be set to be the season in which Erroll Gobey steps up from a boy to a man, and this week will be a crucial stepping stone for his exciting future.

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Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

21: Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime (USA)

Seventeen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Aptitude x Czarina Kate, by The Prime Minister). Owned by CML Horses LLC.

This will be a fifth five-star for Leah and her stalwart partner AP Prime, who made their debut here in 2015, though opted to withdraw before cross-country. They’ve got two completions under their belt: a 33rd place finish in 2016 and 34th last year, both of which saw them complete with clear, steady cross-country rounds. They also jumped clear — and very quick — in 2018, though didn’t go on to showjumping.

Leah bought AP Prime as a five-year-old through CANTER Illinois for just $750, and in less than five years, he went to Kentucky for his debut. He’d been relatively unsuccessful on the track, winning $20,000 in 31 starts, but he took to his new role like a duck to water and was out eventing in just six months. Around the same time, Leah had made the big decision to leave her corporate finance job in Washington DC and go pro, and so her journey with the special Thoroughbred has been full of enormous milestones for her as a rider.

Leah describes herself as, “dysfunctionally ambitious” and has been laser focused on a fifth Kentucky appearance. “My singular identity is working towards five-stars,” she said in an emphatic campaign toward fundraising last year’s event.

They won’t fight for the win here this week, but they’ll certainly be hoping to replicate their cross-country run in 2018, where they romped home with just 1.6 time penalties. If they can do that again, plus keep their first-phase score to the high-30s, they could find themselves in the very exciting position of jumping for a place in the top twenty on Sunday. AP doesn’t find this phase the easiest, but he’s actually at his best on the final day of a three-day, and has only had one down in each of his five-star showjumping rounds.

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Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

22: Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope (GREAT BRITAIN)

Fifteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Porter Rhodes x Brown Sue). Owned by the rider.

Pippa has long ridden the reliable Majas Hope for owner Marek Sebestak, but was given ownership of the horse over the off-season, and so comes here in the rare position of being an owner-rider. It’s a financial gamble to do so for any rider, but Majas Hope is, fittingly, what we’d call a banker –- he goes out, puts his head down, and does his job every time, without much pomp or circumstance, but enormously reliably. That quality has led to him being selected for the British team: in 2019, he was the pathfinder at the European Championships and stormed home clear and inside the time, helping the team to gold and taking 22nd individually.

Since then, his weakest phase has taken a major turn for the better. He was a solid mid-30 scorer, but Pippa has put plenty of time and patience into producing more consistent work on the flat — and that, plus a swap to a double bridle, has seen him deliver four sub-30 scores out of his six FEI runs in 2021. His last two, the tough CCI4*-S and the inaugural ‘pop-up’ CCI5* at Bicton, saw him finish in the ribbons, and though Pippa retired him on course in Bicton’s CCI4*-S earlier last year, he looks more than ready to contest his fourth five-star and pay for his American outing.

We’ve not seen Majas Hope in an international this year, but he’s had three good national outings to prepare him for Kentucky, which will be the second Grand Slam leg for 2019 Burghley winner Pippa to chase down. He finished tenth in an OI at Poplar Park after a steady run, second in the AI at Great Witchingham on a quicker time, and twelfth in the star-studded Advanced at Thoresby Park. Pippa will be aiming to start the week sub-30, which will put her close enough to the top that if she hunts him round on Saturday, she can gain some ground. A tough course but a catchable time would suit him: he’s very genuine and capable, but not always the fastest horse in the field. A rail isn’t off the cards on Sunday – he’s had one in two of his three five-stars so far, but did showjump clear at Burghley in 2018 for 13th place. Top ten is a fair aim here, but if all goes well, a top five isn’t unrealistic.

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James Alliston & Paper Jam. Photo by Kim Miller.

24: James Alliston and Paper Jam (GBR) – ROOKIE HORSE

Thirteen-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Paparazzo x Reely Jamin XX). Owned by Helen Alliston.

Last year’s Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L winners come forward for what is just the five-star debutant gelding’s ninth FEI event — but though his record may be small, it is fierce. He’s never finished outside the top ten in any of his internationals.

This will be James’s long-awaited return to five-star — we last saw him here in 2017, though he didn’t complete that year with former ride Parker. He’s had eleven trips around the Horse Park prior to that, with his best results coming aboard Parker in 2011 and 2013. Both years, they finished in fourteenth place. Paper Jam’s inexperience may stop him from besting that finish, as he only stepped up to four-star last season, but so far, he’s looking to be a very competitive partner for the West Coast-based Brit, who moved over to work for Bruce Davidson in his gap year. After flitting back and forth between Bruce’s base in Pennsylvania and university in the UK, he finally committed to the American dream full-time when he was offered a training job in California post-graduation.

We’ll be looking at this pair to aim for the mid-30s or below in the first phase: their scores have been constantly improving, and their last three FEI runs have been on scores lower than 35. They’re naturally efficient across the country, too, and Paper Jam hasn’t picked up a cross-country jumping penalty in an international since his first season. They do tend to take a couple of rails, which will likely be expensive in this field, but an educational first outing at the level will be a really exciting stepping stone for this classy gelding.

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Ashlynn Meuchel and Emporium. Photo by Shelby Allen.

25: Ashlynn Meuchel and Emporium (USA)

Thirteen-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Cartano x Upana, by Opan). Owned by the rider.

Ashlynn Meucheul knows how to be a road warrior. After growing up in Kalispell, Montana (home of The Event at Rebecca Farm), Ashlynn graduated from high school early and made her first big move to southern California, where she began riding with Tamie Smith. Tamie would become a big mentor for Ashlynn as she prepared for Young Riders with a horse whom she’d been partnered with thanks to support from her mother, Kelli, as well as Sarah Broussard.

Emporium had made his eventing debut with Tamie originally as a five-year-old. Despite some quirks, Ashlynn struck up a partnership with “Theo”, who she describes as very careful and quite a character on the ground (and under saddle). From California, Ashlynn would next move to Florida, where she currently bases her business. Having just moved Emporium up to the Advanced level in 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of the world, Ashlynn elected to aim for what was both horse and rider’s CCI5* debut at Maryland. They ultimately finished 33rd there after picking up 40 jumping penalties and 49.6 time across the country –- but along the way, they also picked up plenty of experience and education, which they’ll be putting to the test this week.

They’ve had one international run since then, picking up a top twenty placing in the CCI4*-S at Red Hills in March, where they ran slowly and steadily, but their two national-level runs have looked on good form, too: they were sixth in their final prep run in the AI at Ocala, where they ran quickly and put a very good 31.6 on the board, and they started their year with a top ten finish in an OI at Rocking Horse. They look set to replicate the low-30s mark they started with at Maryland and this time, we’ll be looking for them to nail down their first clear at the top level in what will be just their 16th FEI start.

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Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by AK Dragoo Photography.

26: Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights (USA)

Sixteen-year-old Thoroughbred-cross gelding (Black Fox Farm Incognito x Let’s Get It Right). Owned by FSG, Inc. and the rider.

This weekend will mark the 48th FEI start for Colleen Rutlege and ‘CR’, as he’s known at home. This is a particularly special partner for Colleen, who actually bred Covert Rights and also has gone on to breed three half siblings by the same sire. Covert Rights’ dam, Let’s Get It Right, was Colleen’s first Advanced partner. She paired the Thoroughbred mare with the Clydesdale-Thoroughbred stallion BFF Incognito, who had competed through the Preliminary level himself. This gelding was actually the only of Let’s Get It Right’s offspring to make it past his fifth year, making him all the more special as the memory of his mother lives on through him.

Eventing is an all-out family affair for the Rutledge family, as Colleen’s daughters, Cassie and CIana, also event – in fact, Cassie is currently competing Covert Rights’ half-brother, Sherlock, at the Novice level. You’re also almost sure to see Colleen’s husband, Brian, at every event he can make it to, and he’s always got a warm smile and a joke coming your way if you happen to run into him.

CR is “definitely a character”, Colleen told The Chronicle of the Horse last year, noting that he has a propensity for nibbling on zippers or headphone cords. But in general, he’s laidback to be around and a worker bee under saddle. Look for this pair to put in a workmanlike test –- and they’re capable of putting in a solidly competitive score, and routinely dip sub-30 at four-star –- and then watch for them to leave the start box full of determination. Their Maryland five-star run didn’t go to plan, and they were eliminated for a rider fall early on in the course, so Colleen will be doubly focused on the finish line this year in their first Kentucky since 2018. They’ve been competitive here in the past, finishing 11th in 2015, and they’ve jumped clear around Burghley, too, but their last couple of outings at the level have been fraught with frustration.

They won’t be the very fastest in the field, but if they can make the clear happen, they’ll climb into a competitive position. Then, they’ll have to dig deep to try to get the clear done on Sunday — they’re prone to a couple of rails.

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Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara. Photo by Lisa Madren.

28: Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara (USA)

Sixteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Aldatus Z x Puissance Flight). Owned by the rider.

27-year-old Zoe, who got her formative education through Massachusetts’s Norfolk Hunt Pony Club, comes forward for her third CCI5* after making her debut with K.E.C. Zara at Kentucky last spring. That was an educational, rather than a competitive, run for the pair, who took a tumble in the latter part of the course, and their steady clear at Maryland five-star in October proved that they’d learned a lot from it. They finished 29th there after adding 22 time penalties to their 43.5 dressage.

The goal this week is another, slightly faster completion, which will give them even more of an education for the future. A score around the 40 cusp won’t trouble the leaders, but they’re capable of two solid jumping phases and should produce a result they can be proud of. They’re not among the quickest pairs across the country, but proved in Tryon’s CCI4*-L in 2020 that they can catch the time when the conditions are right. They’re prone to a couple of rails, but did jump a classy clear on the Sunday of Maryland.

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Hallie Coon and Global Ex. Photo by Shelby Allen.

29: Hallie Coon and Global Ex (USA) – ROOKIE HORSE

Thirteen-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Contador x Wesely Wonderfly). Owned by the rider.

Three and a half years after making her five-star debut at Pau with former top ride Celien, Ocala-based Hallie returns to the top with another mare –- this time, the petite powerhouse Global Ex, who she bought from Katherine Coleman at the very end of 2020. They got to know one another over a couple of weeks at Portugal’s Barocca d’Alva that November, and when the new year dawned, Hallie promptly stepped the little mare up to four-star. Since then, she’s been getting better and better: she was ninth in just her second ever CCI4*-S, the very tough one here last year, and she finished in the top ten in the CCI4*-S at Unionville, too. Her CCI4*-L debut came at Jersey Fresh in May, less than two months into her four-star career, and she jumped around clear for a top twenty placing. At the tail end of 2021 the pair were selected to represent the U.S. as individuals at the CCIO4*-L at Boekelo, where they were the only pair to finish on their dressage score, taking seventh place.

This year, all eyes are on a bid for a spot at Pratoni — but first of all, they’ve got a point to prove here. Hallie’s had one previous start in the CCI5* at Kentucky — she came here with Celien in 2019 but retired the mare on course. In ‘Dolly’, she has a much more out-and-out running-and-jumping machine, and they’re a joy to watch over the biggest tracks. A tricky outing at Bouckaert International nearly derailed their plans, because the feisty mare was a bit too hot to handle on course, but a quick reroute and a change of bitting has her back at her best.

A mid-30s score is the likeliest starting point for Dolly, though she’s dipped into the low 30s at four-star, and recent help from British dressage supremo Ian Woodhead has got them on an exciting trajectory. It’ll be Saturday where we really see this determined, dynamic duo at their very best, especially if the track is tough and the conditions are difficult. They’ve got a touch of Jonelle and Classic Moet about them, and they really excel on the days where the wilting flowers struggle. Hallie’s riding high on a great season so far, particularly with new ride Cute Girl, and that quiet determination and confidence stand her in good stead. They could well be looking at a top fifteen finish or better.

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Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

30: Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle (USA)

Twelve-year-old German Warmblood gelding (Leo von Faelz x Berina A). Owned by Tim and Nina Gardner.

Originally sourced and produced to CCI2*-S by Clayton Fredericks, FE Lifestyle has been an exciting part of the string owned by Jennie’s longtime supporters, Tim and Nina Gardner. Since she took the reins in 2017, he’s racked up ten top-ten finishes in an international (one of those with Lynn Symansky deputising), and jumped a reasonably quick clear around his five-star debut at Kentucky last year, Jennie’s first trip to the event in six years. ‘Foxy’ has also travelled abroad to represent the US, jumping brilliantly around Boekelo CCIO4*-L last year for fifteenth place.

Foxy is a ginger through and through: he can only be turned out with mares – he’s not a fan of other geldings at all, whether that’s in the field or the trailer, and he’s sensitive in his skin, with allergies, and under saddle, previously dumping Jennie in the show jumping warm-up as he spooked at a shadow, but Jennie has found what works best for him. Part of the tactics include riding without spurs a lot of the time, which is unusual at this level, and Jennie has also cultivated careful warm-up regimes that suit the gelding and his quirks perfectly. At home, you can often find him out hacking with Jennie’s yard mascot, miniature horse Hank, and at events, you’ll see him come into his own across the country.

His first-phase scores can fluctuate, but even with a tricky warm-up at Boekelo, he pulled a super performance out at Boekelo for a 32.1, and considering he earned a 34.8 here last year, he can definitely aim to knock a couple of penalties off this time. He’s excellent on cross-country, and has only ever had one blip at four-star, which came in 2019. His confident capability and natural speed will help him do some climbing after the first phase, and though he’ll probably pull a rail on Sunday, he’s certainly capable of moving into the top twenty or better this time. Jennie, for her part, will still be riding high after finishing fourth in the CCI5* at Maryland in October, and that kind of self-belief can be enormously powerful.

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Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me. Photo by Shelby Allen.

31: Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me (CANADA)

Sixteen-year-old Welsh Cob cross gelding (Brenarian Brenin x Dream Contessa, by Royal Chocolate). Owned by the rider.

Lisa and her beloved cob cross form part of the charge for the small but formidable Canadian effort at Maryland in what will be their seventh CCI5* start (or eighth, if you count the 2018 World Equestrian Games).

They’ve become a real mainstay at the Kentucky Horse Park since their top-level debut back in 2016. That year, he completed with an educational 20 penalties and ever since then, he’s sailed around clear and in fine style. Their best result was 18th place in 2017. It’s absolutely impossible not to notice how much fun this duo have together out on course, and their joy is contagious, making them a real fan-favorite pairing. Their partnership is bolstered by the fact that Lisa had to rehab ‘Tali’ extensively as a young horse because he had such significant bone chips, so they’ve really put in the miles together.

