Dressage Powerhouses of Kentucky: Day Two Morning Sessions

Chris Burton and Nobilis 18 at Burghley in 2016. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography. Chris Burton and Nobilis 18 at Burghley in 2016. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography.

Welcome back to the 2018 edition of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event! Yesterday we watched as half of the horses put on their dancing shoes and today the second half of the field will get their chance. Quite a few of the heavy hitters ended up in the Friday sessions, so this preview will be split between morning and afternoon. Check back at lunch for a quick preview of those going later in the day. Click here to see the order of go with ride times and here for all the details on how to watch live.

In case you missed the action yesterday, here’s a quick recap. The competitors will be performing the 2017 FEI 4* Test B, which was brand new last year, but not in use. Kentucky will be the first four-star to utilize this test, putting old favorites and four-star rookies on a totally level playing field as they navigate through the test for the first time. Since Kentucky is the first four-star to be held each year, no one has yet seen how the test rides in competition yet. Check here for a summary in all the ways in which this new test differs from the old.

Another big chance for this year is the loss of the 1.5 multiplier on the penalty marks for dressage, making the scoring a straight conversion to penalty marks. An average of 70.0% from the ground jury will translate into 30.0 penalty points, instead of 45.0 as it would have in previous years. This will cluster the competitors closer together after the first phase, making the jumping phases more influential. Again, as the first four-star to run in the calendar year, Kentucky will be the first four-star to see how the new scoring system affects final placings.

Judging the competitors will be Christian Landolt of Switzerland, who presides over the ground jury. Sue Baxter of Great Britain and Jane Hamlin of the United States join him as members of the ground jury. Jane Hamlin will be a member of the ground jury for the World Equestrian Games later this spring, so her scoring will be of particular interest to riders trying to make a team.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo lead off Friday dressage at 9:30 a.m.; Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monte Carlo are the final pair to perform at 2:42 p.m. Thirteen horses complete their tests before the lunch break.


Buck Davidson (USA) and Carlevo: Buck Davidson has really taken his time at the three-star level with this horse, running him four times at the CCI3* level before making the move up this weekend. From day one though, Carlevo had a good grasp on his flatwork, scoring over 70% in his very first CIC3* and going on to score above that mark in seven of his 11 starts at the three-star level so far. This pair has never scored worse then 33.0 at this level.

Aiming for: Top 10

Ride time: 9:30 a.m.

Oliver Townend (GBR) and MHS King Joules: MHS King Joules and Oliver Townend have never failed to hit the 70% mark in their international career together, and have flirted with the 75% mark on two occasions, one of which is the horse’s only 4* start at Burghley in 2016. This pair is almost a lock to be in the top 10 after dressage and will be challenging for the top three if he’s having a good day.

Aiming for: Top Three

Ride time: 9:38 a.m.

Lauren Kieffer (USA) and Vermiculus: Vermiculus is a bit of a wild card in the first phase, coming out swinging in 2017 to break 70% in three of his four 3/4* starts, an eight-point improvement over his previous form. However his international scores this season have backslid to the 65-68% range, although he did receive marks of 73.4% at Rocking Horse Advanced in February. The big question will be if he’s on the upswing or the downswing coming into today.

Aiming for: Top 10

Ride time: 9:54 a.m.

Chris Burton (AUS) and Nobilis 18: Nobilis 18 and Chris Burton may have set an British eventing record with their percentage of 79.9% (equivalent to 20.1 penalties) at Burghley in 2016, but their normal range is generally between 72-74%. That jaw-dropper of a score also means that his 4* average is the best in the field, as he also scored 26.9 at Badminton earlier that same year. This is one of the few pairs in the field whose 4* average and personal best beats their respective 3* average and personal best.

Aiming for: Top of the leaderboard

Ride time: 11:12 a.m.


Steady Eddie has yet to hit 70% at the 3/4* level, but he’s unusual in that his personal best at 4* (30.9 at last year’s Burghley) bests his top 3* score. Meanwhile Tight Lines has hit that mark only once but did it in style, clocking in a 26.8 at Richland 3* last summer. Landioso is another who has cracked 70%, both at the 3* level and at the 4* level. Landioso goes in the first morning session while both of the Thoroughbreds go in the second morning session.

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