Rolex Day 1: Katie Ruppel and Houdini Hold Lunch Break Lead

Katie Ruppel and Houdini. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Katie Ruppel and her own Houdini delivered a personal best performance in the sandbox on the first day of dressage this morning at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day event, scoring 46.0 to just edge Rio Olympic bronze medalist Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready for the lead at the lunch break.

Houdini, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Hot Rock X Nacy’s Star), scored 48.3 at Rolex last year, and he shaved two more points off that score today on the way to taking the lead. Bred in West Virginia, “Hewie” is one of 15 Thoroughbreds competing here at Rolex, racing five times before Katie pulled him off the track. You can learn much more about the Thoroughbreds competing at Rolex in this preview.

Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready, a 13-year-old Dutch gelding (Lupicor X Jarva) owned by John and Kristine Norton, scored 46.1 in the horse’s four-star debut to sit in second place. This is the first of three rides for Phillip — Buck Davidson and Jessie Phoenix also have three horses at Rolex — and he’ll be giving the ride back to Kristen Bond after Rolex, as she’s ready to get back to competing after welcoming her second child, a beautiful daughter named Berkley, with her husband Drew.

Will Coleman was over the moon with OBOS O’Reilly (OBOS Quality X Omard Clover Queen) after scoring a personal best of 48.6, a full four marks better than their test in the horse’s CCI4* debut here at Rolex in 2015, to sit tied for third place. They did incur an error for entering the ring late, but that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Oboe, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Four Star Eventing Group, overcame his penchant for nervousness in this phase to deliver a beautiful test.

Boyd Martin and Crackerjack, a 14-year-old New Zealand Sport Horse/Thoroughbred (Aberjack X Santa’s Slave), scored 48.6 to tie Will Coleman and OBOS O’Reilly for third place, just off the pace of their personal best of 47.7 from Pau last fall. Courtney Cooper and her homebred Who’s A Star, a 14-year-old Irish/New Zealand Thoroughbred (Aberjack X I’m A Star), scored 50.0 to round out the top five, just edging their score of 50.9 from their four-star debut at Rolex last year.

In tracking scoring for the dressage phase, the ground jury of Christina Klingspor (SWE), Nick Burton (GBR) and David Lee (IRL) have been nearly bang on our expected averages for these combinations so far today, marking just 0.58 lower overall than expected for the first two sessions.

It’s definitely been an emotional day so far here at Rolex, with Balleynoe Castle RM and his longtime groom Kathleen Blauth Murray performing the test ride ahead of his official retirement ceremony on Sunday. Click here to watch Samantha Clark’s interview with Kathleen after her ride. Rolex Rookie Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna definitely had the loudest and proudest cheering section so far — Go Rookies!

Kathleen just rode the test of her life, & #ballynoecastlerm’s last test in the #rk3de arena #allthefeels

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We still have much more action to come here on the first day of Rolex, and Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High will be the next to go after the lunch break at 1:30 p.m. EST. If you haven’t read Maggie Deatrick’s analysis on the dressage powerhouses of day one, now is a good time to get caught up. We’ll be watching 2016 Pau winners Maxime Livio and Qalao des Mers (2:02), Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus (3:20) and Jessie Phoenix and Pavarotti (3:28).

You can watch live in the U.S. on USEF Network and on FEI TV outside the U.S. If you can’t watch live, be sure to follow along with EN’s open threads presented by SmartPak — click here for our morning open thread — and on Twitter @eventingnation. Be sure to also check our Instagram, where Samantha Clark is posting interviews with the riders as they leave the ring.

If you’re just checking in to EN, click here to catch up on our coverage. Voting for EN’s inaugural Rolex Groom Award is open until 3 p.m. EST, and we also posted our cross country course preview this morning here. Check out a full dressage photo gallery from Leslie Threlkeld — and don’t forget to download the EN app!

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram, Live Scores