Though they’re a very consistent duo, they didn’t have an ideal week in Maryland’s five-star last autumn, and opted to withdraw after picking up 40 penalties across the country. They had also had a 20 in their prep run at Unionville CCI4*-S, though, and this year’s prep has gone considerably better, with a steady clear for a top twenty in the CCI4*-S at Tryon this month. Their mission this week will be to ensure the cross-country — their biggest strength — comes back together; in this company, their high-30s dressage and two rails will likely keep them out of the top twenty unless there’s a significant rate of attrition on Saturday. In that case, if Tali is back to his confident best, they could storm their way to rivalling their personal best finish here.

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Joseph Murphy and Calmaro. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

32: Joseph Murphy and Calmaro (IRELAND)

Eleven-year-old Brandenburg gelding (Carpalano x unknown dam). Owned by Claire and Charlie Mayne, Annette O’Callaghan, and the rider.

Calmaro is a relatively new ride for Joseph, who took the reins in mid-2020 from former rider Laura Collett. It’s been something of a fairytale ending so far: Laura, who produced the horse all the way to the Seven-Year-Old World Championships with some excellent results along the way, intended for the gelding to be sold as a Young Riders’ prospect, but he and Joseph have ended up so well-suited to one another that he’s made it to the top level. It was particularly sweet to see Laura, who previously part-owned Calmaro, at the in-gate at Pau last year watching the pair jump their way to the top fifteen, after having helped them prepare for the round.

In fact, we haven’t yet seen Joseph and Calmaro finish outside the top twenty in an international, and their eight FEI runs together have yielded four top-ten finishes — including a win, which they picked up in the CCI4*-S at Kilguilkey in July last season. Their impressive showings have included a good run at Aachen for 17th place, fourth place in the CCI4*-L at Millstreet, and a top twenty finish in the 106-strong CCI4*-S at Thoresby this month, where they added just a scant 2.4 time penalties across the country to their 32.1 dressage.

Their low-to-mid-30s first-phase mark will keep them out of the hunt before the weekend there, though they’ll be laughing if they can replicate the 31.5 they earned at Pau, which would be a super point to climb from. That climb is something you can almost count on – Joseph is particularly adept at making his way up the leaderboard, and has  thrice won the Glentrool Trophy for the biggest climb after dressage at Badminton. In the smaller Kentucky field, the same starting score will give them a much smaller margin to make up, and we could see them make a very competitive effort. Calmaro might still be inexperienced but he’s game, catty, and quick, and though he’ll probably have a rail on Sunday, he can be expected to make some major gains through the weekend.

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Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

33: Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg (USA)

Fifteen-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall II x Thabana). Owned by Christine, Thomas, and Tommie Turner.

The 2019 second-place finishers – and USEF National Champions – are among the highest hopes for a home-nation win, particularly as Boyd, with the sadly withdrawn On Cue, comes into this event as the sport’s reigning five-star champion after winning Maryland last autumn. But if you were to meet Tsetserleg at home, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t instantly recognize him as champion material.

“He can be a mediocre performer at the barn, but he loves his job and turns it on at shows,” says ‘Thomas’s’ owner, Christine. “He would do anything for his rider — if he likes them — and he loves Boyd.”

The ‘funny little character’ is a consummate showman, and while he tends to economise in his performances in training, he knows exactly when he needs to rise to the occasion – and that’s when his adoring fans are watching. This will be a fourth trip to Kentucky for Thomas, who finished 11th in his debut in 2018 before returning as runner-up in his sophomore attempt, after which they won double gold at the Pan-Ams in Lima. They returned to Kentucky last year and looked on super form until a very late crashing fall on course brought their weekend to an early end, but fared much better at the Tokyo Olympics, finishing 20th individually. This year, they’ve got one international run under their belt: they ran in the CCI4*-S at Tryon, finishing fourth.

They’re mid-to-high 20s scorers generally, and will be hoping to replicate the 25.4 they earned here last year — though not the trip across the country that followed. On their day, they’re very efficient, and it’s rare for them to pick up jumping penalties on cross country. A rail on Sunday is a little more likely, and could be the deciding factor if we see a tightly-packed bunch at the top end of the leaderboard come Sunday. A top five finish feels almost certain, though.

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Buck Davidson and Sorocaima. Photo by JJ Sillman.

35: Buck Davidson and Sorocaima (USA) – ROOKIE HORSE

Eleven-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Rock Hard Ten x Sankobasi). Owned by the rider.

This will be just an eleventh FEI start for Buck’s young Thoroughbred, who was entered at Maryland last year but didn’t make the cut of Buck’s characteristic line-up of rides. He makes his five-star debut as the second of his rides to leave the start box, and comes in off the back of a nice prep run in the Stable View CCI4*-S, where he finished ninth. That follows on from a third place finish in the CCI4*-L at Morven Park in October, where he finished off his year.

‘Cam’, who was initially piloted by a student of Jill Henneberg’s, wasn’t exactly an auspicious racehorse in his brief career. His debut came at Gulfstream in December of 2013, and he went out of the start box with seriously unfavourable odds of 147-1. He finished last, losing by nearly fifty lengths. Through his seventeen runs he did manage a couple of seconds and a couple of thirds, but it was patently clear he wasn’t cut out for track life — or at least, Florida’s dirt tracks weren’t right for him. When Pennsylvania-based trainer Teresa Connelly took him up north to give him a chance on synthetic tracks he flourished, notching up four wins, five second place finishes, three fourths, and a sixth in claimers at Presque Isle Downs. At the end of 2015, he retired and swiftly embarked upon his second career, first with Matthew Bryner via CANTER, then Brazil’s Nilson Moreira da Silva, then with young rider Karli Wright at Jill Henneberg’s stable.

Cam is a consummate trier and a real cool character, who was renowned in his racing stable for bobbing his head along to music on the radio. This isn’t his week to win a big one, but he’s never yet faulted at an international and should nail a great completion with a high-30s dressage, a swift cross-country round, and a rail or two on Sunday, though this phase is constantly improving for him.

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Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

36: Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH (GERMANY) 

Fourteen-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I x Havanna). Owned by Sabine and Klaus Fischer, Hilmer Meyer-Kulenkampff and the DOKR.

It’s a little hard to focus on anyone in the field, isn’t it, when Michi and his wunderkind Chippi are on the roster. The pair come to Kentucky, which is Michi’s favourite event, for a technical five-star debut, though Chip did go to the 2018 WEG with former rider Julia Krajewski, so it’s not really a debut at the level. Michi took the ride shortly after and began campaigning the gelding in early 2019, finishing the year with a European silver medal, a second place finish at Aachen, further seconds at Marbach CCI4*-S and Baborowko CCI4*-L, and a win in the CCIO4*-S at Strzegom. In 2020 they had another win in the same class, and one at Avenches CCI4*-S, and in 2021, they won four of their five international starts. The one they didn’t? The Tokyo Olympics – where they would have taken gold but for a MIM clipped corner, which activated and fell several strides after Michi and Chip had landed. They ultimately finished eighth, which is of course very good, but for the man who’s won every medal there is to be won, it must have stung. In a classic case of pulp fiction plot line writing, they lost out on that gold to… Chip’s former rider, Julia Krajewski.

If betting existed in our sport, this pair would almost certainly be the odds-on favorites to take the win: they come here off the back of another win, in the CCI4*-S at Kronenburg, and they’ve dipped sub-20 in the first phase several times. They’re quick and very reliable across the country, and even Chip’s historic weak phase, the showjumping, has improved no end — they haven’t had a rail in an international in a year, even over the very tough course at Tokyo. This will be a 49th FEI run for the gelding, and he’s got 40 top-ten international finishes to his name. He’s almost guaranteed to take a podium placing, unless something goes startlingly wrong – but there are a couple of horses in this field who are prepared to take him on.

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Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot. Photo by Shelby Allen.

37: Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot (USA)

Nineteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cruising x Shannon). Owned by Jacqueline Mars.

There’s a handful of real ‘warhorses’ in this year’s field, and Hannah Sue Burnett’s consummate gentleman, who’s named William after his breeder, the renowned Irish horseman William Micklem, is leading the charge for the good old boys (and girls!) as one of two nineteen-year-olds entered. This will be an incredible eleventh CCI5* for the much-loved little gelding, whose career highlights have included an eight- place finish at Luhmühlen CCI5* in 2018, as well as eleventh place at Kentucky in 2019 and fifteenth there in 2014 and 2016.

William is one of those horses whose career has been hit hardest by the pandemic: in the twilight of his career, and just at the moment he’s been poised to produce some of his best results, widespread cancellations have cost him and Hannah Sue so much valuable time together. They’ll be hoping to regroup after a disappointing Kentucky this spring, where they picked up a technical elimination for missing a fence, and a frustrating Maryland run where they picked up a 20. On their day, they’re a formidable force to be reckoned with for the U.S. side: though they average around the 30 mark in dressage, we’ll likely see them score in the 20s, and they’re very capable of a pretty quick clear across the country. Showjumping will take a bit of luck – they frequently deliver clears, but they also frequently take several poles. At this stage of the game, it’s likely that Hannah wants to give her longtime partner a classy clear across the country as a final hurrah for what has been a storied, special career. A top ten finish feels unlikely on recent form, but isn’t wholly out of the question – and it would make for a perfect way to bow out from the top.

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Jonelle Price and McClaren. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

38: Jonelle Price and McClaren (NEW ZEALAND)

Fifteen-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Clarimo x Toni 1). Owned by Katherine and David Thomson.

Teeny-weeny 15.3hh McClaren is so pocket-sized that even petite Jonelle looks tall on him, and so it’s hard to imagine that he was ever the partner of leggy Mark Todd. But he was, and even back in those formative days of his career, he was impressive – he was selected to represent the Kiwis under Toddy at the WEG in 2018, and though it didn’t go quite to plan, it was a valuable glimpse at the scope and power he was, and is, in possession of.

He’s not necessarily a straightforward ride, though, and Jonelle has patiently produced him over the past few years to coax him into using his powers for good, not evil. He truly came into his own at the end of last season, when he finished third at Pau CCI5* just weeks after a belligerent drive-by on cross-country at Aachen. The breakdown of his Pau performance is very, very impressive: he posted a 24.4 in dressage, which was a significant personal best, and followed it up with a mature, professional clear round with 4.4 time penalties. On Sunday, he jumped clear, adding 0.8 time penalties. It was by far a career landmark moment for a horse who either jacks it in in a naughty moment on cross-country or finishes in the top 10, with very little in-between.

Jonelle is about as level-headed and pragmatic as riders come, and there’s no chance she’d have put him on a plane if she didn’t think he was ready to deliver the same kind of performance again this week. And if he does? He could better his result at Pau. No doubt he and his plane pals Corouet and Banzai du Loir have been chatting about which spots each of them would like to occupy on the podium.

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Lauren Nicolson and Landmark’s Monte Carlo. Photo by Sally Spickard.

39: Lauren Nicholson and Landmark’s Monte Carlo (USA)

Sixteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Formula One x Glamour). Owned by Jacqueline Mars.

“Patrick” made his eventing debut with Hannah Sue Burnett before transferring to Lauren’s program in 2011 as a Novice horse. In the intervening years, Lauren has put her stamp on the gelding, tactfully moving him through the levels before finding herself up against a roadblock in the show jumping phase as he got to the upper levels. After he began accumulating a higher number of rails in the show jumping than was characteristic, Lauren wanted to find something to give the gelding an injection of confidence — and that’s when Cathy Wieschoff recommended she try bringing in an animal communicator. Believe it or not, the tips provided by the animal communicator — which centered around positive encouragement and taking the pressure off — helped Lauren turn a corner. He still has a pole down here and there, but the nerves seem to have been soothed.

This will be a fifth CCI5* start for the striking grey gelding, who has twice been a top twenty finisher at Kentucky and finished sixth at Maryland in October. He’s got masses of experience and a penchant for going fast and clear across the country. Expect a good dressage around the 30 mark or just below, and likely a quick round on Saturday – he was one of eleven to finish inside the time at Maryland, though we expect (and hope!) the time will be a little tighter here this week. He had a rail there, and will probably have one here, but his form is looking great: he comes forward off the back of a win in the CCI4*-S at Red Hills. If they can reproduce their 28.5 from Maryland and go clear inside the time again — something they’ve come within two seconds of doing here before — they’ll afford themselves a bit of a buffer to have that rail and still go for the top ten.

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Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

40: Will Coleman and Off The Record (USA)

Thirteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay). Owned by the Off The Record Syndicate.

Will and ‘Timmy’ gave U.S. eventing an enormous boost last September when they handily won the CCIO4*-S at Aachen in Germany, arguably the sport’s most prestigious competition at the level. That win felt well-deserved and a long time coming, because the gelding had previously come so close to winning other major events, such as Tattersalls CCI4*-L, which he lost in the final phase. He’s not a bad show jumper by any stretch of the imagination — statistically, he’s got a 50/50 chance of having a single rail or going clear, but he’s just been a little bit unlucky a few times. Aachen certainly felt like a turning point, and Will has continued that great form with a third place finish in the CCI4*-S at Tryon this month. He’s now on 20 top-fifteen finishes from 25 international starts, and 17 of those are top tens.

“There are a lot of days when you get on him and it feels like you’re riding a kitchen table,” Will told us last year. “But he’s a kitchen table with a couple of Ferrari engines attached to it — he’s not the easiest to steer, or the most pleasant to ride sometimes, but the effort is really what makes him special. It took me a long time to figure that out, actually — that he was trying very, very hard, even when we were struggling to communicate with one another. I think what’s helped him turn a corner is me just getting that and figuring out how to help him instead of asking why he’s not doing what I want. So we have a good relationship; he’s just got a lot of energy, and he’s like a kid who needs Ritalin. When his energy gets up, he can be a lot to handle, but it’s not malicious; he just gets high strung and his effort comes out in ways that aren’t that attractive. It’s just making him relaxed and helping him feel like it’s as easy as possible.”

This will be a second run at five-star for the gelding, who made his Kentucky debut last year and walked away with a very respectable fifteenth place. His sub-30 score, quick clear across the country, and that 50/50 rail should see him replicate or better that this year, and Will will be hunting down a shot at his best-ever finish at the level. This’ll be his 20th five-star, and his three best results — fifth at Maryland last year with Tight Lines, and fifth at Kentucky in 2012 and fifth at Luhmühlen in 2009 with Twizzel — are begging to be topped.

