The Rolex leader board is tightly packed going into the weekend; 18 horses are within 10 points of the lead, and 38 horses are within 10 points of 10th place. We saw some good dressage tests, but nobody was brilliant. This reminds me much more of Rolex 2007 and 2008 dressage, where the leaders scored a 47.0 and a 39 respectively, than last year when Bettina (28.8) and Lucinda (32.3) ran away from the pack.
(1)William and Cool mountain scored a 42.8 on Friday afternoon to take the Rolex lead from Karen and Allison. William displayed his tremendous skill throughout the dressage ride, and especially in the canter work. Cool Mountain’s frame is pretty open, and his natural carriage is not as uphill as any of the other top 10 horses, but William rode a very precise test and emphasized the trot work, Cool Mountain’s best gait. At nearly six and a half feet tall, William always sits so elegantly, and Cool Mountain presented a much better picture to the judges today with such an elegant rider on board.
(2) Also riding Friday afternoon, Kim continued her brilliant track record at Kentucky, and she moved into 4th place with Tipperary Liadhnan on a 44.8. In 2008, Kim and Paddy finished Rolex in 5th place after sitting in 16th after the dressage on a 54.6. Always a force to be reckoned with at Kentucky, Kim is in a great position going into the weekend.
(3)Oliver Townend is looking solid after a 46.2 on Ashdale Cruise Master puts them into 6th going into the weekend. Oliver and OTD Master Rose are in 9th with a 49.8.
(4)Phillip has withdrawn Kheops Du Quesnay from Rolex. I haven’t had a chance to talk with anyone about that because I just realized it during the live blog this afternoon. Phillip and Kheops would have been tied for 27th place.
(5) Kelly Prather took Ballinakill Glory into the main arena right after the last ride to give the horse a good school after their extremely tough dressage ride this morning.
Notes from Friday morning:
(1)Allison and Arthur had a lovely test to tie Karen and Mandiba with a 43.7 atop the Rolex leader-board. A few 5’s in the walk work held the score back somewhat but it was 7’s and 8’s for most of the test. Arthur was a little spooky before entering the dressage arena, but he pulled himself together and showed off his lovely gaits. Allison showed her growing experience by being patient and letting Arthur take his time with each stride, which allowed him to move in his best rhythm and reach.
Allison rode in a helmet rather than a top hat for dressage, showing her support for riders wearing helmets at all times. This gesture bucked convention but set a great example for the many [people] watching her ride today. I tip my cap helmet to Allison.
Update: According to Samantha Clark’s Twitter, “Allison Springer wore her helmet today to honour her brother who died as a result of serious head injury & her best friend who survived one.”
(2) Phillip jumped into 5th place aboard Woodburn with a 47.7. Woodburn displayed good movement, but the walk work and flying changes hurt their score. Just 4 points behind Karen and Allison, Woodburn puts a lot of pressure on those two for Saturday.
(3)Oliver Townend and ODT Master Rose let a few small technical mistakes mar what was an otherwise nice test and they are sitting 6th on a 49.8 after 3/4 of the dressage here at Rolex.
(4) Several of the horses were really affected by KHP main arena atmosphere. Friday’s crowd is about twice the size of Thursday’s. Kelly Prather and Ballinakill Glory had a disastrous test as “Pippa” spooked, stopped, jumped, ran sideways, and threw her head around nearly 20 times throughout her test. The crowd willed Kelly on, and Kelly did a super job of holding things together. At the end of the test, the crowd gave the loudest and longest cheer of of the afternoon to recognize Kelly’s effort, and Kelly left the ring with a smile. Some days just go that way, and it’s time to move on to thinking XC for that pair. Hollywood and Estrella also seemed very tense, and High Patriot’s score was lower than I expected from what looked like tension in the canter work.
(5)The KHP is currently under a “brown-out” which means that most of the electrical power is either out or under reduced strength. The scoreboard and apparently the live online feed cut out toward the end of the dressage rides. The KHP personnel are scrambling to get things back under full power, but I haven’t heard any sort of a timeframe.
Thank you everyone for joining our llive blog this morning. We will have more live blogging this afternoon. If I don’t get around to responding to some of your comments, it’s because I didn’t see them between watching the ride and my typing.