Considering Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST started their show jumping round at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event with four rails in hand, it’s hardly surprising that they clinched a repeat victory. With one rail down, they took the win for a second year in a row, finishing on a final score of 39.2.
Not only were Michael and “Roxie” the only pair to finish in the 30s, but no other combinations finished in the 40s either, and the next best finishing score of 52.5 came from Lauren Kieffer and Veronica to crown them the USEF National CCI4* Champions for a second time. To say Michael terminated the competition is an understatement.
Michael now heads to Badminton next week with La Biosthetique Sam FBW, who finished second at that event in 2013. If Michael and Sam can win there, he’ll become the second rider in history to win the Rolex Grand Slam, which awards $350,000 to a rider who wins Rolex, Badminton and Burghley in any consecutive order.
Pippa Funnell remains the only rider to have taken the hat trick, winning the Grand Slam in 2003 with victories at Rolex and Burghley with Primmore’s Pride and at Badminton with Supreme Rock. We’ve already seen Michael win gold medals at every major eventing championships in the world, and now we just might see him make history once more.
As for the rest of the final leaderboard, we’re beaming with pride tonight for the next two finishers. After taking the USEF National CCI4* Championship in 2014 with Team Rebecca’s Veronica, Lauren and “Troll” jumped one of a handful of clear show jumping rounds to move up from sixth to take the title again, finishing in second on 52.5.
And just as EN’s data analyst Maggie Deatrick predicted, Maya Black and Dawn Dofelmier’s Doesn’t Play Fair continued to make the case that they are a serious combination for the future of U.S. eventing, pulling one rail to move up to third place on 53.9. Click here to see what Michael, Lauren and Maya had to see in the final press conference.
U.S. riders took eight of the top 10 spots on the final leaderboard, but only Lauren and Veronica jumped a clear round out of all of them. It wasn’t so much that Richard Jeffery’s course was especially difficult, but horses were definitely tired after yesterday’s massive effort in the rain around Derek di Grazia’s beefy cross country course.
Just a slim 12 percent of the field jumped clear show jumping rounds, and only four managed to jump clear and also make the optimum time of 92 seconds: Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch (19th), Lillian Heard and Share Option (24th), CCI4* first-timers Kurt Martin and DeLux Z (25th), and Blyth Tait and Xanthus III (44th).
In addition to Lauren and Veronica, two other pairs jumped clear with time penalties. Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot jumped a beautiful round with 2 time penalties to finish 15th, and Courtney Cooper and her homebred Who’s A Star jumped clear with 6 time penalties to finish 50th in their four-star debut.
While all but three horses and riders in the top 20 had rails, that doesn’t mean we didn’t see promising show jumping performance. Boyd Martin piloted the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate’s Blackfoot Mystery to a one-rail round to move up from 34th after dressage to finish in sixth on 59.6 as the highest-placed off-track Thoroughbred.
Elisa Wallace and the Simply Priceless Syndicate’s Simply Priceless pulled five rails in their Rolex debut last year, and when they pulled just one rail today to finish in eighth place on 60.8, the crowd went absolutely wild. Tim Bourke and his own Luckuan Quality also had one rail down and added 1 time penalty to move up from 44th after dressage to finish in 11th on 67.3.
Looking to the other top spots on the leaderboard, Phillip Dutton took fourth and fifth places with Mighty Nice and Fernhill Cubalawn, respectively, after having a tough day in Rolex Stadium. Mighty Nice had two rails down to finish on 57.8, and Fernhill Cubalawn had one down to finish on 59.4. Fernhill Fugitive, who started the day in second place, pulled five rails to finish in 13th on 68.5.
Mark Todd and his 2012 London Olympic partner NZB Campino dropped one rail to finish in seventh place on 60.4. Buck Davidson and Petite Flower had two down to finish ninth on 60.9, giving us three mares to finish in the top 10. Fan favorites Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville had one down to finish 10th on 64.4.
As EN predicted, Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF finished the competition as the highest placed Rolex Rookies, adding four rails and four additional time penalties to place 21st on 76.5. Congratulations to Matt, Cecily, the Blossom Creek Foundation and the whole team behind “Flaxen” for this achievement.
Here are more facts and figures courtesy of John:
- Richard Jeffery’s show jumping course allowed just seven of 54 pairs to jump clear. Only four pairs finished the show jumping double clear: Blyth Tait and Xanthus III, Kurt Martin and DeLux Z, Lillian Heard and Share Option, and Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch.
- The highest placed finishers with a double clear in the show jumping were Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch, moving up eight places and finishing in 19th.
- Kurt Martin and DeLux Z moved up the most places in the show jumping, rising 11 spots to 25th.
- Seven of the top 10 pairs heading into the show jumping went on to finish in the top 10.
- Only one top 10 pair going into the show jumping jumped clear: Lauren Kieffer and Veronica.
- Blyth Tait and Xanthus III were the only one international pair to jump clear today.
- Just 25 of 54 (46 percent) pairs finished without show jumping time penalties.
- Phillip Dutton finished two horses inside the Rolex top 10 for the second straight year. Boyd finished one horse in the top 10 for the second straight year.
- Think Rolex is a dressage competition? Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery moved up from 34th after the dressage to finish in sixth by adding just 7.6 penalties on the weekend.
- Michael Jung’s final score was 0.5 points better than the second placed pair after the dressage, Allison Springer and Arthur.
- No pairs finished on their dressage score.
- Fifty-four of 71 starting pairs completed the weekend.
- Only one pair finished the weekend in the 30s. Zero pairs finished the weekend in the 40s, and only five pairs finished the weekend in the 50s.
- The U.S. finished with eight pairs in the top 10. New Zealand continued its strong record at Rolex with two pairs in the top 14. Five countries finished at least two pairs: the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Great Britain.
Relive all the show jumping action in EN’s open thread at this link, stay tuned for a full show jumping photo gallery from the fabulous Leslie Threlkeld, and click here to catch up on all our #RK3DE coverage. Thank you SO much to all of you for following along with the EN team all weekend. Go Eventing.