“You’ve got to keep knocking on the doors,” Will said to us sagely after that Aachen win. “Eventually, one of them’s got to open.”

In case you were dying of curiosity, here’s Off The Record’s namesake song:

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Bobby Meyerhoff and Fortuna. Photo by JJ Sillman.

41: Bobby Meyerhoff and Fortuna (USA) – ROOKIE HORSE

Twelve-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Balout du Rouet Z x Nova). Owned by the rider.

Fortuna is one of the smallest horses in the field – at 15.2hh, she and Sarah Bullimore’s Corouet can shoot one another dirty looks directly in the eyes. Consider it sibling rivalry: both are by the stallion Balou du Rouet.

But you should never, ever disregard a dinky mare, because so often, they’re made of pretty fiery stuff, and Fortuna is no exception. She first came to Bobby’s yard as a two-year-old, and though she’s never been a particularly straightforward horse, Bobby immediately spotted something special in her.

“It’s been a lot of slow and steady like a turtle,” Bobby explained to EN. “I just have to keep telling her the same things: everything is ok, work your body side to side and let go, trust me. I’ve come to realize that she can be a little insecure — she has all this bravado and attitude, but underneath it she’s got some insecurities.”

Fortuna can be an extravagant sort of mare, particularly when faced with something she’s unsure about. She’s bold and incredibly genuine, so she’d rarely choose to evade the effort, but she often chooses to jump higher, which can pose a few problems: in a combination, it can sometimes mean she doesn’t give herself a way to get to the next fence, and it also makes it harder for her to catch the time. That can be seen a few times on her record at four-star, particularly last year – she stepped up to four-star well in 2019 and then sat out 2020, but on her return to competing, she had three frustrating results in a row in internationals, culminating in a horse fall at Carolina CCI4*-S last March. Bobby took his time, worked on rebuilding her confidence, and by August, she was running well at three-star. When she stepped back up to four-star at the Fork in November, she looked better than ever and took a classy fifth-place finish. Bobby opted to start her 2022 season with an easy, confidence-boosting run in a CCI3*-S at Carolina, and she came out well for a top twenty spot.

This week will be all about building on that confidence and bolstering the partnership Bobby and his little mare have been working on. Their high-30s score will put them on the back foot going into the weekend, but that’ll take all the pressure of trying to be competitive off of them, and they’ll be able to focus on one fence at a time, one stride at a time. A good experience here will set them up to come back and take calculated, competitive risks in the years to come, because Fortuna always remembers a good experience.

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Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent. Photo by Abby Powell.

42: Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent (USA)

Sixteen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Quiet American x Edey’s Village). Owned by William Duhring and the rider.

It was a circuitous journey that brought Palm Crescent to Virginia-based Pony Club alum Meghan O’Donoghue, who became a fan favorite when she debuted her mighty off-the-track Thoroughbred, Pirate. After a three-year racing career during which he raced 12 times, “Palmer” was placed with CANTER MidAtlantic, and after transitioning from track life under the watchful eye of Allie Conrad, the bright bay gelding eventually was purchased by and started his eventing career with Jan Byyny. He was later purchased by the Shipka family, who would go on to own the horse as a ride for Meghan as he showed his prowess at the upper levels. Meghan has since taken on ownership, but she’s always quick to reflect back on all of the wonderful people who helped her find this next shining star.

Palmer made his Kentucky debut last year, finishing 23rd, and they cracked the top twenty for 17th place on their sophomore run at Maryland in October. They’re low-to-mid 30s scores – their Kentucky test earned them a 32.8, while Maryland saw them score a 35.8 – and their talent lies in the climb. Though Palmer’s speed average is brought down by his slower runs at short-format internationals, he’s actually among the quickest in the field at the long format, where he’s able to settle into a high-octane cruising speed and eat up big, long, tough tracks. But like many classic, golden-era-style event horses, he doesn’t always have the easiest time on the final day, and is prone to a rail or two. He’s not yet gone clear in the showjumping at this level, but if he can this week, we could see them make a bold bid for the top fifteen.

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Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

43: Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise (USA)

Fourteen-year-old American Warmblood mare (Duty Officer x Coco Chanel). Owned by Shannon and Daniel Barr and the rider.

When she was just 13, Fylicia spotted a Craigslist ad for ‘Sunny’. A $500 Warmblood yearling who wasn’t even halter-broke was far from a prospective upper-level horse at the time. But Fylicia and her mother liked finding diamonds in the rough, so they took their chances on Sunny. Throughout their partnership, the two have overcome multiple obstacles – like stall rest for a year and a half because of a pasture accident – to get to where they are today. After a lot of determination and effort on both ends, Fylicia and Sunny have blossomed into a competitive duo, and this will be their third outing at five-star. Last year, they made their debut at Kentucky, jumping a steady clear across the country for eventual 38th place, and though their Maryland outing ended early with a rider fall on Saturday, they learned a huge amount through their 2021 season and will have spent the winter consolidating it into practical action.

They’ve scored a 32.4 and 31.7 at this level, and though they proved last year that they can go sub-30 at four-star, it’s reasonable to expect them to stay just the other side of that barrier here. They’re a naturally efficient duo, and with foundations at five-star now, we’ll be looking for them to cut back on the 22.8 time penalties they wisely collected here last year and take some calculated risks to try to catch the time. If they can come home with just a small handful of time penalties, that’ll give them a bit of breathing room come Sunday, where they’ll face their toughest challenge: they had four rails at Kentucky last year, and are just about guaranteed at least one. If they can keep the rails to a minimum, we could see them realistically try for the top 25.

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Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit. Photo by Shelby Allen.

44: Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit (CANADA) – ROOKIE HORSE

Eleven-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Line of Departure x No Kissing, by Great Gladiator). Owned by Jim Phillips and the rider.

Look, every time I try to write about or refer to this pair in any way, my brain smooshes them together into one sexy, speech-impedimented cartoon called Jessica Wabbit, and I’m hoping if I hold my hands up now and admit it it’ll all go away. Canadian Olympian Jessie and her gorgeous off-the-track Thoroughbred — one of two she’s piloting this year — deserve better than that.

Last year, Jessie became the first Canadian eventer ever to compete at over 100 CCI4*-S events, which should give some idea of how much of a stalwart character she is on the circuit. With her longtime partner Pavarotti, she earned five Pan-American medals, competed at two WEGs, and came to Kentucky four times — though he only ran cross-country once, finishing 17th when he did so back in 2017.

Last year, Wabbit came here as a very inexperienced four-star horse and tackled the tough CCI4*-S in seriously tricky conditions, adding just time penalties to finish tenth overall in the class. This year, he returns stronger — both mentally and physically — and with plenty more experience, including an eighth place finish in the CCI4*-L at Morven Park. He’s getting quicker and quicker, and his first-phase scores have dropped down to the high 30s, but he does still struggle over the poles, and we’ll likely see him pull a couple on Sunday. But his main aim for this week isn’t to win — it’s to learn, and to grow as a competitor as Jessie looks ahead to more shots at representing Canada on the world stage.

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Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. Photo by Shelby Allen.[/caption]

45: Doug Payne and Quantum Leap (USA)

Eleven-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy). Owned by Jessica Payne and the rider.

Doug and his wife and fellow CCI5* rider Jessica began buying young horses early on, both out of financial savviness and also a belief that partnering with a horse from its earlier days is a key to future success. Quantum Leap was one such youngster, purchased from breeder Elizabeth Callahan as a weanling. Now eleven, “baby” Quantum has really grown into himself as he’s moved into the Advanced levels of the sport. He finished his first CCI5* at Kentucky last spring, and while an otherwise strong showing was marred by one mistake on cross country, this wouldn’t be a horse you’d peg to have issues on the second day. They proved that point when returning to the level at Maryland and finishing ninth with a swift, classy cross-country round that added just 2.8 time penalties.

There’s no reason they can’t replicate that round here, though they’ll be keenly aware that they’ll need to keep the first-phase score down to stand a chance of another placing in this larger field. At Maryland they posted a 33.6, which was slightly higher than their form predicted, but since then, they’ve scored a 38 and a 42 in internationals. Doug will be hoping for smoother sailing — and some Friday afternoon generosity — to put him back in the low 30s and give him a nice platform to try to climb from. Sunday shouldn’t pose too much stress for them — Doug has plenty of mileage in the jumper ring, which translates to great foundations and performances for his horses, and Quantum is no exception. He’s jumped clear on the final day in both his five-stars.

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Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z. Photo by William Carey.

46: Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z (USA) – ROOKIE PAIR

Twelve-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Chico’s Boy x Chardonnay Z). Owned by the rider.

Lexi and ‘Sprout’ finally get to make their long-awaited debut after a couple of false starts: she’d originally planned for a trip to Pau in 2020, then rerouted to Kentucky 2021 as a result of the pandemic, and finally to Maryland in October, but some issues with their prep and an ill-timed abscess for the gelding meant that it wasn’t to be. But Lexi’s an eternal optimist, and pragmatic, too, and she believes that everything happens for a reason — and this time, as she makes the trip to Kentucky for real, it’s with a horse who has physically and mentally matured as a result of all the extra time spent building up to it.

Lexi has certainly spent the last few years prioritising his education, and her own, too. She relocated to England in 2019, basing herself with the ultimate professor, William Fox-Pitt, who imparted his slow-and-steady-wins-the-race philosophy unto her and helped her learn to trust her gut in the training process. As a result, she and Sprout picked up a top twenty at Bramham that year over a tough CCI4*-S track, jumped clear around four-star courses at Burgham, Burnham Market, and Chatsworth, and racked up some educational milage at Blenheim and Hartpury, too, before Lexi moved back to Florida to set her own business up. She and Sprout started their 2022 season with an eighth place finish in the CCI4*-S at Red Hills, and though their next run in the CCI4*-S at Stable View didn’t go quite to plan, she’s got plenty of support around her to help her itemise what she needs to fine-tune this week and shut out any unnecessary worries. They’ll be aiming for a confidence-giving clear that they can use as a foundation for more competitive runs in the years to come. 

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Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

49: Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir (GREAT BRITAIN) – ROOKIE HORSE

Eleven-year-old Selle Français gelding (Nouma d’Auzay x Gerboise du Cochet). Owned by Jeanette Chinn and Sue Davies.

25-year-old Yaz is one of Britain’s brightest talents, and not even in a ‘maybe in a decade she’ll be able to take over from the likes of Oliver and Piggy’ sort of way. Her results are so strong that if she represented any other country, you’d almost certainly have seen her at a major championship last year, and this Kentucky trip will absolutely be part of a bid for a spot on the team at Pratoni this year. She’s won every national age title all the way through from her days on ponies (and she was Pony European Champion, too!), and with the exceptional French gelding Banzai, she’s also nabbed the national CCI4*-S title for eight- and nine-year-olds, following it up with a win at Blenheim CCI4*-L last season. In fact, in their last five international runs, they haven’t finished outside the top five — and that includes a run in the achingly tough, very-nearly-five-star CCI4*-L at Bicton in June and fourth in the 100+ strong CCI4*-S at Thoresby this month.

This will be a first five-star for Banzai, though not for Yaz, who made her debut at Pau in 2018, finishing in the top twenty with her self-produced Night Line. She’s since returned to the French fixture with another ride, Rehy DJ, who had an educational run in 2020. This will be her first really competitive bid at the level, though, and she comes forward with a very good chance of running away with the title – a result that would be a real fairytale for the young rider from the Isle of Man, who has been so generously supported by owners Jeanette and Sue over the years. Banzai is excellent on the flat and a consistent 25-27 scorer with good changes, so expect him to be well in the hunt from the first phase. Across the country he’s a real natural and finds it easy enough to go quickly, though Yaz is pragmatic and sympathetic and will give him a long route if he needs it. He was bought with a specific goal in mind — Paris in 2024 — and so this is all part of his education along the way. On Sunday, though, assuming all goes well they’ll pose a serious threat: they’re excellent over the poles and have had just one rail at four-star. A top five finish is not at all unreasonable to expect, and few would be surprised if she went for it and took the win.

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Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

50: Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire (USA)

Twelve-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Diarado x Lantana). Owned by Carol and Arden Stephens. 

Sydney and her rangy gelding return to Kentucky after a whirlwind year that’s seen them hit some of Europe’s hottest spots. They debuted here last year, taking nineteenth place, and after a well-earned holiday they got straight on a plane to Germany, where they competed as part of the U.S. team at Aachen. They finished 26th there after a tricky dressage earned them an uncharacteristic 39.4, but by their next appearance, in the CCIO4*-L at Boekelo, they’d put all the wheels back on the bus and added a few new ones for extra measure, too. Their 26.7 there put them in a very competitive position, and after delivering a clear inside the time across the country and tipping one rail on Sunday, they became the best-placed Americans in an impressive fifth place.

Sydney certainly made the most of her time in Europe, basing herself with Belgian Olympian Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and her husband, German eventer and Belgian team coach Kai-Steffen Meier at Arville Castle. She logged up further international mileage of her own with up-and-comer Commando d’Osthuy, who tackled three-star and four-stars at Ligniéres in France and Strzegom in Poland, and this year, she and QC Diamantaire have come out looking self-assured and ready to take on the world. Their prep runs at Carolina and Tryon CCI4*-S looked workmanlike: they were quick for fourth in the former and steadier for 15th in the latter, where their dressage also bubbled over into the mid-30s again. But Sydney’s done this one before, and the sunny, funny, and determined rider is no doubt heading to the Bluegrass State with a wry grin, thinking to herself, ‘okay, try me – let’s make this another Boekelo.’ If they deliver those performances again, we’re looking at a fight for a top ten finish here. The only thing that could stand in their way? That pesky final phase. They’re just about guaranteed a rail, which could prove costly if we see a tightly-packed field heading into Sunday’s competition.

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Marc Grandia and Campari FFF. Photo by Hope Carlin.

51: Marc Grandia and Campari FFF (USA) – ROOKIE PAIR

Twelve-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Camiros x Tanner, by Ariadus). Owned by Team Rebecca, LLC.

Debutant Marc Grandia has had to deal with two different pandemics on his way to the top level: COVID-19 and its swathe of cancellations gave way to the West Coast’s EHV-1 outbreak, which forced many major spring events in California to close their doors. For the Washington-based professional, who moved all his horses to California over the winter to allow him to train and compete, it was a major blow – but the resourceful rider didn’t let it slow him down. Instead, he loaded up Campari and another of his horses and started trekking east to run at Carolina. They finished twelfth there with their planned slow run, and then loped around the CCI3*-S at Tryon earlier this month, where they had an unfortunate 20. That’s not always a bad thing: a tricky final run can knock the rust off and ensure there’s no complacency on the big day, and Marc will no doubt be resolute about riding each stride, and each fence, as it comes.

