Kentucky Cross Country Open Thread, Presented by Horseware

Caroline Martin and Spring Easy. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Started from the bottom, now we’re here – and folks, it’s going to be one heck of a day at the Land Rover Kentucky Horse Trials. We’ve got a big, technical cross-country challenge set by course designer Derek diGrazia, we’ve got blazing hot competition, and we’ve got enough adrenaline to power a small country, so that’s good (and slightly unsettling).

Tuning in? Here’s how to watch, wherever you are. If you want a closer look at today’s challenge, check out our preview and photo gallery, with everything you need to know. For stats and insight on the top cross-country pairs in the field, dive into this debrief by Maggie Deatrick, who was dubbed the ‘Math Chinchilla’ by one of our lovely readers yesterday. We’ll be getting her a t-shirt made imminently.

Here’s the leaderboard after dressage:

Our first horse and rider to leave the start box will be Islandwood Captain Jack, piloted by Caroline Martin. They’ll be starting at 10.30 a.m. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 … let’s have a great ride, everyone.

#LRK3DE: WebsiteSchedule, EN’s Ultimate GuideEntries & Drawn Order, Live ScoresHow to Watch LiveUSEF NetworkHorse & Country TVEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

2.10 p.m.

Your top ten going into the final horse inspection tomorrow! We’ve seen three double-clears today, plus Will Coleman’s round, which was inside the time but clocked up 15 penalties for missing a flag. Lauren Kieffer and Paramount Importance were the only other pair to pick up a 15, while Dom Schramm and Bolytair B were the only pair to be awarded 11 penalties for knocking a frangible pin. 31 of our 37 starters completed today.

2.07 p.m.

Here’s that clip of Ariel Grald taking a flag home that I promised about eighteen hours ago:

2.02 p.m.

8.2 time for Lauren and Vermiculus! They’ll be eighth overnight.

1.58 p.m.

Just Lauren left on course now – she goes long at the Normandy Bank.

1.57 p.m.

“Its a tough track – a lot harder than it walked,” says Boyd Martin. “Watching horses go this morning, I knew I was in for a tough round. There’s a long road to go still, but we’ll make sure he recovers well and jumps around tomorrow, and then we’ll start thinking of glory. Last year was much more brutal, and tough, and testing – this year I thought it was much softer, but I was wrong. After Phillip went through the Normandy Bank direct I knew I’d get made fun of if I didn’t!”

1.53 p.m.

Last horse and rider are on course now – it’s Lauren Kieffer riding Vermiculus. This cool little horse looks super, super game.

1.51 p.m.

BOYD IS CLEAR ON 11:11. Our fastest time yet and also, crucially, a time you can make one hell of a wish on. MAKE THOSE WISHES PEOPLE

1.50 p.m.

BEAST MODE ACTIVATED

1.49 p.m. 

WAY up on the clock for Boyd and Thomas! They go direct at the Normandy Bank – one of the very few who had attempted it – and make it look laughably easy.

1.47 p.m.

One second over for Doug and Vandiver! Clever boy, saving himself that time. He’ll be top ten overnight.

1.46 p.m.

Boyd basically just picked Tsetserleg up and put him on the other side of the corner at the Hollow. Blaaaadddddy hell, that would have stopped for anyone else!

1.45 p.m.

Doug goes long at the Normandy Bank but takes the ultimate inside line – he hops the decorative shrubbery to save a fraction of a second.

1.43 p.m.

Every Thoroughbred that started today has completed. Love a good TB!

1.42 p.m.

Boyd is the only person who can take away Oliver’s one-rail advantage tomorrow – and he’s also, remarkably, never won the 5* National Championship here. COME ON THEN BOYDOOOOO

1.40 p.m.

Vandiver is sired by Windfall, Darren Chiacchia’s Olympic ride – and so is Boyd Martin’s Tsetserleg, who has just started!

1.37 p.m.

10.8 time penalties for Hawley and Jollybo! Vandiver is just powering along – what a cool horse!

1.36 p.m.

Doug Payne and Vandiver are our newest starters. Jollybo is looking brilliant on course.

1.34 p.m.

“He’s unbelievable. He’s had very good prep this year. He made his own mind up a couple of times – I’m used to him being a bit behind me and a bit too careful, but anyone could have ridden him round there today,” says Oliver Townend. “[Derek] is one of the best designers in the world – it really tests you and your horse, and your feel. Again, he’s produced a true five-star track to test us every second of the way. If he repeats what he did last year Richard Sheane of Cooley Farm will be having a celebration.”

