American-transplant Felix Vogg and Jürgen Vogg’s Colero have marched right up to the very front of the pack at the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by MARS Equestrian.
Leaders at the lunch break, no one in the afternoon session could touch the 10-year-old Westphalian’s (Captain Fire X Bonia, Bormio xx) score of 28. Looking forward to the jumping phases, he’s in a favorable position as the last seven winners here have all had a sub-30 dressage score.
In addition to dreams of being the first Swiss rider to win Kentucky, a top finish here for Felix would be the ultimate cherry on top of his American adventure. “I move back to Germany next week, and this was the final thing you can do here in America. It’s one of the biggest events in the world. I always wanted to ride here,” Felix said.
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z were easy favorites coming into this event as Liz has been on a serious hot streak with 10 wins in 2019 so far.
Today’s score of 30.9 pops just above their only other score at this level (29.8, Luhmühlen 2018), which Liz attributes to the flying changes, which have always been a nemesis of sorts for Ocala Horse Properties and The Deniro Z Syndicate’s 11-year-old KWPN gelding (Zapatero VDL X Zonne- Trend, by French Buffet xx).
“I was really pleased with Deniro Z. This is his first time at Kentucky. It’s never easy being third to go and so early on. I felt he gave me everything he had,” Liz said. “I was a little disappointed with the score if I’m being honest. He does struggle with the flying changes. I had hoped we’d done enough to get into the high 20s. He gave me everything. He was perfect in the atmosphere.”
Buck Davidson delivered two top five performances with third-placed Park Trader and fifth-placed Jak My Style, respectively.
Park Trader, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Master Imp x Ballyhast Polly, by Highland King) owned by Carl and Cassie Segal, earned a personal best score of 32.1 to sit third in his eighth CCI5*-L start.
Five-star first-timer Jak My Style, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Kathleen and Roberto Cuca, followed in his stablemate’s example to earn a score of 34. “Jak” has a colorful backstory — that’s the nice way to say he’s bucked a lot of people off! — and you can read all about it in our preview. Buck is the only rider in the competition with three horses; he will ride Copper Beach tomorrow.
“[Park Trader] did as well as he can possibly do. He did all four changes and he made no mistakes. Maybe a little bit later (in the order), and he’d be on a better score, but I’m very happy with the score and I’m not disappointed to be on 32 going into the next phase,” Buck said.
“One thing I can say about all three horses: they compete. They give you their best in the ring, and when the lights shine they show up.”
Hallie Coon and Celien, 12-year-old KWPN (Tenerife VDL x R Quicksilver, by Hamelt), who is owned by Hallie and Helen Coon, rose to the meet their first Kentucky challenge today, securing sixth place on a score of 32.7.
“It felt amazing. It’s an atmosphere unlike any other. I’ve done a five-star before, but Pau wasn’t quite like this. I was really happy with how she kept her cool in there and I was just generally really pleased. It was a great experience,” Hallie said.
Will Faudree and Daniela Moguel share sixth place on an identical score of 35.4.
Will rides Pfun, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Tadmus x Celerina, by Cento) owned by Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables.
Mexico’s Daniela, who is battling a broken rib this week, is riding her World Equestrian Games partner, Cecelia, a 16-year-old Thoroughbred (Connecticut x Penny Stock, by Spend A Buck) owned by Paloma Garcia and Jorge Eduardo Martinez Castrejon.
We have another tie between eighth-placed Caroline Martin and Ellen Doughty-Hume on a score of 36.2.
Caroline earned this score aboard Danger Mouse, an 11-year-old Warmblood owned by Caroline and Sherrie Martin, and Ellen rides her own and Alistair Hume’s Sir Oberon, a 17-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred (HQ Outrigger x Cher) as she aims for a fifth five-star completion here at Kentucky.
Allie Sacksen sits 10th with her own Sparrow’s Nio, a 16-year-old Connemara/Thoroughbred (Grange Finn Sparrow x JB), on a personal best of 36.7.
EN’s data analyst Maggie Deatrick has been madly crunching numbers all day, and she’s reporting that today’s scores have hovered on the high range, an average of 2.19 points higher than expected. The morning section was a bit more skewed at 2.57 points above expected and the afternoon session was 1.85 points above.
On average, the ground jury of Christina Klingspor (SWE), Martin Plewa (GER) and Mark Weissbecker (USA) differed an average of 3.55%. They agreed most on both Hallie Coon and Celien and Joe Meyer and Johnny Royale’s tests (1.93%), and differed most on Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z with 7.69% difference.
Don’t miss Maggie’s continued analysis tomorrow on EN’s Twitter.
Looking ahead to the rest of the competition, Derek di Grazia has laid out an impressive cross country track that all the riders agreed will ride much harder than it walks. Take a peek at a fence-by-fence preview at this link.
Felix is thankful to be sitting on a fit horse after walking the many undulations across the Kentucky Horse Park.
“It looks like a nice course. I think for my horse there is more adjusting as (the terrain) goes up and down,” he said. “It’s more fitness work that probably someone thinks. I just saw last year that the fitter horse the better. Every five-star is challenging but I think especially here you need a fit horse.”
Liz believes the course should suit Deniro in his second five-star appearance saying, “I always love Derek’s courses. I think he’s a brilliant course designer. He always brings something different and I think he’s done that again this year. He tries to keep you guessing a little bit.” Liz said
“I think it will be interesting to ride Deniro here because his first five-star was at Luhmühlen which is very, very twisty through the trees, and this is a much more open, galloping track that will I hope reward a big, bold jumping horse, which is what he is.”
Buck added: “To me its deceivingly hilly here from the start box all the way to the quarry. Then you get a minute downhill on the way to the lake, but then you go back up hill, and it lulls you in the beginning to thinking it’s a big galloping track, but then it’s very technical at the end. It will be interesting just to find out how tired they get because you need some energy at the end of course. There’s a lot of jumping at the end — maybe more so than the beginning.”
We’re back underway with dressage tomorrow starting at 10 a.m. with Lauren Kieffer and Paramount Importance first in the ring. Watch all the action live at USEF Network.
Keep it locked right here for all the latest from the #BestWeekendAllYear. Go Eventing.