Show Jumping Powerhouses of Kentucky

It’s the final day of Kentucky, our servers are fried, our chinchillas are hysterical, and yet coverage soldiers on.

After a very dramatic final horse inspection this morning, the stage is set for a four-peat. fischerRocana FST has her work cut out for her though, as there are four other horses within a rail of the top placing, and every one of them is capable of jumping a clear round. They are also all capable of having a rail, or even two. Meanwhile there are a couple of excellent jumpers in the remainder of the top ten ready to pounce. It will all come down to who can handle the pressure in this moment.


Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Michael Jung (GER) and fischerRocana FST

Pros: fischerRocana FST jumped clear at the CCI3* European Championships last summer in her latest CCI start, and she has more practice than any horse in the field at jumping when stadium is the final phase; all of her 3* and 4* starts save one have run in the traditional order.

Cons: The one chink in this pair’s armor is famously the stadium phase. In seven CCI4* completions, they’ve jumped clear only twice, once at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy and then again en route to winning Kentucky for the first time in 2015. Since then Rocana has had one rail in every single 4* completion, and even had two down at Pau in 2016. She was also held at the jog this morning, so there’s a chance she isn’t feeling 100%.

Prediction: One rail

Chris Burton and Nobilis 18. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Chris Burton (AUS) and Nobilis 18

Pros: This pair have jumped clear in four of their eight 3/4* starts, and also jumped clear at the horse’s first CCI3* at Blenheim in 2015. Chris Burton has also publicly stated that he thinks this horse will prefer a flat surface on footing for the final phase.

Cons: Nobilis 18 famously won Burghley in 2016 despite a mind-boggling four rails, initiating the call for the drop of the dressage coefficient. The rules have now changed and rails are more costly. When this pair has rails, they have two or more, and they’ve had rails (plural) in two of three rounds when stadium was last. And indications are that Nobilis 18 may not be feeling 100% today, as he was held at the jogs this morning.

Prediction: Two rails

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Master Class

Pros: Cooley Master Class has jumped clear in eight of his eleven starts, including jumping clear in six of his last seven starts stretching back through 2016.

Cons: Every one of those starts was a CIC3*, with show jumping prior to cross country. In their only CCI3* run, which is also the only time the horse jumped stadium last, Cooley Master Courage had a rare rail. This is not only the horse’s first CCI4*, but it is also his first CCI start since 2014. He made the time yesterday, so there’s a possibility he might not have much left in the tank for today.

Prediction: One rail

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lynn Symansky (USA) and Donner

Pros: Donner and Lynn have show jumped clear at this venue before, accomplishing the feat in their very first attempt at the level. They also own the tie breaker between Donner and MHS King Joules, as they finished one second closer to optimum time.

Cons: That was way back in 2013, and since then they’ve completed seven more four stars, five with one rail and two with two rails. This pair can also incur costly time penalties on occasion, although they do complete the course inside the time more often than not.

Prediction: One rail

Oliver Townend and MHS King Joules. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Oliver Townend (GBR) and MHS King Joules

Pros: MHS King Joules has only once had rails in his career with Oliver Townend, jumping clean in four of five starts with this rider. He has also jumped clear at the CCI3* level, although this will be his first stadium round at this level.

Cons: The only time this horse had rails was at his second CCI3* with Oliver, incurring two rails at Bramham in 2016. He also hasn’t run a CCI since 2016, so like Oliver’s other horse, any lack of fitness may work against him today.

Prediction: Clear



Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous

Pros: In ten rounds at the 3/4* level, they have only once ever incurred a rail. That includes a clear CCI4* round at Luhmuhlen last summer as well. Marilyn Little is a show jumper first, eventer second; she even jumped in the Grand Prix this weekend on her jumper, pulling double duty.

Cons: The only rail RF Scandalous has ever had came after a grueling CIC3* round in the mud at Jersey Fresh last spring. The mare emptied her tank yesterday; if she has a rail today, that may indicate she’s a bit tired.

Prediction: Clear round

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Boyd Martin (USA) and Tsetserleg

Pros: This horse is clearly a one or none horse; he’s had no more than a rail in any of his 3* starts. He’s jumped clear in three of his five 3* starts when stadium was last, including one of his two CCI3* starts.

Cons: He’s overall more inclined to have a rail than not at the 3* level. Tsetserleg has also had a rail at each of his two 2018 CIC3* starts. This is his first 4* stadium round, leaving us a bit in unknown territory.

Prediction: One rail

Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Phillip Dutton (USA) and Z

Pros: Like RF Scandalous, Z is a jumping machine, with only one rail marring his otherwise perfect jump record. He’s never had a rail at a CCI3* and he’s never had a rail in four rounds when stadium was last.

Cons: This is his first 4* and Phillip worked hard to keep this horse jumping clean and coming home inside the time yesterday. A make-it-happen round can take a lot out of a horse and today the fitness factor of the extra minute on cross country will come into play.

Prediction: Clear round

Sharon White and Cooley On Show. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Sharon White (USA) and Cooley On Show

Pros: Cooley On Show is another one or none horse, who in fourteen stadium rounds at the 3/4* levels has never had more than a rail. He’s perfectly split 50/50; half of his rounds are clear and half have a rail.

Cons: He’s had a rail at each of his three CCI3/4* completions.

Prediction: One rail


Cooley Cross Border will almost certainly jump a clear round and could be the first to do so in the order, although Share Option has a good chance to steal the honor away. There also are quite a few one or none horses sitting just inside the top fifteen, including Copper Beach, Wembley, and Banderas.

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