“There’s Oliver trying to nail down a discount on his next Cooley purchase,” uuips John.

1.33 p.m.

Sharon White and Cooley On Show opt to retire after further problems at the Mars Sustainability Bay.

1.32 p.m.

A stop at the first water for Sharon White and Cooley On Show. Phillip Dutton and Z stop the clock at 11:18 – the same time as Tim Price.

1.32 p.m.

One happy Yorkshireman!

1.31 p.m.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo on course now. We can confirm that Lauren Kieffer has also been awarded flag penalties with Paramount Importance.

1.30 p.m.

“It was really good. He’s got a lovely, long gallop on him, so I tried to use that to my advantage. He stayed with me the whole way and kept galloping, and that’s the key to going fast,” says Tim. He’s the only rider to go clear inside the time – Will Coleman has been awarded flag penalties.

1.27 p.m.

1.2 time to add for Oliver and Coolio, but no one can catch them – they’ll lead overnight!

1.26 p.m.

Oliver goes long at the pond, nearly gets chased by a loose dog, causes a few minor heart attacks. KEEP. YOUR. DOGS. ON. LEADS. OR. LEAVE. THEM. AT. HOME.

1.23 p.m.

Jessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound finish with 6.4 time. Oliver goes long at the Normandy Bank – but he’s well up on the clock.

1.22 p.m.

Phillip Dutton and Z now following Oliver around the course.

1.21 p.m.

Pheeewwww! Oliver and Coolio miss a stride out at the second water. That was a bit hairy!

1.20 p.m. 

Cooley Master Class pushes a flag out over the natural log, which will be reviewed – but it looks good from this angle.

1.19 p.m.

Direct through the Hollow for Oliver and Coolio – MAN, those lines were tight. Oliver doesn’t want to risk adding a single second.

1.18 p.m.

WAHOOOO! Two seconds under the time for Tim Price and Xavier Faer. Bit of an ugly ride at the first water for Oliver and Cooley Master Class, but they’re clear!

1.17 p.m.

Imagine being a score collector and having your horse go for a ginormous wee right as Oliver gallops past you. Better out than in and all that…

1.16 p.m.

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class – our overnight leaders – will be our next starters. And they’re off!

1.15 p.m.

Two long routes for Tim now – he goes long at the Normandy Bank. Still up on the clock though!

1.14 p.m.

Oooof – an awkward moment at the Head of the Lake for Tim Price and Xavier Faer, and Tim draws on every inch of his experience to make it happen.

1.13 p.m.

Clear with 17.6 time for Matt Flynn and Wizzerd! He’ll be pleased with that in his first five-star.

1.11 p.m.

Jessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound now on course. Tim Price goes long at Pete’s Hollow.

1.10 p.m. 

That’s 26.8 time for Waylon. Tim is showing us why he’s among the best in the world – he looks like he’s just out for a quiet canter, but he’s so economical and jumps everything out of stride.

1.08 p.m.

Lots of time and 20 penalties, which will be up for review, for Waylon Roberts. We’ll bring you a video soon so you can see what you think.

1.05 p.m.

Tim Price and Xavier Faer have started! Tim is chasing the Grand Slam here this week after his Burghley win last season.

1.02 p.m.

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 finish with 9.2 time penalties! Waylon Roberts running into some trouble at the Head of the Lake – this horse isn’t turning easily for him today. Tim Price to start shortly!

1.01 p.m.

Matt Flynn and Wizzerd head out to tackle their debut five-star.

12.58 p.m.

Waylon and Lancaster cruise down to the Hollow. Waylon is having to take a few big pulls but it comes off for him.

12.57 p.m.

Waylon Roberts and Lancaster are jumping through the first water now for Canada.

12.56 p.m. 

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 great through the Hollow – they don’t take any risks on that turn.

12.54 p.m. 

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 out now.

12.53 p.m.

WELL DONE ARIEL! Clear with 6 time in her first five-star!

12.51 p.m.

A fall on the flat at the hollow for Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges. They slip at the same point Piggy and Red did.

12.47 p.m.

Well THAT was the strangest flag situation I’ve ever seen – Ariel Grald quite literally takes the flag with her!

Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre home clear now.

12.43 p.m.

Leslie and Voltaire de Tre add an S bend to the direct route at the Head of the Lake. They’re clear through it.

12.41 p.m.

