‘It’s a 5* and it’s a Derek Course – It Should Be Fun!’: Riders React to Kentucky Cross Country

One down, 27 to go. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It’s cross country day at Kentucky! The riders have walked the course and made their plans – now it’s time to see how it all pans out.

The consensus is that, well, “it’s Derek”.

What does that mean exactly?

It’s big and rewards bold riding; it’s sneaky hard, but ultimately totally fair; there are some surprising twists and turns – and it’s exactly what the riders signed up for.

The course this year is 6,520 meters with an optimum time of 11 minutes and 26 seconds. It’s longer than it has been for the last few years and has a lot of different twists and turns from previous years. All the main features are out there, but they’re being done in a new way.

We can’t wait!

Who will claw their way up the leaderboard? Who will drop down? And who will be right up there at the end of the day?

It’s all to play for at #TheBestWeekendAllYear!

How will today’s events fit with the form? Follow along with EN’s Form Guide here.

Don’t miss a minute – check out how to watch live, here.

Want to see just what all the fuss is about the corgi fence? Have a look at the 5* cross country course here and see what EN makes of the course here.

Keep up with EVERYTHING by following @goeventing and checking out EN’s coverage of the #BestWeekendAllYear.

LRK3DE: [Website] [5* Times] [5* Scores] [4* Times] [4* Scores] [Schedule] [Live Stream] [Tickets] [EN’s Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Ultimate Guide]

Want more LRK3DE info each day during competition? Sign up for the free LRK3DE Daily Digest email, which will be sent each day through Monday, May 1. Find all of EN’s latest coverage, sponsor promotions and discounts, chances to win daily giveaways, and much more! Click here to sign up.

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

Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir (1st):

I’ve been on a couple of walks now and the more I look at it, the more I like it. I’m just focusing on my minute markers, all the combinations and the different elements, and making sure I know which lines I’m taking and what stride patterns and things. It’s looking good and I’m looking forward to tackling it tomorrow.

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin (2nd):

I think it looks amazing to be honest. It’s got to be one of the best course designs in the world.

For me, it’s all about getting into a good flow and building on on your round as you go around. [Course designer, Derek di Grazia] rewards you for good riding and being in flow – take one too many chances and I’m sure there’ll be a little error, but it’s a fantastic course. It’s very different for us from the UK to see firm-ish ground, so this is a novelty for this year.

The course is designed so well and it’s beautifully carved – it’s a stunning place to be and I’m very lucky to be here.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum (3rd):

There’s a lot to do, and as everybody knows, it’s a five-star and it’s a Derek course, so should it be fun. He always has something up his sleeve that nobody ever really knows until they’re out there. I have a great horse and I just plan to try to go out there and stay in the saddle.

It’s a great feeling to be able to be here at Kentucky, and then to have Derrick as the course designer – we know him now and he’s really good at what he does. I think he has a lot of trust from riders from all over the world. He knows what he’s doing and we trust that he does, so if anything goes wrong, then it’s probably our fault.

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic (4th) / Off The Record (13th):

It looks like a typical Derek course – it’s sort of sneaky hard, I would say. It all looks lovely and very inviting, but he’s got some very clever things and you have to be pretty on the ball all the way around, but that’s how it always is here. I don’t think there’s any one question that I’m particularly concerned about. It’s the whole way around – where one little moment, if you don’t react well, it could cause trouble. You’re going to have to be really on your toes for 11 minutes and 26 seconds. It looks like a great course and hopefully the weather will only make the footing better.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C. Photo by Amy Dragoo.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C (5th) / 8th Deniro Z (8th) :

I think there’s enough to do out there and the time will be tight, so we’ll just do our very best.

It’s quite different than some years – a lot twistier. I think the time will be difficult. Hopefully we’ll have very good ground with a bit of rain tonight. Near the end of the course there’s some very strong questions which will demand a lot of accuracy. That’s going to be a big question – Derek always designs very well that way. The coffin’s very early as well. It’s definitely a five-star.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg (6th) / Contessa (20th=):

It’s sort of what I expected – a big, long course. It’s tricky and technical and exactly what we signed up for.

Buck Davidson and Sorocaima. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo (7th) / Sorocaima (26th) / Erroll Gobey (28th=):

It’s interesting. It’s a little bit different – for the last few years, we’ve started off going straight and then we turned a lot coming home. [This year] there’s a lot of turning at the beginning – turning you back uphill. Coming home, it’s this long straight run. It should be interesting. I think it will probably suit Sorocaima and Carlevo – and [Erroll Gobey], it’ll probably be good for him too. We’ve just got to jump every jump. It’s certainly fair, it’s beautifully presented, and you’ve got to take your chances.

Woods Baughman and C’Est La Vie 135. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135 (10th):

It looks really nice. Florida was all brown – it’s green and beautiful and the footing is good, and that course is unreal.

Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26 (11th):

It’s big – but I didn’t expect something else from a five-star – also tricky, but very fair. Even the tricky fences or the narrow fences, you really see and want to attack them – it’s not like it backs you away from it. After the dressage I will go [and walk the course again] with my dad to slowly make a plan, and then tomorrow I have a whole day for just mentally preparing for the cross country.