“He’s very opinionated, hot, and spooky. We call him a ninja sometimes. He is not malicious by any means but is quirky and really athletic, so you better be on your guard at all times,” laughs Marc in an interview with EN. That spookiness can push their scores up over the mid-30s mark, but on his day, Campari can knock a good few penalties off, and he’s come achingly close to slipping under the 30 barrier at four-star. He’s also a very good show jumper, and though he’s not a super-quick horse, he tends to be at his speediest in a long-format, where he can find his rhythm and settle into it. That’s seen them take fourth at Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L last year — a particularly special competition for the pair, as Rebecca’s owners, the Broussards, own Campari — and we’ve seen them finish on their dressage score for second in the CCI4*-L at Twin Rivers. They won’t be fighting for the win this week, but the experience they gain will be foundational for the future, and will offer another great boon to West Coast eventing.

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Mike Pendleton and Steady Eddie. Photo by Shelby Allen.

52: Mike Pendleton and Steady Eddie (USA)

Nineteen-year-old Australian Thoroughbred gelding (Jetball x Tudnela). Owned by Denise Lahey, Pierre Colin, and Gretchen and George Wintersteen.

Steady Eddie is one of those horses who has lived up to his name time and time again. He’s a true warhorse, racing 36 times in Australia before coming to the U.S. to join Boyd Martin’s program, wherein he went all the way up through the levels with Boyd before Boyd’s longtime assistant rider, Mike Pendleton, took over the reins to gain some experience at the Advanced level. Now, he’s started 40 FEI events, including seven starts at the CCI5* level.

Kentucky last spring was to be the debut Mike Pendleton had been working toward, but a very unlucky fall near the end of the cross country would cost them the completion. Neither Mike nor Steady Eddie were worse for the wear, though, and after couple of easy runs over the summer to ramp back up for another go, they jumped around Maryland five-star for 20 penalties and 31st place. Their goal this week will be to chase down that all-important clear completion, and they’re more than capable of it. Their high-30s dressage, smattering of time, and two or three rails will stop them fighting for a competitive result, but Mike is very aware that his partnership with the stalwart gelding, who’s the eldest horse in this year’s field, is about education, not about glory. Every competition they tackle together adds to Mike’s foundations as a young professional and will help him to be competitive with his next top-level mount.

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Sarah Bullimore and Corouet. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

53: Sarah Bullimore and Corouet (GREAT BRITAIN) – ROOKIE HORSE

Eleven-year-old British-bred Sport Horse gelding (Balou de Rouet x Lilly Corinne). Owned by the Kew Jumping Syndicate.

Dear little ‘Elfie’ is just 15.2hh (and even that might be an optimistic measurement), but he has enough personality to fill the Horse Park. He’s always been a particularly special horse for Sarah and her husband, Brett: they bred him themselves, pairing Sarah’s 2015 European Championships ride Lilly Corinne with the mercurial stallion Balou de Rouet, who’s also the sire of Sarah’s longtime five-star partner Reve du Rouet. Balou babies have the well-earned reputation of being as tricky and sensitive as they are talented, but it would be hard to find a rider more tactful than Sarah, and horses who require enormous tact thrive under her careful production. Reve du Rouet, for his part, has a number of top-five finishes at five-star, including a very near win at Pau in 2017, and will come forward at Badminton next week for an extraordinary eighteenth five-star start.

This week, though, it’s all about this little guy. Like Reve du Rouet, who was 13th here in 2014, he makes his five-star debut at Kentucky — and in doing so, he comes forward as one of the hottest prospects to win the whole thing. He’s certainly the best equipped to deliver a first-phase result that’ll challenge Michael Jung and Chipmunk: he regularly scores in the low 20s and put a decisive 19.6 down in Burgham’s CCI4*-S last season. We’ve seen those scores fluctuate up to the high 20s and even across the 30 mark in the not-too-distant past, but with every outing, the gelding looks physically stronger and also more willing to concede that team work does, in fact, make the dream work.

Speaking of dreams, he certainly made a few come true last season. He and Sarah took the individual bronze medal at the European Championships in Avenches, which was Sarah’s first call-up to a Senior championship squad since she got the chance to ride as an individual at Blair in 2015 with the gelding’s dam. She’s consistently been listed as a reserve, leading her to jokingly (and a little wistfully) refer to herself as the British team ‘super sub’, but at Avenches, she was rightfully selected to go and proved exactly why when she finished on a score of 23.6. There’s been a few moments of rotten bad luck that have stopped her taking a five-star with Reve du Rouet so far, but with this incredibly special little horse, it looks like a fresh start and a renaissance for this extraordinarily underrated rider who’s well overdue her big moment.

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Buck Davidson and Carlevo. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

54: Buck Davidson and Carlevo (USA)

Fifteen-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Caresino x Ramatuelle). Owned by Katherine O’Brien. 

If Carlevo was a person, he might be the kind of chap who wears airy harem trousers and has to pay for extra pages in his passport. That’s how well-travelled this experienced gelding is (though as Buck describes it, his vibe is a bit more ‘high-flying CEO with a heart of gold’). His career began in Germany with Dirk Schrade, and since joining Buck’s string in 2015, he’s competed at the likes of Boekelo CCIO4*-L in the Netherlands, Blenheim Palance in the UK, Tattersalls and Millstreet in Ireland, and Aachen in Germany. He’s also headed north of the border, with a fourth- place finish at Canada’s Bromont CCI4*-L in 2019 – but surprisingly, for all that jetsetting, this will only be his fourth CCI5*. He completed Kentucky in 2018 and again last spring, finishing in the top twenty both times. As the very last horse out of the box, and in the worst of the weather last year, he produced rather a slower round than we’d expect, so we’re looking to him to improve upon it this time out — though a horse fall in the Maryland five-star might mean that Buck opts for a rebuilding round. They’ve had one CCI4*-S run in the lead-up to Kentucky, finishing seventh at Bouckaert International despite activating a safety device. Their dressage score of 25.1 there was particularly impressive.

If they go for it, they stand a good chance of a competitive result. You can expect them to put up a fight in the first phase, as their scores inch ever-closer to the mid- 20s, and they should be classy and reliable across the country, though not among the fastest. It all hinges on the showjumping for this pair: they’re just as likely to go clear as they are to take two or three rails.

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Will Faudree and Pfun. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

55: Will Faudree and Pfun (USA)

Fifteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tadmus x Celerina). Owned by Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables.

We didn’t get to see the excellent Pfun run at Kentucky last spring because the gelding was sidelined with a minor injury – but now he’s back, baby, after a steady clear at Maryland in October saw him finish just outside the top twenty-five.

His 2021 started out well: he finished third in both the Advanced Intermediate at Pine Top and the CCI4*-S at Carolina, before enjoying a leisurely summer presumably sipping margharitas while he watched his friends go off to do the hard graft of going in circles and jumping big fences. That sparse season didn’t worry Will, though, because his experienced gelding has been so consistent in the eight years they’ve been tackling the FEI levels together. In fact, the last time Pfun had a jumping penalty in an international was on his CCI5* debut at Kentucky in 2017 – since then, he’s been delivering the goods, finishing fifth in the CCI4*-L at Millstreet, Ireland and fourth in the CCI4*-S at Unionville. His dressage scores have drastically improved over the last eighteen months, and he went sub-30 for the first time in his prep run at Carolina CCI4*-S in March.

Pfun – so named because he’s so fun to ride, and we don’t recommend Googling any other alternative meanings – brings charisma, consistency, and experience into his fourth career CCI5* run. We last saw him finish in the top twenty here when completing Kentucky in 2019, and though he’s had some time out with injury, he’s been laying down solid performances like clockwork over the last two seasons. We’ll be looking for him to better his dressage average, because his scores are getting lower each time out, and he’s very reliable in both jumping phases, so can climb.

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Pippa Funnell and Maybach. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

56: Pippa Funnell and Maybach (GREAT BRITAIN) – ROOKIE HORSE

Twelve-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Jaguar Mail x Lady Micra). Owned by S.H.E. Eventing.

The second of Pippa’s rides this week will be the debutant Maybach, who Pippa has been riding since 2017 on behalf of Sweden’s Hedvig and Sara Sjöborg Wik. Though he’s tended to live in the shadow of his five-star stablemates a little bit, he’s a very consistent competitor who’s more than ready to step into the spotlight this week.

Though this will be just his eighteenth FEI event, Maybach hasn’t scored outside the 20s since 2018, has never had an international cross-country jumping penalty, and is naturally pretty efficient, averaging 7 time penalties at the four-star level. His showjumping is his weaker phase: he’s had a rail of two in each of his CCI4*-L runs, and is more likely to deliver a clear in a short-format class. But this week will be an enormous foundational week for the gelding, who also has every chance of claiming a spot in the top ten. His tenth place in a hot field of over 100 at Thoresby CCI4*-S this month looks like a very promising bit of prep.

Pippa tends to be pretty savvy about how she prepares her horses for dressage, and if you’re out and about on site at Kentucky, you might see one of her savvy bits of ingenuity in action with this gelding. In preparing for the first phase at Bicton’s CCI4*-L last year, she did all her schooling in a jump saddle, saving the sitting trot for the test itself and focusing simply on encouraging a soft, loose, swinging back in the lead-up. Other tactics we’ve previously seen Pippa use with other horses include riding around the outside of the test arena with one hand behind her back, which can have a similar effect as it recentralises the riders balance and stops any fiddling. There’s a lot to be learned from focusing on the details when watching a rider of Pippa’s experience, and how lucky are we to have double the opportunity to do so at Kentucky?

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#lrk3de Links: Website, CCI5* Entries, CCI4*-S Entries, Live Scoring, Live Stream, Tickets, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to LRK3DE, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

IT’S HERE! It’s really, truly here! I haven’t felt this many butterflies about Kentucky in a long time – something about knowing the Horse Park will once again be filled with people feels so special, even though I’ll still be taking part from afar. If you’re heading over to spectate (you lucky duck!), please do consider having a bourbon for me. I don’t even like bourbon, I just feel like it’s integral to the experience.

All of us here at Team EN are in similar states of high octane excitement, and we’ve been putting it to good use: you’ll get loads of content over the next week, including a jam-packed form guide that’ll help you get to know every single horse and rider in the field, visual at-a-glance guides to nail the stats down fast, course previews, jog awards, the chance to win prizes and merch, on-site course walks, behind-the-scenes glimpses on our Instagram, and much, much more. We can’t wait to fangirl with you all.

National Holiday: It’s National Hug a Plumber Day! I think I’ve seen this film before.

U.S. Weekend Action:

River Glen Spring H.T. (New Market, Tn.): [Website] [Results]

Sporting Days H.T. (Aiken, Sc.): [Website] [Results]

Unionville Spring H.T. (Unionville, Pa.): [Website] [Results]

UK Weekend Results:

Bicton Arena (1): [Results]

Forgandenny (1): [Results]

Horseheath (1): [Results]

Kelsall Hill (1): [Results]

Global Eventing Round-up:

Poland’s Strzegom Horse Trials hosted a full plethora of international classes over the weekend, and it turned out to be a pretty jolly day in the office yesterday for Sweden’s Christoffer Forsberg, who won the CCI4*-L class from start to finish with Hippo’s Sapporo. That makes two four-star wins in as many weeks for the lanky Swede, whose bid for a spot at the World Equestrian Games looks stronger every day.

Are you attending this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event? Join EN and Ride iQ for a ridiculously epic course walk led by Kyle Carter and Buck Davidson on Friday, April 29. If you register ahead of time, you’ll be entered to win prizes such as a limited edition signed tote bag and goodies from our sponsors. Click here to learn more.

Your Monday Reading List:

Sometimes on a Monday morning, you just want to look at a few pretty horses. We get that, and the FEI apparently does too, because they’ve put together this piece that literally is just that: 15 event horses that… look real nice. Enjoy (and take note of Christoph Wahler’s position, too, which looks like it came from a page of Hunter-Jumper Equitation).

As Kentucky week begins, I’m thinking about the horses of years gone by who’ve lit a special spark in us all. One of those was the part Shetland Teddy O’Connor, who proved that the little guys can pack just as big of a punch. Here’s a sweet piece looking back at what made him such a cultural rallying point in our sport.

If there’s one thing that really unites eventers, it’s a love of gin. To that end, Oliver Townend has collaborated with Shropshire Distillery to create the Carousel Quest Gin, in honour of his first Burghley winner.

Has your horse been diagnosed with osteoarthritis? Learning how to manage this condition can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road for your eventer if you condition him accordingly and keep him supple. Here’s a great guide.

Listen to This: Head behind the scenes at Kentucky in the first episode of the Eventing Podcast’s coverage of the #bestweekendallyear!

The FutureTrack Follow:

Want to see what life is like on the road with Team Jung? Give Michael’s head groom, Lena Steger, a follow for plenty of Chipmunk antics and a whole lot of horsey love this week!

 

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Morning Viewing:

A little morning inspiration for you, courtesy of showjumping legend and, let’s face it, total Swiss hottie Steve Guerdat.

Saturday Video from SmartPak: Kick-start the Season with Ellie Fredericks

I won’t lie to you — a lot of the time, watching the sprogs of five-star riders completely and utterly bypass me as a rider makes me feel ancient, haggard, and wholly uncoordinated. But these days, I’ve learned to embrace my lot in life as the wise old Grandmother Willow of the sport, if trees could chainsmoke and binge-drink and dance on tables at Boekelo.

Anyhow, our Friday video today comes to you from one of those superstar offspring, and British eventer Ellie Fredericks comes from top stock on both her sire and dam sides. She’s the daughter of Clayton and Lucinda Fredericks, and over the past few years, has been hard at work proving that she’s got what it takes to go all the way herself. Get to know her with her latest vlog, which takes us on a whistlestop tour of Thoresby International. They grow up so fast.

Ramping back up into full work for the spring? SmartPak has everything you need to make the transition back to show season. Click here for more.

Kentucky Social Media Round-Up: And They’re Off!