Five-star first-timers Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan head out on course.

12.40 p.m.

Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre zoom through the Rolex Grand Slam combination. This is a level debut for the ten-year-old, so Leslie will be aiming to give him a great education for the future.

12.39 p.m.

Argh! 20 penalties at the Head of the Lake for Erin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy.

12.37 p.m.

Will Coleman and Tight Lines are our first to come back inside the time! He’s showing as clear for now, but hold tight – we may see the penalties appear soon.

12.36 p.m.

Piggy with Jenni now: “It wasn’t without events, was it? Just not at the races for him today like he has been of late, but that’s horses, and you take the days you’re given. It was hard enough work – there was plenty of little mishaps. He did the quarry at the top really well, so I did the turn really tight – he slipped, I nearly fell off, and my stirrup nearly fell off. My spur was stuck and I knew it would fall off if I took just one backward swipe. I thought, I’m not going round with one stirrup! Then, when I went to gallop, he was just a bit sticky, so I had to trot and make sure he was okay… he had a spook coming into the wash-off area so he’s still got plenty in him. I’m not proud of that round.”

12.31 p.m.

Will Coleman and Tight Lines will definitely pick up flag penalties – they have an awkward jump at 11A, the skinny in the water, and scramble over the side of the fence.

12.27 p.m.

Will Coleman and Tight Lines head out. This Thoroughbred really covers the ground and makes a lovely shape over the Triple Bar.

12.25 p.m.

We can confirm that Buck has broken his collarbone – he’s withdrawn both his remaining horses. Heal up quick, Buck!

12.24 p.m.

Marcelo Tosi and Glenfly on course now. Dom Schramm goes long at the Hollow.

12.23 p.m.

Piggy holds the lead – just! She finishes on a new score of 33.5. Would have made the time easily without the water wobbles and the long trot – Piggy has really had to dig deep today. They lead at this stage.

12.20 p.m.

A refusal at 3 for Dom Schramm and Bolytair B. Piggy is up on the clock somehow – Red has been very sticky at every water. She lands nearly in walk again at the final water – she’s near the end now!

12.18 p.m.

AHHHH. Red leaves a leg at the final brush into the Head of the Lake, they scramble over and land in walk. Piggy cleverly uses an S bend to get out without crossing her tracks.

12.17 p.m.

WHAT IS HAPPENING. Piggy will lose a lot of time – something happened as she slipped after the corner. Red loses his right hind – his quarters touch the ground and Piggy nearly hits the deck, but they recover. They spend a lot of time in trot afterwards as Piggy looks for something – a lost stirrup? Lauren finishes, but there is a BIG flag question for her. 30 seconds over OT for them.

12.17 p.m.

Dom Schramm and Bolytair B are away!

12.16 p.m.

Bit of a chip at the water for Pig and Red but they’re through!

12.15 p.m.

John Kyle just brought up the corners at Belton and now I’ve got PTSD. Flags! They haunt my nightmares.

12.14 p.m.

GREAT ride through the hollow for Lauren and Paramount Importance!

12.12 p.m.

Quarrycrest Echo and Piggy are on course now.

#GETTINGPIGGYWITHIT

12.09 p.m.

Piggy French and Quarrycrest Echo will be starting shortly. Shout out to Red’s owner, Jayne McGivern, who is a jolly good egg.

12.08 p.m.

Lovely round so far for Lauren Kieffer and the former Ludwig Svennerstal mount, Paramount Importance.

Also, can we talk about Daniela Moguel’s face glitter? V 90s. Possibly v blinding on course. We stan a sparkly kween.

12.07 p.m.

“I’m on cloud nine – he was absolutely incredible and so honest everywhere,” says Chris Talley. “To come jump around like that here, at Kentucky, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I think [my grandmother] would be so proud – she rode along with me every jump of the way.”

LOVE.

12.05 p.m.

Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me added 20.8 time. Caroline Martin and Danger Mouse are withdrawn, so that’s one mystery solved. #WheresCaroline

12.04 p.m.

Chris Talley giving me gastrointestinal concerns at the Head of the Lake. He’s finished now – he and Unmarked Bills are clear with 16.4 time.

12.02 p.m.

Dani Moguel rode around that course with a broken rib. Eventers: a very special kind of nuts.

12.01 p.m.

Buck Davidson has scratched Jak My Style. Caroline Martin and Danger Mouse ostensibly lost on course. Where is Caroline?!

12.00 p.m.