Zara Tindall and Class Affair. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Zara Tindall and Class Affair (15th):

It’s great. There’s lots to do, and hopefully there’s some nice lines that will be inviting. I’m just going to make sure that we put the right strides in and jump [the fences] at the right speed, and hopefully they’ll all come up nicely.

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap (16th):

Everything’s there to go do and individually nothing seems terribly daunting – but together, I think it’s going to be a true test for sure.

Jennie Saville and FE Lifestyle. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Jennie Saville and Stella Artois (18th) / FE Lifestyle (23rd) / Twighlightslastgleam (27th):

It looks great. Derek’s such a great designer. This place is so beautiful. I like the striding, [Twilightslastgleam] has got a little stride – his back is kind of tight – so I’m glad that nothing seemed [too long], besides maybe the Head of the Lake where I think I’ll add on him. Hopefully I can make it. We’ll give it a go!

Maxime Livio and Carouzo Bois Marotin. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Maxime Livio and Carouzo Bois Marotin (20th=):

For sure, it’s a little bit tougher here [than Pau] because it’s more hilly, and the beginning of the course is a bit more twisty than it is normally. I think we might be few seconds later after the third or the fourth minute, at that moment, we can go faster, but we have to be careful not to use all the gasoline. Technically speaking, I think there is a pretty big question at the coffin, because it’s really hair-pinned on and the brushes are really, really big. [Also at] the last combination, because the horse may try to go on the last little stride, it’s the same thing really – turning and going up, so I think it might disturb a lot of horses. The last difficult one, for me, is the last water jump with the corner at the top of the hill – it’s also in the middle of two strides. So that’s the three main questions for me, but all the rest is still difficult enough.

Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Allie Knowles and Morswood (24th):

I’m really excited because I know [Morswood] is a wonderful partner to go out with. It doesn’t look easy by any means, but to have a horse that is literally hunting the flags for me and clearly isn’t one step ahead of me – it’s a good feeling.

Hawley Bennett Awad and Jollybo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Hawley Bennett Awad and Jollybo (30th):

I think it’s very fair. It’s very big, but if you don’t want to go straight, [Derek’s] given you great options – you obviously want everyone to come home. He’s not trying to be tricky or sneaky with any of the lines. Like I said – it’s big, and it’s fair, and I’m excited.

Emily Hamel and Corvett. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Emily Hamel and Corvett (31st):

It looks good. There’s enough to do, but it all seems possible. There’s no glaring things where you’re like, ‘oh my gosh,’ but it’s just going to require focus and concentration the whole time.

Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Jessie Phoenix and Wabbit (32nd):

The cross country course looks like a full on five-star. There’s a lot of good questions and a lot of terrain, as you’d expect.

Erin Kanara and Campground. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Erin Kanara and Campground (34th):

It looks like Kentucky! It’s big. It’s brave. They’ve done an incredible job on the footing. I know there hasn’t been much rain here and it’s very clear that there are areas where they needed to water. We’re going to have some rain tonight so I think the goings going to be about perfect on Saturday. There are some technicality questions that are there for you to be careful – to be exactly on your line – and then there’s a couple of spots where you’ve got to be really brave and come in on a big gallop. I think it looks good. It’ll be [Campground’s] first time around the five-long here so it’ll be a test for him, but I think he’s definitely up for it.

Sydney Soloman and Early Review C. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Sydney Solomon and Early Review CBF (35th):

It looks tough enough. I haven’t walked that many five-star courses. I definitely respect it and I don’t think I’ll be able to make a lot of mistakes out there. But I really trust my horse and our partnership, so hopefully, we can get it done.

Zach Brandt and Direct Advance. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Zachary Brandt and Direct Advance (36th):

There’s a lot to do, but I think it’s a really good course and I think it really suits [Direct Advance] well. I’m really looking forward to getting out there. He gets really, really strong in the bridle, and he’s just a galloping horse, so the bigger the better, the longer the better. I can’t wait to get out there and be able to let the reins out a little bit. It’s 11 and a half minutes, so he might get rideable by the ninth minute.

So, there’s plenty to do out there then! But the riders are up for it!

Buck Davidson’s our pathfinder and will be out on course at 1:20pm EDT / 10:20am PDT / 6:20pm BST with Erroll Gobey.

Currently in 3rd place, Tamie Smith and Mai Baum will leave the start box at 2:04pm EDT / 11:04am PDT / 7:04pm BST.

Great Britain’s Tom McEwen, who’s sitting in second with JL Dublin, gets underway at 2:16pm EDT / 11:16am PDT / 7:16pm BST.

And our leaders after dressage, World Champions Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir, will be aiming to stay at the top of the leaderboard at 2:48pm EDT / 11:48am PDT / 7:48pm BST.

Let’s go eventing!

LRK3DE: [Website] [5* Times] [5* Scores] [4* Times] [4* Scores] [Schedule] [Live Stream] [Tickets] [EN’s Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Ultimate Guide]

[Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]

Want more LRK3DE info each day during competition? Sign up for the free LRK3DE Daily Digest email, which will be sent each day through Monday, May 1. Find all of EN’s latest coverage, sponsor promotions and discounts, chances to win daily giveaways, and much more! Click here to sign up.

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