Look, as a former resident of the US, I’d never want to disparage the travel times of the average US eventer en route to Kentucky, because I know all too well that it’s the sort of country where you can drive for roughly four hours and still not find a gas station and a decent sandwich. But flying a horse over the Atlantic Ocean? Come on now — even you experienced haulers who can somehow drive for 36 hours straight in a 24-hour time period have to admit that’s a really big deal. And over the last day or so, the European entries for Kentucky have been doing just that as they start their journeys to the Bluegrass State and a shot at one of the sport’s most prestigious titles. Let’s see how they’ve been getting on…

 

 

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A post shared by Yasmin Ingham (@yasmin_ingham_)

25-year-old British rider Yasmin Ingham is making her first ever trip to Kentucky with debutant Banzai du Loir, an elegant French gelding who’s been tipped as one of Britain’s best young horses after winning the 2020 eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S title and the 2021 Blenheim CCI4*-L. He’s a tall drink of water in the airplane crate he’s sharing with two diminutive but talented pals: he’s flanked by Jonelle Price‘s McClaren, who finished third at Pau last year, and Sarah Bullimore‘s Corouet, who won individual bronze at the European Championships last season and steps up to five-star at Kentucky. Safe travels, boys!

 

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A post shared by Lesley Ingham (@lesley_ingham)

Yaz’s parents also got their trip to the States started in fine style. We’ll raise a glass to that!

 

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A post shared by Yasmin Ingham (@yasmin_ingham_)

And here’s the view from the other side, as Banzai du Loir settled into his short quarantine in the US.

 

 

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Sarah Bullimore also filled us all in on how the last few weeks have gone as she prepares to send her tiny (15.2hh!) orange child on his biggest adventure yet. The future is bright; the future is orange!

 

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Do you reckon they get a bit of money knocked off the crate for a lighter load? Little McClaren and Corouet certainly won’t be contributing much weight (sorry, Banzai!) — look how sweet the pint-sized Kiwi looks before his departure!

Also heading to the airport in the UK are Pippa Funnell‘s two rides, her own Majas Hope and S.H.E. Eventing’s Maybach, who we hope had enough time to buy a couple of those really big Toblerones from Duty Free before catching a flight out of Stansted Airport.

 

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Ireland’s Joseph Murphy took a break from packing Calmaro‘s overnight bag to deal with his own — and a delivery of trot-up attire from Dubarry will have filled his suitcase nicely.

You can also follow along with Michael Jung‘s Tokyo horse, Chipmunk FRH, who’s en route to Kentucky with #supergroom Lena Steger as we speak. Lena has taken over Michael’s Instagram Stories for the trip and you can follow along here.

We’ll continue to keep you up to speed on all the latest arrivals — not far off now until the week we’ve all been waiting for is upon us!

#WaybackWednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Head Back in Time to Vintage Rolex

And yes, this time we actually can get away with slipping up and calling it Rolex – because back in 1982, the Kentucky Three-Day Event, now so generously supported by Land Rover, was still known by its title sponsor’s name. That was the year that Kim Walnes and The Gray Goose, who had finished second the year prior, returned to take a popular win – and in the years to come, they’d battle back from a near-catastrophic injury, take another podium place at Kentucky, win team and individual bronze at the World Championships, and become stars of the silver screen when they acted as competition stunt doubles in the classic eventing film Sylvester. These days, The Gray Goose lives on as part of the event that was such a pivotal part of his career: after his death in 2000, at the ripe old age of 30, his ashes were scattered at the Horse Park. Whenever we see a great grey tackle those jumps with particular guts and gumption, we see a little bit of the horse — and the rider — who inspired so many young riders to chase down their dreams.

Check out a recap of that extraordinary win — and the week of competition that preceded — in this hour-long round-up that was helmed by Nigel Casserley and Denny Emerson. It’s a real treat for fans of sporting history and fairytale wins, and it’ll definitely get you in the mood to see another dream come true next week.

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Check out this KPP article: Vitamin E and the Performance Horse – A Winning Combination.

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A Walk to Remember: Your Guide to Celebrity Coursewalks at Badminton

Course designer Eric Winter walks the line at the KBIS Brush Village. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Heading to the Cotswolds for Badminton Horse Trials this year? You lucky duck – not only will you get to be on site for the first Badminton in three whole years, you’ll also get to see arguably its best-ever field of competitors in action. And even better? Course designer Eric Winter has put together a course that’ll make that long absence feel worthwhile.

Of course, there’s nothing quite like getting out into the parkland yourself to get a sense of how big and tough these fences are – and if you’d like a bit of expert insight to accompany your hike around the estate, you’ll find plenty of great options for celeb-helmed walks throughout the week. We’re rounding up all the offerings so you can make your plan of attack on this big, bold, faintly terrifying track – and we’ll be updating it as more walks are announced, so keep it bookmarked as your handy guide to the week to come.

Note: coursewalk tickets do not provide entry to the site. You’ll need to purchase your passes directly through Badminton’s website – and all tickets must be purchased in advance. There will be no ticket sales on the gate this year.

TUESDAY, MAY 2

  • Grassroots Walk with Andrew Williams and Vicky Tuffs – 4.00 p.m.

Tackling the Voltaire Design Grassroots Championship this year? Take a spin around the course with professional insights from Andrew and Vicky, who can help you unpack the challenges presented on this exciting course.

This is a free coursewalk that’s open to all. Meet at the grassroots star box near Huntsman’s Close.

THURSDAY, MAY 5

  • Voltaire Design Walk with Andrew Williams and Vicky Tuffs  – 11.00 a.m.

Fancy breaking up a morning full of dressage tests with a jolly stomp around this year’s five-star track? Join in with a free coursewalk with Andrew Williams and Vicky Tuffs for expert insight and plenty of fun. There’s no cost to join in and the walk is open to all. Meet at fence two.

  • Walk with Georgie Spence — 2.00 p.m.

A popular and prolific name on the British circuit, Georgie is back at Badminton this year with the excellent Halltown Harley – and before you get ready to cheer the pair on over the weekend (you’ll be able to spot them by Georgie’s signature pink colours!), get some tips on how she plans to tackle Eric Winter’s tricky combinations with a tour around the course.

The coursewalk is open to all, but must be prebooked as numbers are strictly limited. Tickets are £15 and booking information will be released shortly – watch this space!

  • Emily King Eventing Club Coursewalk (time TBC)

Emily King, daughter of eventing legend Mary, returns to Badminton with her impressive debutant Valmy Biats – and you can find out all about how this talented young pro has prepared an up-and-coming horse for the greatest challenge of her career in an exclusive coursewalk.

This coursewalk is open to members of The Eventing Club and their guests only. You can join The Eventing Club for an annual fee of £25, and book your tickets for the walk, which are priced at £10 for members and £20 for guests, here.

  • Nick Turner BHS Coursewalk (time TBC)

Nick is one of the trainers to the stars, and his coursewalk with the Association of Fellows and Instructors of the British Horse Society will lend some incredibly interesting insight to Saturday’s action. This will be a particularly good option for coaches and trainers, who’ll likely glean some fascinating tips on preparing riders for tough tracks.

This coursewalk is open to all. Members of the Association of Fellows and Instructors can book on for £15; non-members can book on for £20. To reserve your spot, click here.

FRIDAY, MAY 6

  • William Fox-Pitt Eventing Club Coursewalk (time TBC)

Join two-time Badminton winner Lanky Will on Friday for an in-depth and entertaining tour of the course. He’ll be riding two horses around it on Saturday, so expect plenty of insight into how top-level questions can be answered differently depending on the kind of horse you’re on.

This coursewalk is open to members of The Eventing Club and their guests only. You can join The Eventing Club for an annual fee of £25, and book your tickets for the walk, which are priced at £10 for members and £20 for guests, here.

  • Event Horse Owners Syndicate Walks with Emily King and Ben Hobday

The friendly folks at EHOS will have two exclusive course walk opportunities available on Friday. The walks are open only to members of the Event Horse Owners Syndicate, but both Ben and Emily are competing horses that are syndicated with the group, so if you buy your annual membership, you won’t just get the chance to go on these seriously fun walks – you’ll also have be able to legitimately tell people you’ve got a horse competing this year! Annual membership costs £95 for a share in either Ben Hobday’s Shadow Man or Emily King’s Valmy Biats. Click here for more info and to join the club.

ENTER TO WIN EXCLUSIVE COURSEWALKS

This year, several brands and charities are offering money-can’t-buy coursewalks with some of the sport’s biggest legends. Put your name in the hat for a chance to see Eric Winter’s tough track up-close-and-personal with your heroes.

  • WEDNESDAY, MAY 4: Win a coursewalk with Lucinda Green and PetPlan Insurance

It takes a special kind of gumption to win Badminton, but what about winning it six times — on six different horses? There’s a reason Lucinda Green is every top rider’s heroine, and the insight she’ll give you into this course will be second to none. She’s also bloody funny, too, which certainly helps when you’re peering into the Vicarage ditch line. Click here to submit your free entry before the April 28th deadline.

  • THURSDAY, MAY 4, 2023: Win lunch and a coursework with Ginny Elliott and Spinal Research

We can’t stress enough that this one will take place next year – but it’s well worth getting an entry in now, because not only will you get to walk the Badminton course with this absolute legend of the sport, you’ll also get to enjoy a VIP lunch with her and find out all about life in the golden era of eventing. There are four pairs of tickets up for grabs, plus a tonne of other great prizes including gin hampers, clothes, and bougie handbags. Entries cost £5 each and all proceeds go to Spinal Research.

‘WALK’ THE COURSE ONLINE

Can’t make it to Badminton this year, or want to get to grips with the track before you arrive? You’ve got plenty of options .

EN headed to the estate to walk the track with course designer Eric Winter dive into our long-read preview, packed with images and insights, here.

Prefer to watch? Sign up to Badminton TV for a video preview with Eric and 2017 winner Andrew Nicholson, hosted by presenter Nicole Brown. The subscription fee is a one-off payment of £19.95, but you’ll need this to access the livestream this year, which is being exclusively shown behind the paywall.

If you want to brush up on minute markers and alternative routes, the Cross Country App has released a guided walk with Eric and Lucinda Green that leaves no stone unturned. You can access this for free via their website, or for free with optional, purchasable extras, via their app.

Finally, Horse&Hound has posted a sneak peak of their course photos online, ahead of their in-depth walk with Andrew Hoy, which will be in the April 28th edition of the magazine and will be accompanied by video content on their website on the same day. You can find the magazine at your local newsstand (if you’re UK-based!) or access it digitally here.

 Badminton Horse Trials: WebsiteEntriesEN’s CoverageLive Stream, Course PreviewEN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

“It’s Worth Tacking Up for Cross-Country if You’re in 60th Place”: Walking the 2022 Badminton Track with Eric Winter

“You think this is big? I’m just getting warmed up.” – Eric Winter, probably.

“There’ll be no one single fence that should catch them out — it’s a test of being able to deal with terrain and a number of different varieties of question,” says Badminton course designer Eric Winter as we cruise through the course he’s been incubating since early 2020. Since his appointment as designer in 2017, he’s created a flavour for the course that’s uniquely his: he’s never worried much about set stride patterns, choosing instead to reward those riders who can show adaptability on the fly, and he’s always been in favour of a well-rounded animal that’s comfortable crossing terrain and picking its way through the kinds of questions that might be encountered on a day’s hunting, for example.

And after three years without Badminton? Eric’s ethos has been to keep the challenge at the level it would have been if the pandemic hadn’t happened – and in fact, this year’s course is almost exactly the one he’d designed for 2020’s cancelled competition. What does that mean, in a practical sense? Well, mostly that it looks big. We’ve not seen anything this dimensionally beefy in a long time: Pau, Luhmühlen, and even Kentucky tend not to be as colossal, while Bicton’s pop-up five-star course was intentionally built smaller because the terrain was so tough. Tokyo and the European Championships, for their part, were four-star courses, and we’ve not seen a Badminton or a Burghley since 2019. It feels a little as though we’ve forgotten what it’s like when a designer and his team of builders really flirt with the maximum dimensions – but we’re getting a wake-up call now.

“I’m aiming for a 50-60% clear rate,” he says. “And just a couple inside the time. You’ve got to get people through the gate, and at 70%, there’s not enough happening — and people want to see something happen. Nothing disastrous, of course, but things have to change, and I want to create a course that means that if you’re in 30th place, you can still tack up and go fight for a spot in the top five. It’s worth tacking up for cross-country if you’re in 60th place because you could still end up in the top ten. That sort of thing. This is a day that makes you famous: look at the likes of Alex Bragg. In 2017 nobody had ever heard of him; he was a Somerset Intermediate rider with a few horses, and then he sat as the leader of Badminton from 12.30 until 2.30, and it put his name in front of a group of people who could then buy into him. On days like that, riders are made.”

In many ways, this year’s course feels like old-school Badminton: it’s jam-packed with variety, and it doesn’t have many of the super-skinny accuracy questions we tend to see at most major events these days. This is part of a conscious effort by Eric, who wants to reward boldness, adaptability, and those riders who take their horses out of the arena and train over terrain. As such, he’s starting to explore previously under-utilised areas of the estate – a healthy bit of pioneering that he assures us we’ll see lots more of in the years to come.

“We’ve moved away from the Colt Pond at the bottom and tried to move to the hillier sections,” says Eric, who wants to transform the typically flat-ish challenge into a more classic test of horsemanship. “And we’ve changed the track quite dramatically down at the Vicarage ditch line – that’s quite an intense route, and there’s some really big ditches down there. There’s a ditch down there that makes the Vicarage Vee look jumpable!”

Well, as they say, rather them than us. We headed to the Badminton estate for a closer look at the track to come with Eric himself – and here’s what we learned along the way.

Note: we only photographed the key combinations as we zoomed around with Eric, and the fences hadn’t yet been dressed for the main event. We’ll update this preview with further photos as we get them. 

The course map for 2022.

Fence 1: The Spillers Starter

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

This year, the course runs counter-clockwise – but that decision isn’t just an arbitrary one. Each running of Badminton sees the course change directions, which means that an Olympic or World Championship year is built counter-clockwise and a European Championships year is designed to run clockwise. Though Eric has focused his attention this year on playing with terrain and undulations more so than he has in his previous three courses here, running in this direction, he explains, gives horses and riders a bit of a flatter start, which allows them to simply focus their attentions on getting into a positive rhythm. That’s extra important, because the middle section of the course is so intense and will rely so heavily on that positivity – so if you squander your chances of getting going on the right foot now, you’ll face the consequences later.

To that end, the first few jumps are simple, straightforward, sizeable single fences, designed to get horses in the air. And the first fence they’ll meet? A familiar one in the Spillers Starter, which is situated in the arena and will get them underway with an appreciative roar from the crowd. The fence itself isn’t massive, but the butterflies — and the grim resolve riders will feel — will be. 3, 2, 1: have a good ride!