Bloody hell, Chris Talley just made my stomach flip at the Head of the Lake! Stand by to see what I mean.

11.58 a.m.

Someone just SCREAMED “I love you!” at Chris Talley as he jumped through the Moguls.

11.57 a.m.

Bit of a hairy ride at Pete’s Hollow, the table and corner combination at 13AB, for Unmarked Bills and Chris Talley. The horse doesn’t see the corner until the last second, but they rally and get it done. Phew!

11.55 a.m.

Lisa Marie goes long at the Normandy Bank complex – a slightly sticky jump out of the final element.

11.53 a.m. 

10.8 time to add for Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon. Chris Talley on course now with Unmarked Bills.

11.50 a.m.

Ellen and Sir Oberon are another pair to go long at the Normandy Bank combination. Lisa Marie and Honor Me add through the Grand Slam combination but get it done.

11.48 a.m.

Ellen and Sir Oberon go long in the lake after a disorganised jump in. Good judgment there.

11.47 a.m.

Daniela Moguel is ZOOMING at the end of the course – they add 21.6 time due to their earlier run-out, but they finish brilliantly. A great round to set them up for their next run at the top level.

11.46 a.m.

“It rode great – it’s a big, challenging track, and it’s never easy when you’re going early and a bunch of people have had problems. I’m kicking myself now, though – I set himself up a bit too much. I’ve got to trust myself to kick at the end of the course when he’s feeling a bit tired,” says Will Faudree. “There’s homework to do.”

11.45 a.m.

Ellen and Sir Oberon are clear so far – now Canada’s Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me are on course.

11.42 a.m.

A slow clear for Will Faudree and Pfun – they pick up 15.2 time penalties. Daniela Moguel and Cecelia add in an extra stride at the Mighty Moguls.

11.39 a.m.

Will Faudree opts to go long at the Normandy Bank with Pfun. They have a nice trip through. Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon are next to start.

11.38 a.m.

6.4 time and 20 jumping for Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford as they cross the finish.

11.36 a.m.

Mexico’s sole entry here, Daniela Moguel, picks up 20 penalties early on course at 5A, the hanging log into the first water, with Cecelia.

11.35 a.m.

Will Faudree pushes a flag out with Pfun – we’ll have to see whether that affects his score. The most fun bit of the flag rule is that NOBODY KNOWS. It’s like doing the lucky dip at the fair and discovering that all the prizes are actually turds.

11.34 a.m.

Ahh. They’ve won at five-star twice, but they won’t win this week – Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford pick up 20 penalties coming out of the lake. They clear the hedge on the second attempt and then go long at the Normandy Bank.

11.33 a.m.

Clear round for Lillian and LCC Barnaby! 9.2 time for them. Will Faudree and Pfun are on course now too.

11.32 a.m.

“He was great – we had a few problems at the beginning where he was overexcited and I couldn’t manage the distances, but he jumped sometimes unbelievable. He fighted [sic] for me and I fighted for him, and he was amazing,” says a delighted (and adorably Swiss) Felix Vogg.

11.31 a.m.

Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford clear as they approach the halfway point – we’re seeing their experience in some of the risks Hazel is choosing to take.

11.30 a.m.

Our fastest round of the day! Joe Meyer and Johnny Royale add 2.8 time penalties. ZOOM ZOOM BABY

11.29 a.m.

Allie Sacksen, as it turns out, got annoyed by her stopwatch and chucked it out mid-course – good souvenir for someone!

11.27 a.m.

“I hit my head pretty heard and my neck’s really sore, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m obviously really disappointed – I was thinking he didn’t feel like my horse today. We’ll get him checked out, but I feel terrible for tipping him up,” says Liz Halliday-Sharp.

11.26 a.m.

Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby are on course now – and they’re followed by two-time Adelaide winners Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford.

11.25 a.m.

At the point on course where every other horse starts to tire, Johnny Royale just keeps on giving 110%. Thoroughbreds, eh!

11.23 a.m.

Felix and Colero are our fastest combination so far – they add 6.4 time penalties. Joe Meyer and Johnny Royale make light work of the lake.

11.17 a.m.

Felix and Colero aren’t wasting a single second! Definitely our fastest round so far as they hit the eighth minute. Joe Meyer and Johnny Royale join them on course.

11.16 a.m.

ARGH. A run-out at the step up out of the water for Hallie Coon and Celien, and then another one as they represent. Hallie opts to retire.

11.15 a.m.