Fence 2: Haywain

The Haywain. Photo by Rachel Dyke.

There’s not an awful lot to say about this single fence, except that it’s a wagon, it’s pretty big, and it’s usually somewhere on the course. It looked like this in 2018 and 2019, and we still don’t really fancy jumping it ourselves, if we’re honest — but for competitors here, it’ll be no problem at all.

Fence 3: Badminton Logs

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

“The good thing about living locally is that in the winter, me and James [Willis, course builder] can go out in the woods and pick out some trees and play around,” says Eric, indicating the natural fallen tree trunks on a mound that make up fence three. “While we were out there, we saw two trees that had fallen down just like that, so I said, ‘that’ll be fantastic off that bank!’ Anyway, it took ages to get them up, and make them stand, and get them in the right shape. We had a crane and everything, and then [former Director] Hugh Thomas drove down and said, ‘you know what? That’s probably the most expensive and time-consuming 1.20m rolltop I’ve ever seen!’ It was difficult to argue with at about five o’clock in the evening after we’d just been working on that one fence.”

Fence 4ABC: HorseQuest Quarry

Here, you can see the left-handed line from the A element of the Quarry, visible in the back right of the image, and the B element of the direct route, which is the stone wall in the foreground. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Finally, they’ll pop out over this fairly sizeable box, which will be covered in fresh brush akin to a steeplechase fence. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The first combination on the course comes up reasonably quickly at the Quarry, but it’s not a particularly tough question – and even here, Eric has provided a long route for those who might need a slower, steadier start to their round – or, more likely, those who find themselves landing in a bit of a muddle after ballooning over the first element, because those who make a concrete plan to go long here from the get-go might want to reconsider how prepared they really are for this course.

The straight route takes our competitors over a girthy, inviting log, which has been positioned further from the lip of the quarry than in previous years to ensure that horses land on the flat, rather than diving to the bottom.

Then, they’ll hook to the left, up and out of the quarry over a 1.20m stone wall. It’s a pretty upright, solid fence, but squaring off that turn will set horses up well – and any horse who’s been out hunting will have no concerns about a piddling little thing like this. That, as it turns out, is exactly what Eric is hoping for: “I think the way we make the sport safer is by building the kind of questions that encourage you to train outside of the arena — to take your young horses out and get them used to topography and terrain and make them footsure and quick off their feet.”

Finally, before they depart at a gallop, they’ll turn to the right and pop a narrow-ish brush box, which will be dressed in thick boughs of greenery – just like the brush boxes at the Lake in 2019.

Fence 5: RDA Fund Raiser

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

This single fence shouldn’t cause too many issues, but it’s not quite a run-and-jump breather fence: the skinny log with a ditch in front will encourage an attacking approach and can provide a test of line, as it’s approachable at an angle. Mostly, though, its role is to act as a speed bump.

“I hated the old days, when you could do three long routes and win because you could do 800mpm from the Quarry to Huntsman’s,” says Eric. “These days, it’s getting more like a one day; you land and can already see your next fence. You used to land and go across four fields before the next fence.”

Fence 6ABC: Voltaire Design Huntsman’s Close

From the Quarry, there’s not an enormous amount of space before you reach Huntsman’s Close, which is a much more significant question, and the ditch and log at fence five is essentially a speed bump en route to it. But even the speed bumps should be used tactically: riders who make sure their horse is adjustable and rideable to this ‘gimme’ fence will stand a much better chance of finding their line and sticking to it when they come to the first real challenge on the course.

Huntsman’s comes up early this year and presents the first significant challenge on the course with its tricky bending line. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

And boy, what a challenge Huntsman’s Close is. There are a few things that contribute to making this combination tricky: there’s the line itself, which snakes you over (or past, if you haven’t done your homework) three tall, relatively wide angled hedges. The three-stride line between A and B looks easy enough, but the first time you walk it, B to C looks almost like an optical illusion – and it’s not until you walk it backwards and find a more creative line between the first two hedges that you start to find your way to the third. There’s some room for interpretation, depending on the kind of horse a competitor is sitting on: they could jump all three elements on a swooping arc, or angle the first and ride a curve to plan a straight line from the second to the third, or right direct from A to B and make a quick, sharp turn to the final element. It’s a great way to test how well competitors know their own horses, and how well they can interpret what their horse is giving them on the day – those who are easily influenced by other riders’ plans of action probably won’t do themselves any favours here.

“It’s really how you deliver to the second one of these hedges that gets you to the third one,” says Eric. “If you don’t deliver well to the second, and you arrive there a bit straight, especially on one that’s a little fresh, you’re stuffed — but they’re all there to look at different horses. Bettina Hoy’s big black thing that she used to ride that would really run through the bridle at the start of the course, if you got there on that on a straight line, you’d be stuffed. But if you’re on a little pony you can turn and pop them and do what you want, because there’s enough distance to S-bend them a bit. It’s a bit about what you’re sat on, but around the whole course, I’ve tried to look at the training of everything — so some bits suit those [run-and-jump] horses, while some bits suit the little, nippier ones.”

The weather will also play a major role here, because it’s the most shadowy part of the course: a very sunny day could cast high-contrast shadows that move through the day and lend an element of visual trickery to the questions, so riders will need to have a solid plan and be firm in how they communicate it.

This is the first point on the course where we’ll expect to see some broken hearts: it’s not at all hard to imagine even a very good horse dipping out to the left-hand side of the C element, or a particularly naughty one grabbing the bit between his teeth and galloping headlong down the welcoming gap down its right hand side. We’ll see our first moments of agricultural riding here – but function over form is what Eric so often rewards.

Visually, though, this feels like a much nicer prospect than the Huntsman’s Close of 2019, which came late in the course and was made up of white birch rails, spectral and primed to fall like some kind of aggressive wooden spiderweb.

Fence 7: Pedigree Kennels

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

Eric Winter is a kind, benevolent man, and he doesn’t want you to feel intimidated by your first Badminton experience in three years — so as a little present, he’s given you a table that’s so large the Tories are charging bedroom tax on it. A breather! A little break! How nice!

Fence 8: Lightsource bp Lower Lake

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

This is the first chance our competitors will have to get their toes wet (or, preferably, their horses’ toes, rather than their own). As they approach the lake from the house end, they’ll pop an inviting brush fence and arc through the water. The aim of the game? Letting horses and riders get ahead on the clock now, because they’ll lose plenty of time in the middle section of the course as they traverse the Vicarage ditch line.

Fence 9 and 10AB: Badminton Lake

The lake looks a little different this year without the trucks of previous years – but riders will have enough to focus on as they find their way in over this hefty brush log…

…after which they’ll pick their way out over a double of skinnies, before flying back down the length of the lakeside. Photos by Tilly Berendt.

The iconic Badminton lake, with its sweeping vista of the house’s facade (and a lot of drunk people enjoying the hospitality in the lakeside marquees) looks a little different here – in this, the first running post-Mitsubishi sponsorship, we’re not actually making horses jump truck beds. A shame, really — though my offer to park my Peugeot 208 a couple of strides off of the A element was quickly rejected, which seems like evidence of a worrying lack of creativity to me.

Anyway, the defining feature of this year’s journey through — and around — the Lake is really that turn into it. So often, we see the first element sit roughly where the B element of 10 is now, but this time, our competitors will jump into the lake nearly facing the house, having ridden directly at the crowd and then hair-pinned back. The big, brush-topped log at 9 isn’t too dissimilar to the one we saw in 2019, though it’s been relocated – and the lack of a big fence beforehand, the role those trucks used to fill, means that the turn in isn’t set up for the riders. Instead, they’ll need to manufacture the adjustment in the canter and create the turn themselves, rather than hairing around at a gallop and firing over the log.

The rest of the question looks, at first glance, to be a lot more straightforward than in any of Eric’s previous years. Competitors will have a choice of two skinnies in the water, depending on how and where they land, and then they’ll cruise out over the same question on dry land at 10B. The line from the log to the right-handed skinny is a little bit easier, but makes the B element on dry land a much more angled question; if riders can plan their line well and get a neat jump over the log that lets them get to the left-handed skinny, they’ll find the line out much easier. In 2019, we saw a step up out of the water to a capacious brush mound; in 2017 and 2018, there was a much less obvious line between the skinny elements Eric opted to use, and his signature use of variable striding caught plenty of people out.

That’s what’s key to remember here: though the question and the line look straightforward, Eric leans heavily on striding challenges, and wants to see that his competitors can make rapid-fire adjustments depending on the jump they get into the lake. The answer to the question isn’t to find your striding in your walks and commit to it come hell or high water – instead, it’s to know the distances that are available to you so well, and so intrinsically, that you can rework how you use them if something doesn’t go quite to plan. With that big drop on the landing side of the log in, it’s likely that most competitors will find themselves landing in a very different place to the one they’d planned — and they need to be able to tackle the rest of their line accordingly.

Fence 11: World Horse Welfare Lakeside

The water-feature table at the Lake Is unchanged from 2019 (shown here), but will be jumped in the opposite direction. Photo courtesy of Badminton Horse Trials, CrossCountry App and Jill Martin.

This enormous 1.20m (3’11) lakeside table returns for its sophomore appearance after causing very little concern in 2019. It’s a unique fence, and a frightening looking one, because not only is it somehow both beefy and airy, it’s also topped with a water feature. This was inspired by a fountain Eric spotted in an Oxford restaurant while wining and dining his wife, Lizzel, back in 2018 – and though there’s little opportunity to throw a coin into this one and wish for a fairytale ending, it comes up at enough speed that the horses don’t even notice the moving water. More frightening, frankly, is that 2.30m (7’6) base spread.

Fence 12AB: Clarence Court Egg Boxes

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

Look familiar? You’ve seen these odes to chicken ovulation before – a couple of times, in fact. They’re usually a mainstay of Burghley’s course, but they’ve made their way south-west this year to make their mark on Badminton. It’s actually quite rare for ‘novelty’ fences like these to show up on Badminton’s course, because designers tend to lean into the traditional, rugged features of the countryside and aim to build timeless fences that look natural, rather than creating showpieces for their sponsors, but that makes the few rare instances on this course stand out in a bright, sunny sort of way.

Though this is a combination fence, it’s certainly not one of the complicated ones on course, and it’s not actually designed to present much of a question to competitors at all. Instead, it’s a perfect example of Eric’s own brand of sneaky ingenuity: here, he’s given riders a cheat code, and now he can sit back and see who’s clever enough to use it.

The egg boxes are set on two positive strides and are slightly angled, and they’ll be quite easy to cruise over in a nice rhythm and use as a let-up fence. And if your horse is absolutely on his game, listening to your aids, and behaving marvellously? Fantastic – save his energy, and your own, and use them as such. But from here on out, the course is getting very, very serious indeed, and this is your final chance to install some nuance to your aids.

“I wanted somewhere before the guts of the course where, if they’d had a sticky jump at the lake, they could just give their horse a tap and wake it up a bit,” says Eric. “If you make it too complicated in the build-up and they haven’t got them in front of their leg, they won’t have a good time – so this fence and the next fence are really fences just to get them set up and going forward again. They’re for rebuilding.”

As riders clear the egg boxes, they’ll head into the middle section of the course: a section so intense, and so exciting, that we’re hereby dubbing it the Devil’s Playground.

Live footage of this year’s competitors walking the middle section of the course.

Fence 13: Ford Broken Bridge

The old-school broken bridge at 13 feels like a real blast from the past, and while it shouldn’t rack up too many penalties, it’s a real test of how riders prepare for the next fences. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

What a novelty! The broken bridge at 13 was teased to us all for 2020, and though we were robbed of our chance to go truly 1949 and see the dressage take place in front of the house, we’re very excited about this truly old-school effort that’ll yield some — ugh, can we bring ourselves to say it? — iconic photos from this year’s event.

Though these fences were commonplace decades ago, many competitors this year will never have met anything quite like it. For horses, it’ll look pretty straightforward: the rails on either side channel them down to the little upright rails at the end of the bridge, and as long as they’re ridden in with a positive, forward pace, they’ll land well clear of the revetted lip on the landing side. It’ll look — and feel — a little bit like jumping off the edge of the world, and we don’t really recommend looking down, because it’s all a bit vertigo-inducing. Ultimately, it’s a rider frightener – and as is often the case with those, the answer is to keep your eyes up and kick like the devil’s on your tail. He is, and he’s wearing a Schoffel gilet and carting a Labrador around with him.

“Ride it fast. You can’t be going quick enough,” says Eric sagely. Butter wouldn’t melt.

Fence 14ABC: KBIS Brush Village

The trio of colossal brush-topped tables and corners of the KBIS village come up fast after the footbridge. Here’s a glimpse at the dimensions of the A element…

…and a look at the line between B and C. Photos by Tilly Berendt.

Think back, if you will, to those eggboxes a scant few moments ago. How did you ride them? Did you cruise through without a care in the world, or did you sit up, ask your horse to change his stride length, and use them as a schooling exercise? You did the latter, didn’t you – and that was jolly clever of you, because now you’re going to reap the rewards of your commitment to forward thinking. The KBIS Brush Village is a lot of things: dimensionally massive, first of all, which feels like rather a surprise after a couple of years of smaller jumps even at the top level, and technically complicated, which is a serious bit of strategic building after that run-and-jump broken bridge.

The key thing about this combination that can’t be understated is that it comes up incredibly quickly after landing from the bridge. Riders will have only a short space to readjust their stride and get their horse’s head up, and if they land running and their horse is inclined to go through the bridle or fight against the contact, they’ll be in trouble by the time they get over the first element, a very wide brush-topped table.

If the rideability is there, the left-handed line to B and the forward three strides to C will come up well – but we’re expecting this corner-to-corner question to exert a fair amount of influence.

“The relationship between the bridge and this is crucial — how they set up will be key,” says Eric. “They need to woah and canter down to this. The real superstar horses will make the adjustment look easy.”

Fence 15: MARS Equestrian Footbridge

The iconic and influential footbridge is back – and it doesn’t look any smaller after a couple of years in hibernation. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

From the brush village, riders will head straight into another kind of test of line and commitment – the footbridge, a sprawling angled oxer and ditch combination on a slightly downhill approach. This is one of Badminton’s mainstay rider frightener fences, which is sometimes used instead of the Vicarage Vee to make use of this natural ditch in the estate. This year, though, our lucky competitors will get to jump both, plus a new addition to the course. We’re sure they’re delighted.