Hallie and Celien’s time has been adjusted to reflect the fact that she was started slightly late. Here’s an example of some of the stickability we’ve been witnessing.

11.13 a.m.

Felix and Colero are motoring along. This is Felix’s last competition in the States, and he’s going to want to make a jolly good show of it.

11.12 a.m.

Wow, we are seeing some serious stickability from Hallie in places. She’s a great cross-country rider with natural balance. I’m not sure I’ve breathed since she left the start box, though.

11.11 a.m.

MAKE A WISH.

Felix Vogg now on course. Celien looking a bit sticky for Hallie Coon, but Hallie is getting it done.

11.07 a.m.

Harbour Pilot has made Hannah Sue work for it today, but they’re home clear with just 8 time penalties to add. Big smiles at the finish!

11.06 a.m.

Hallie Coon and Celien come forward for their second run at this level. Celien is one of only four mares here this week, and she’s on great form this season.

11.05 a.m.

“My goal here this weekend was to come home with clean jumping, and he did that. I was coming to the start box and I heard rider fall, rider fall, rider fall – I just thought, oh my goodness!” says a teary Allie Sacksen.

11.03 a.m.

Another clear round with time for Sara Gumbiner and Polaris! How fun to see these two deliver again. This will be a very proud moment for Polaris’ breeder, Phyllis Dawson, too. #plugplugplug #TeamWindchase4evz

11.oo a.m.

Here’s a little taster of Allie’s fab round. LOVE this plucky pony!

10.59 a.m.

CLEAR for Allie Sacksen and Sparrow’s Nio! They’re over a minute over the time but that’s exactly the round they needed. Allie is sobbing with joy as she pulls up. What a great sight to see!

10.58 a.m.

Harbour Pilot really knocks the table at 7A, slips on the turn to the B element, but recovers and gets through the combination.

10.56 a.m.

Allie Sacksen and Sparrow’s Nio are our first combination to make it past the Normandy Bank combination at 20ABC! They look great through their and pop nicely through the final water.

10.55 a.m.

Mara DePuy has withdrawn Congo Brazzaville C. Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot on course now.

10.54 a.m. 

Really positive riding through the water for Allie Sacksen – she makes light work of the step up and brush out of the water.

10.52 a.m.

Sara Gumbiner away now with Polaris – this is the bit where this pair really shine. Larry is 17.2hh and seriously covers the ground – the polar opposite of small and nippy Nio.

10.51 a.m.

Allie and Sparrow’s Nio looking great so far – they’re in the last section of the course now.

10.47 a.m. 

Allie Sacksen and her plucky Connemara cross Sparrow’s Nio on course now. This pair know one another so well and are so fun to watch!

10.46 a.m. 

Buck is back up on his feet. He looks as though he got a bit winded from that fall.

10.45 a.m.

YIKES. Buck is off too. He drifts left at the Normandy Bank and is tips out the side door.

10.43 a.m.

What is life?! Liz Halliday-Sharp has taken a tumble at fence three, while Buck Davidson has a run-out at the brush after the step up out of the water. I have aged horribly in the past three minutes.

10.41 a.m.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z are now on course. They’ll be looking to make a few steps closer to that coveted spot at the top of the leaderboard!

10.40 a.m.

ARGH! Caroline hits the deck at the Normandy Bank. She’s up and walking off course – both she and Islandwood Captain Jack are okay.

10.39 a.m.

Another flag out for Caroline – it looks fine to us, but as we all know, the FEI’s new flag rule is proving to be contentious. This may go to a footage review.

10.37 a.m.

Buck Davidson heads out on course with the first of his three rides – this is Park Trader. They jump into the Mars Sustainability Bay and make it look like a Pony Club question.

10.35 a.m.

A BIG pull before the second water from Caroline – she brings Islandwood Captain Jack nearly back to a trot and then really asks him to bend through the lines. It won’t be the quickest approach, but it’s certainly the safest and the most educational. Smart riding for this horse’s future.

10.33 a.m.

Caroline gets better and better each year. Island wood Captain Jack takes out much of the brush – and a flag – at the first brush box at 7B, the first big combo on course, but Caroline just stays right in the middle of him and lets him find his balance.

10.00 a.m.

And she’s off! Caroline Martin storms out of the start on Islandwood Captain Jack. This horse is a debutante here, but Caroline will need to keep his cruising speed up early on – the first minute is one of the only quick minutes our competitors will get.

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