Fence 16: Countryside Alliance Roll Top Brush

Just a nice, normal, easy fence. Nothing to worry about. All good. Everything’s fine.

This is one of those ‘let-up’ fences that appears on the course every year and never, ever looks any more like an act of generosity: at 1.45m (4’9) high, with a base spread of 2.30m (7’6), it’s among the course’s biggest fences. But for all that, it has a sloping, kind profile and a smattering of brush on top that’s basically the equestrian equivalent of singing your ABCs.

Fence 17AB: MARS Equestrian Sustainability Bay

The water complex at 17AB, as photographed in 2019. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

This water complex is effectively unchanged from 2019: again, there’s a waterfall drop in at the A element, which will see competitors pop a little (70cm/2’3) log with a hefty drop in of 1.80m (5’10). Then, they’ll make a left-handed turn to the B element, a trough in the water. This is 1.14m (3’9) tall, but it’s not the dimensions that could cause an interruption – it’s the waterfall element, which will require positivity to conquer, but shouldn’t be one of the major influential questions on course because of where it appears.

“Last time, it was the first water on course, but this time, they’ve already got their feet wet,” says Eric. “I was surprised at how much trouble it caused last time — I think it’s difficult to know how much pace you want to it, because you roll back to it. You don’t want to chase to it, because you’ve got the other fence very close to it, so you want to pop off it — but then you’re really reliant on the horse being confident enough to roll on and jump the B element.”

Fence 18ABC: LeMieux Leap

The first element of the LeMieux Leap is a tall but reasonably inviting hedge. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Don’t look down, for the fiftieth time on this course.

This is an interesting combination — and almost certainly an influential one — because of its eye-wateringly huge open ditch, which had several of us scrambling to check the rulebook for dimensional limitations. Previously, we’ve seen this ditch feature as the yawning underbelly of a trakehner, but this time, horses and riders will pop an upright hedge on a downhill slope before leaping over a crevice deep and wide enough to park a car in. After that, they’ll need to gather up the knitting and unclench the bumcheeks quickly, because a sharp downhill to a skinny element at C comes up fast. It’s an interesting cross between a coffin complex and a Normandy bank, and it’ll make or break a few rounds. Upper level horses with hunting mileage are rare these days, but there are a couple in this field — and we’ll be looking to them to make the best of this novel question.

Fence 19AB and 20: Nyetimber Corners

The airy timber corners at 19AB and 20 will present a serious challenge…

…particularly as they’re clipped with more sensitive yellow MIMS devices, which will activate easily if a horse makes an untidy effort. Photos by Tilly Berendt.

Keen followers of eventing will have an almost visceral reaction to the words ‘yellow MIMS’: though we’re all for safety technology, these new, ultra-sensitive versions of the classic red clips have caused their fair share of disappointments since the FEI mandated their use on open corners. The Tokyo Olympics were undoubtedly affected by them: Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH were among the combinations to activate them, and without the 11 penalties they received after the fence fell strides after landing, they’d have taken the individual gold medal.

The yellow MIMS clips at the Nyetimber corners are the only ones we’ll see on this course, but it’s not hard to imagine that they could end up being one of the primary stories of the day. They feature in the latter part of the most intense section of the course, so horses and riders alike will be mentally and physically tired at this stage, but they’ll need to pull it all back together to effectively showjump through this tight left-handed line. The short approach in and the dip in the ground between the two jumps should help them out: both will help set horses back onto their hind ends, but even so, this will take some serious riding and we could see it exert a dramatic influence on the leaderboard.

Fence 21 and 22: Rolex Rails

Most riders wonder if the Vicarage Vee will be present on any given year’s course. This time, they forgot to ask if Eric would build it a brother fence that’s on steroids. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

As I drove home from Badminton, my overworked phone buzzed away with question after question after question from riders who’d spotted my revoltingly self-indulgent ‘teasers’ on social media, in which I showed absolutely nothing of the course and bleated a few tepid takes like, “it’s big” and “it’s Badminton.” 95% of those messages said the same thing: “will I be jumping the Vicarage Vee this year?” I ignored them all and have never felt more in-demand. 10/10; highly recommend.

Anyway, the answer to that question, finally, is yes – twice. As if eventing’s most notorious rider frightener wasn’t enough on its own, Eric has opted to build another one, and its ditch is considerably bigger and more frightening. There’s a long route here if riders don’t fancy ageing themselves by 30 years simply from the stress of it all.

Fence 23AB: Holland Cooper Vicarage Vee

What’s more fun than jumping one of the world’s most iconic rider frighteners? Jumping two of them on a related distance. Here, you can get a sense of the proximity of the Rolex Rails in the foreground and the Vicarage Vee in the background. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Actually, though, the Vee itself looks much more jumpable this year, partly because it’s so dwarfed by the ditch at the Rolex rails, and partly because larger timber makes it look less airy and intimidating. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Of course, there’s a bright side to everything — and here, it’s that the Rolex Rails ditch is so big, and so mean looking, that by the time you get yourself to the Vicarage Vee itself, it actually looks…kind of small? That’s helped along by the new, thicker timber used for the rails, which are more visually appealing than they’ve been in their skinnier years of yore. There’s a lesson in body positivity in there somewhere, but more importantly, there’s a very precise line to be ridden here, or you’ll end up in the ditch. Once again, there’s a long route option — but if you take both long routes through this dastardly related distance, you might still be out there on Sunday.

Fence 24ABCD: Lightsource bp Solar Farm

It’s important for riders to have a plan in the forefront of their mind at the solar panels, because there’s a lot to look at here. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Those who opt for the straight route, though, will have a nice direct line, one less fence, and – interestingly – a bounce question ahead of them. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

This is, in effect, a sort of sunken road complex, and it has two distinctive routes that can’t be mixed and matched. The direct route on the left-hand side takes competitors over a single solar panel at the top of the quarry, after which they’ll canter down and then back up over the lip before popping over a bounce of solar panels. For those who don’t fancy their chances over a bounce late in the course, there’s a right-handed route that serpentines over four panels on a related line – but this long route probably won’t be used that much, as most riders won’t want to give their horse an extra jumping effort this late in the game.

Fence 25: Badminton Collection Flower Boxes

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

Fence 26AB and 27: MARS M

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

Fence 28: The Brewers Barrel

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

Fence 29AB: Savills Hay Feeders

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

At this point, we’re on the home stretch – but the silliest thing a person can do is get complacent over the final questions on a five-star course. Though there aren’t any questions that match the intensity of the middle section of the course at this stage, they’re still big fences that require attention and care, because well-placed competitors have seen their day end in this final stretch before, and they may well do again.

Fence 30: Joules Keepers Ditch

It’s a rare thing to see a skinny question so late on this course – but this one, just before the arena, could exert some late-stage influence if riders don’t have their wits about them. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“It’s like the longest foreplay to an event ever,” bemoans Eric with a grin as he surveys the course that he designed and actually put out all the way back in 2020. For all that the time could have been spent panicking over the finer points of the course, though, it remains largely untouched – and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a creative, bold, and exciting track with some surprising elements – the use of terrain and those hefty ditches; the relative shortage of tiny skinnies and accuracy questions; the commitment to producing a real run-and-jump course and horse. In fact, some of the few skinnies on the course come very late on, as competitors head back towards the arena and its final efforts.

In 2019, we saw Eric use a pagoda as an unjumpable, flagged element that riders had to go through – and this is a clever move, because it doesn’t add extra effort for the horses, but it does make the line to their next fence more defined and thus, more tricky. Last time, competitors crossed a skinny ditch beneath the pagoda, but this time, they’ll canter through, cross a dipped, ditchy bit of ground, and pop a skinny house at the lip of the slope. They’ve got a left- or right-handed option here to play with, and they’ll want to make a sensible decision if they find themselves on tired horses at this very late stage. It’s very different to the usual chase fence we’d see here.

Fence 31: Rolex Trunk

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

After clearing the final combination, the red and white livery of the arena is in sight – here, you know you’ve very nearly done it. But there’s still two fences to come, and it would be a crying shame to come off at one of them, so there’s a bit of a weaving approach to keep you awake into fence 31, the Rolex Trunk, which is a big, straightforward hanging log.

Fence 32: Platinum Jubilee

Photo courtesy of the CrossCountry App.

As is tradition, the final fence is set in the arena — and after tackling Eric’s playground of doom, they’ll be glad for the thick crowds in the grandstands, who’ll cheer them home and into the waiting arms of their support teams. How does it feel to cross the finish line at Badminton? According to riders in years past, it’s beyond words; a feeling of elation and magic mixed with intense relief; it’s like a kind of numbness that’s unique to chasing a childhood dream and catching it, fleetingly, between your fingers. How will it feel after three years away from the world’s best-loved venue? Like coming home, we expect.

Badminton: [Website] [Cross Country Ride Times] [Live Scoring] [CrossCountryApp Preview] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Ultimate Guide] [EN’s Instagram] [EN’s Twitter]

Badminton Draw Sees Harry Meade Take Trailblazer Role

Harry Meade and Tenareze. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

After a couple of minor technical hitches, the Badminton Horse Trials draw was conducted live via Facebook this morning, helmed by presenter Rupert Bell and pulled by the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort. As always, all entered horses and riders – including the 23 still on the waitlist — were given a spot in the drawn order, which comprises 118 total allocated numbers at this stage.

This year’s trailblazer will be local entrant Harry Meade, who has three horses entered and will be allowed to come forward with two of them. That gives him the luxury of some choice: he drew number 1 with Tenareze and numbers 2 and 102 with Cavalier Crystal, both of whom are five-star first-timers, while his experienced campaigner Away Cruising will be among the last out of the box as number 101. British rider Kirsty Chabert will be second in the ring — and out of the start box — with her first ride Classic VI, followed by an Irish double-hander in Padraig McCarthy and Fallulah (4) and Joseph Murphy and Cesar V (5).

The man with the most entered horses will be relieved to have a bit of a breather before his turn: World Number One Oliver Townend has frequently drawn the number 1 position on this list, too, but this year, he’s all the way down in 11 with Kentucky victor Cooley Master Class, 12 with Tregilder, 13 with Burghley and Kentucky winner Ballaghmor Class, and 14 with the former Andrew Nicholson mount Swallow Springs. At the other end of the list, he holds number 107 with Ridire Dorcha, 108 with Tregilder, 109 with Ballaghmor Class, and 110 with Swallow Springs. He’ll be able to pick one of those early draws and one of the late ones for his final selection, which looks likely to be Ballaghmor Class and Swallow Springs.

Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby at Burghley. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

118 numbers have been allocated in total for a final starting list of 85 horses and riders, and with such an enormous spread, predicting when horses and riders will perform their dressage tests is more of a guessing game than an exact science. But the USA’s hot list of entered riders look largely set to dominate Thursday, with Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby leading the way as number 20. Following closely behind them is Phillip Dutton with Tokyo partner Z, who have been allocated number 22, while Tamie Smith and Mai Baum will make a bid for the dressage lead as number 26, which should see them sit in the first session after the lunch break. British-based US pair Tiana Coudray and Cancaras Girl are currently ninth on the waitlist but, if accepted, will follow Tamie and Mai Baum as number 27. Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan hold number 30, which also currently looks like a Thursday afternoon slot, while Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way have drawn 48, which puts them on the cusp between the end of the day Thursday and first thing Friday morning.

Matt Flynn and Wizzerd. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Further down the field, and looking much more like a Friday competitor, is Matt Flynn and Wizzerd, who have been based in England since January and will tackle their first Badminton wearing the number 55. They’ll have good company that day: Emily Hamel and Corvett are currently first on the waitlist and will wear number 95, while US-based Aussie Dom Schramm and Bolytair B have drawn number 64. Canada’s Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes will follow them as number 65, and Mike Winter and El Mundo, currently seventh on the waitlist, have been allocated the enormously covetable (?) 69. Grow up, you lot.

Piggy French and Vanir Kamira win Badminton 2019. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Reigning champions Piggy March and Vanir Kamira have drawn number 19 and will certainly be one of the combinations to watch, as will Piggy’s second ride, the excellent Brookfield Inocent, who has drawn number 114. World Champions Ros Canter and Allstar B come forward as number 10, preceded by European Champions Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin in 9. The entirety of Britain’s Tokyo front is out in force: 2020 Pau winners Laura Collett and London 52 have drawn number 70, while 2019 Pau winners and Olympic individual silver medallists Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser have an early draw of 7. Could it be a lucky number for the hot favourites in the field?

Kylie Roddy and SRS Kan Do. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

 

Last to go will be Badminton first-timers Kylie Roddy and SRS Kan Do, who impressed on their five-star debut at Pau last year for eleventh place. Kylie has also drawn number 17 with waitlisted entry Carden Earl Grey. The final start list will be confirmed on Sunday, May 1, after the final substitutions window from the waitlist closes at 2pm local time.

Here’s the full draw list, with waitlisted combinations italicised:

1, 2: Harry Meade and Tenareze or Cavalier Crystal (GBR)

3: Kirsty Chabert and Classic VI (GBR)

4: Padraig McCarthy and Fallulah (IRE)

5: Joseph Murphy and Cesar V (IRE)

6: David Doel and Ferro Point (GBR)

7: Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser (GBR)

8: William Fox-Pitt and Oratorio II (GBR)

9: Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin (GBR)

10: Ros Canter and Allstar B (GBR)

11, 12, 13, 14: Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class, Tregilder, Ballaghmor Class, or Swallow Springs (GBR)

15, 16: Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On or MGH Grafton Street (GBR)

17: Kylie Roddie and Carden Earl Grey (GBR)

18: Bill Levett and Lassban Diamond Lift (AUS)

19: Piggy March and Vanir Kamira (GBR)

20: Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby (USA)

21: Caroline Powell and Up Up and Away (NZL)

22: Phillip Dutton and Z (USA)

23: Aistis Vitkauskas and Commander VG (LIT)

24: Francis Whittington and DHI Purple Rain (GBR)

25: Bundy Philpott and Tresca NZPH (NZL)

26: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum (USA)

27: Tiana Coudray and Cancaras Girl (USA)

28: Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue (IRE)

29: Rose Nesbitt and EG Michaelangelo (GBR)

30: Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan (USA)

31: Elizabeth Power and Soladoun (IRE)

32: Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding (NZL)

33: Cathal Daniels and Barrichello (IRE)

34: Sarah Ennis and Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (IRE)

35: Arianna Schivo and Quefiro de l’Ormeau (ITA)

36: James Sommerville and Talent (GBR)

37: Ben Hobday and Shadow Man (GBR)

38: Helen Wilson and My Ernie (GBR)

39: Tom Rowland and Possible Mission (GBR)

40: Christoph Wähler and Carjatan S (GER)

41: Zara Tindall and Class Affair (GBR)

42: Sofia Sjoborg and DHI Mighty Dwight (SWE)

43: Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden (GBR)

44: Kitty King and Vendredi Biats (GBR)

45: Izzy Taylor and Artful Trinity (GBR)

46: Caroline Clarke and Touch Too Much (GBR)

47: Hector Payne and Dynasty (GBR)

48: Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way (USA)

49: Fiona Kashel and Creevagh Silver de Haar (GBR)

50: Felicity Collins and RSH Contend OR (GBR)

51: Emily King and Valmy Biats (GBR)

52: Jonelle Price and Classic Moet (NZL)

53: Alice Casburn and Topspin II (GBR)

54: James Rushbrooke and Milchem Eclipse (GBR)

55: Matt Flynn and Wizzerd (USA)

56: Sarah Bullimore and Reve du Rouet (GBR)

57: Sharon Polding and Findonfirecracker (GBR)

58: Samantha Lissington and Ricker Ridge Rui (NZL)

59: Harry Mutch and HD Bronze (GBR)

60: Emma Hyslop Webb and Waldo III (GBR)

61: Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford (AUS)

62: Katrin Khoddam-Hazrati and DSP Cosma (AUT)

63: Luc Chateau and Troubadour Camphoux (FRA)

64: Dom Schramm and Bolytair B (AUS)

65: Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes (CAN)

66: Susie Berry and John the Bull (IRE)

67: Maxime Livio and Vitorio du Montet (FRA)

68: Sarah Way and Dassett Cooley Dun (GBR)

69: Mike Winter and El Mundo (CAN)

70: Laura Collett and London 52 (GBR)

71: Rosie Fry and True Blue Too II (GBR)

72: Libby Seed and Heartbreaker Star Quality (GBR)

73: Bubby Upton and Cola (GBR)

74: Gireg le Coz and Aisprit de la Loge (FRA)

75: Clare Abbott and Jewelent (IRE)

76: Jo Rimmer and Isaac Newton (GBR)

77: Arthur Duffort and Toronto d’Aurois (FRA)

78: Tom Carlile and Zanzibar Villa Rose Z (FRA)

79: Tina Cook and Billy the Red (GBR)

80: Cedric Lyard and Unum de’Or (FRA)

81: Joris Vanspringel and Creator GS (BEL)

82: Cyrielle Lefevre and Armanjo Serosah (FRA)

83: Sam Watson and Ballybolger Talisman (IRE)

84: Becky Heappey and DHI Babette K (GBR)

85: Nicky Hill and MGH Bingo Boy (GBR)

86: Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy (NZL)

87: Arthur Chabert and Goldsmiths Imber (FRA)

88: Richard Jones and Alfies Clover (GBR)

89: Tom Crisp and Liberty and Glory (GBR)

90: Alex Bragg and King of the Mill (GBR)

91: Sammi Birch and Finduss PFB (AUS)

92: Ugo Provasi and Shadd’OCC (FRA)

93: Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley (GBR)

94: Jean Lou Bigot and Utrillo du Halage (FRA)

95: Emily Hamel and Corvett (USA)

96: Simon Grieve and Mr Fahrenheit (GBR)

97: Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift (GBR)

98: Selena Milnes and Iron (GBR)

99: Lauren Innes and Global Fision M (GBR)

100: Kirsty Chabert and Opposition Loire (GBR)

101, 102: Harry Meade and Away Cruising or Cavalier Crystal (GBR)

103: Padraig McCarthy and HHS Noble Call (IRE)

104: Nicola Wilson and Erano M (GBR)

105: William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire (GBR)

106: Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo (GBR)

107, 108, 109, 110: Oliver Townend and Ridire Dorcha or Tregilder or Ballaghmor Class or Swallow Springs

111, 112: Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street or Majas Hope

113: David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed (GBR)

114: Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent (GBR)

115: Tom McEwen and CHF Cooliser (GBR)

116: Joseph Murphy and Calmaro (IRE)

117: Bill Levett and Lates Quin (AUS)

118: Kylie Roddy and SRS Kan Do (GBR)

 

Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feeds

 

 

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Just when we thought we’d left engagement season behind us, that sneaky little sausage Tom McEwen makes a surprise entry onto the list of nuptial planners. Huge congratulations to Tom and fiancé Harriet Fettes, who we’re confident will have found the opportunity for some celebrations amidst the madness of Badminton planning. Expect a big, boozy wedding with lots of dancing on tables from these two!

Events Opening Today: Flora Lea Farm YEH and Mini EventCarriage House Farm Combined TestGenesee Valley Riding & Driving Club Spring H.T.Poplar Place June H.T.MCTA H.T. at Shawan DownsGMHA June H.T.The Spring Event at ArcherIEA Horse Trials

Events Closing Today: Riga Meadow at Coole Park Combined TestWaredaca H.T.Poplar Place May H.T.Miami Valley H.T. at Twin TowersCatalpa Corner May Madness Horse TrialsApple Knoll Farm H.T.The Event at Skyline

News & Notes from Around the World:

Keep British event rider Caroline March in your thoughts. The 29-year-old competitor (and sister-in-law of Piggy March) was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Major Trauma Unit after a serious fall in the CCI3*-S at Burnham Market on Saturday.

We’d all do just about anything for our horses – but what happens when that isn’t enough? Lauren Spreiser considers the tough side of animal advocacy in her latest blog, which is a strangely comforting read for anyone who’s ever had to make the hardest decision a horse owner is ever presented with.

Meet this year’s US-based Kentucky rookies and find out about their first memories of the eventWant more first-timer stories? Keep it locked onto EN – we’re profiling all of this year’s rookies through the week!

Video Break:

Rewatch this morning’s Badminton draw – and check out the new trophy – here:

Monday News & Notes from FutureTrack

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes – and the sure knowledge that, in the hours after the Badminton course is released, Robin Dumas will be out in his field with a hammer and a tractor, rebuilding the questions for the UK’s highest flyers to practice over.” – Ben Franklin, probably.

Where is the lie, though? The Badminton TV course preview programme dropped last night, and just moments later, we spotted fences on the move at Rosamund Green Farm, the Somerset base of the Dumas family. Their expansive schooling facility has always been one of the top options for upper-level riders, and even boasts its own schooling Vicarage Vee – a real boon for those riders heading to Badminton who’ve just discovered they’ll need to jump the iconic fence not just once, but in duplicate, because course designer Eric Winter has BUILT ANOTHER ONE.

We were delighted to get the chance to walk the Badminton course with Eric last week, so you can expect a bumper debrief on the course to come tomorrow evening – but in the meantime, you can watch the preview show with Eric, Andrew Nicholson, and presenter Nicole Brown here. 

National Holiday: It’s Easter Monday. It’s also tax day. Hope you’ve retained some chocolate eggs.

US Weekend Action: 

Ocala International Festival of Eventing (FL) [Website] [Results]
Twin Rivers Spring International (CA) [Website] [Results]
Fair Hill International April H.T. & CCI-S (MD) [Website] [Results]
FENCE H.T. (SC) [Website] [Results]
Longleaf Pine H.T. (NC) [Website] [Results]
Spring Bay H.T. (KY) [Website] [Results]

UK Weekend Results:

Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market International: [Results]

Ascott Under Wychwood (1): [Results]

Voltaire Design Eland Lodge: [Results]

Are you attending this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event? Join EN and Ride iQ for a ridiculously epic course walk led by Kyle Carter and Buck Davidson on Friday, April 29. If you register ahead of time, you’ll be entered to win prizes such as a limited edition signed tote bag and goodies from our sponsors. Click here to learn more.

Your Monday Reading List:

There’s nothing wildly glamorous or exciting about hauling ourselves to the gym – but it’s really important to ensure we’re riding our best. USEA touches base with Badminton-bound Ariel Grald to find out more about her own gym routine and what she prioritises in her workouts. It might just offer the inspiration you need to get back to it after some serious weekend feasting.

For every aid you’ve got, there’s a long list of subtly different ways you can use them. For example, your rein aids can be direct or indirect, bearing or opening, or you could activate the pulley rein in case of an emergency. Brush up on how they all work and what you might need them for here.

Word nerds and history geeks, unite: this in-depth examination of the history of the curry comb and its spicy name will give you plenty of, um, food for thought this morning.

Equine outreach programmes are gaining traction, and now there’s a study to prove how much of an impact they can make. Researchers studied a number of groups around the world, focusing their attention on indigenous youth, and found that groundwork-based programmes that focus on communication and relationships had the biggest overall impact. Find out more here.

And finally, Piggy March steps into a new role this week as a guest columnist at Horse&HoundTune in for her reflections on Thoresby’s first four-star, producing blood horses to their peak performances, and the big issue of prize money at international competitions.

The FutureTrack Follow:

 

 

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EquiReel are out and about all over the UK and Ireland, filming competitors’ cross-country rounds, and that’s all well and good – but really, you need to follow them for the blessed weekends in which they cover lead-rein classes. I’ve never enjoyed tuning into sport more than I did when watching this video.

Morning Viewing:

Ever wondered what it’s like to have a jolly good time with the Kiwi eventing crew? Go behind the scenes at their recent owners’ and sponsors’ day and get a glimpse of the good life:

Badminton Entries Update: Popular US Pair Withdraw; Sweden Gets The Nod

Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

When it comes to entering Badminton, actually getting onto the list is nearly as much of a challenge as completing the tough course: each year, it attracts triple-figure entries and, with only 85 available spots, the competition is fierce for a spot on the startlist, which is allocated by FEI points. And so we all indulge in British Eventing’s finest sideline sport – waitlist watching. Generally speaking, we’ll expect to see at least 14 horses and riders make it in off the waitlist – that’s the minimum we’ve previously seen since the waitlist’s inception in 2008, though it’s no guarantee of this year’s final number.

So far, though, it’s been pretty slow going, and with the final substitution window closing on May 1 at 2pm, the sleepless nights have started for many riders stuck in limbo. So far, we’ve seen five waitlisted combinations make the cut – so let’s take a look at who’s gotten the nod and who’s waiting in the wings.

Sofia Sjoborg and DHI Mighty Dwight. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Our latest withdrawal comes from the USA’s Lauren Nicholson, who had entered the excellent Vermiculus as part of a strong American front this year. This is a particularly notable withdrawal because Vermiculus, or ‘Bug’, is owned by Jacqueline Mars of MARS Equestrian, who join the Badminton family as presenting sponsors this year. Lauren’s withdrawal allows Badminton debutants Sofia Sjoborg and DHI Mighty Dwight, who compete for Sweden and made their five-star debut at Pau last year, to take their place on the main list.

Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby. Photo by Abby Powell.

Prior to today, we’ve also seen British pair Alex Bragg and King of the Mill get the nod after the withdrawal of France’s Sidney Dufresne and Swing de Perdiat, while US pair Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby booked their plane tickets following the withdrawal of New Zealand Olympic pair Jonelle Price and Grovine de Reve. Britain’s James Sommerville and his stalwart partner Talent and Australia’s Bill Levett and the debutante Lates Quin have also been called up to replace American pair Sharon White and Cooley On Show and Australians Sammi Birch and Hunter Valley II. Belgium’s Constantin van Rijckevorsel and Beat It, who were first on the waitlist, have also withdrawn from contention.

This takes us to seventh on the waitlist, and next to take up their spots as starters – assuming we do see more withdrawals – will be Great Britain’s Nicky Hill and MGH Bingo Boy. Ireland’s Esib Power and Soladoun are second in the wings, while American duo Emily Hamel and Corvett will be third in order of priority currently. A total of 26 combinations remain waitlisted at the time of writing.

Tuesday News & Notes from Legends Horse Feed

The retirement of Mr BassLaura Collett‘s much-loved partner-in-crime, was a real bummer in the latter half of last year – but hang on, are those his ears we’ve seen Laura snapping on her Instagram stories?! That’s right: Chuck Bass is back, baby – well, sort of! We probably won’t ever see the quirky, cool gelding in competition again, but he’s loving life at home acting as Laura’s in-house therapist and ‘hobby horse’. We love that for him (and for Laura, too)! If anyone needs us, we’ll just be here, patiently waiting for our turn for a go.

Events Opening This Week: Spring Coconino H.T.Flora Lea Spring H.T.Willow Draw Charity ShowMay-Daze at the Park H.T.Equestrians’ Institute H.T.VHT International & H.T.

Events Closing This Week: Horse Park of New Jersey Spring H.T.Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Spring H.T.Ram Tap H.T.University of New Hampshire Spring H.T.Stable View Spring H.T.

Are you attending this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event? Join EN and Ride iQ for a ridiculously epic course walk led by Kyle Carter and Buck Davidson on Friday, April 29. If you register ahead of time, you’ll be entered to win prizes such as a limited edition signed tote bag and goodies from our sponsors. Click here to learn more!

News & Notes from Around the World:

Ever heard a bell when you’re pretty sure you shouldn’t have heard a bell? It’s a horrible feeling — especially if you don’t know why you’ve been dinged, or what to do next. Brush up on the protocol before your next event with this handy guide.

Who among us hasn’t occasionally found life with horses just a little bit, well, hardBut it doesn’t have to be — if you can learn how to depressurise a situation and find a bit of inner zen to stop it from escalating. Anna Blake shares some seriously solid words of wisdom in this piece about all the ways we make things a little bit harder for ourselves without really realising it.

Canada’s Dana Cooke is on a hot streak at the moment. And after an impressive win in the CCI4*-S at Chattahoochee Hills with FE Mississippi, she’s got her eyes on the World Equestrian Games in Pratoni this summer – but she needs a little help from the eventing family to make it happen. Check out her brilliant fundraising auction to get your hands on some seriously cool items and experiences and help make her dream come true in the process.

The horse world would fall apart without the hard work of the grooms who make the magic happen. But while we’ve all shelled out our hard-earned money for plenty of riding lessons over the years, how do you actually get the required training to excel in this career path? There’s on-the-job learning, of course, but even better is guided education – such as this clinic and presentation by David O’Connor, who taught groundwork and horsemanship skills to a rapt audience.

Need a podcast for today’s mucking out session? The newest episode of the Sidelines Podcast features an interview with Doug and Jess Payne that’ll give you a good boost to get the day going.

Video Break:

Go grassroots eventing in the UK with young rider Flo Carter, who tackled the BE100 (Training) class at Portman Horse Trials.