The entry deadline for the 2023 renewal of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event came around yesterday, and when I first glanced at the final line-up early this morning, you could have knocked me down with a feather, frankly: it’s arguably one of the most exciting fields I’ve ever seen at this event, and with 53 entries (spanning five countries!), it’s also one of the plumpest lists, too.
So what’s changed since we last took a peek at the line-up? Well, most notably, we’ll see the return of Great Britain’s Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir, who made their first trip over in 2022, finishing second on what was the horse’s five-star debut — and then, of course, they went on to Pratoni, where they became the World Champions. Can the 25-year-old ride the wave from Italy all the way to her first career five-star win? It’d be hard to bet against them — but they’ll face stiff competition even just from within their home camp. Tom McEwen will be bringing JL Dublin, reigning European Champion with Nicola Wilson, for a crack at the title — and considering they finished their first CCI4*-L together at Boekelo in second place, on the same finishing score as the winners, we’ll be expecting a huge performance from them in all three phases and a very likely podium finish.
Speaking of the British camp, we’ve now got an entry in situ from Oliver Townend, who’s won here three times (2018, 2019, 2021). He’ll bring just one horse this year: 13-year-old British-bred Tregilder, who was seventh in the pop-up five-star at Bicton in 2021 on his debut at the level, but had a rather more abortive Burghley last year, taking a disappointing late tumble at a single fence. ‘Til then, though, he’d looked a picture, and for Oliver to pop him on a plane suggests he’s feeling on very good form indeed — though Oliver has also entered him at Badminton. Likewise, Zara Tindall‘s Class Affair had a tough Burghley last year, but redeemed himself with a 12th-place finish at Boekelo the following month — a return to form that could bode well for his first Kentucky.
Elsewhere on the eight-strong British line-up are three very good combinations who’ve cross-entered for both Kentucky and Badminton: David Doel is on the list with Galileo Nieuwmoed, who was sixth at Badminton last year and led after cross-country at Pau, ultimately finishing fourth, and a winner last week in Kronenberg’s CCI4*-S; Kirsty Chabert has entered her Luhmühlen runner-up Classic VI; and William Fox-Pitt brings forward debutante Grafennacht, who makes a welcome return to international competition after sitting out the 2022 season.
Germany now boasts a small but perfectly-formed line-up of two powerhouse riders on first-time five-star horses: former World Champion Sandra Auffarth will bring her 2022 Aachen winner and Olympic partner Viamant du Matz for a crack at the title, and she’ll be joined for the trip over by 22-year-old Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26, with whom she competed as an individual at last year’s World Championships and has contested several Junior and Young Rider European Championships. They finished third in one of the most competitive four-star line-ups we’ve ever seen at Haras du Pin last year, and a top ten finish here certainly isn’t a far-fetched idea — nor would it hurt their chances of a spot on the German team at this year’s European Championships, also to be held at Haras du Pin.
Sadly, we’ve lost out on an Australian contingent following the withdrawal of ultra-competitive Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam, but we gain a French entry from Maxime Livio and Carouzo Bois Marotin, who were seventh at Pau last year in the gelding’s debut at the level.
Canada will field two entries in the five-star; one from stalwart partnership Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo, who’s coming into the competition as something of a galloping granny at a very fit and fresh nineteen years old, and another from Jessica Phoenix and her charismatic OTTB Wabbit, who was a top twenty finisher at Maryland last fall.
The USA will be giving it a serious crack at the title, which hasn’t gone to the home side since 2008 — but with 40 entries, and some serious strength in depth, they’ve got as good a chance as ever to wrestle it back. We’ve got several riders filling their day with three horses: Will Coleman has entered Aachen winner and Pratoni silver medalist Off the Record, DonDante, who was top ten at both Kentucky and Maryland last season, and the enigmatic and ludicrously talented Chin Tonic HS, who’ll make his five-star debut and probably lead the dressage, too. Liz Halliday-Sharp also comes in on flying form with three very, very good entries in Deniro Z, tenth here in 2021, and debutants Miks Master C, who is on a serious hot streak of form, and Cooley Be Cool, who took the CCI3*-S title at Carolina easily earlier this month. Buck Davidson is always a busy man here, and he continues to be one this year, with three entries in Carlevo, Erroll Golbey, and Sorocaima, while Jennie Saville (nee Brannigan) will ride FE Lifestyle, Stella Artois, and Twilightslastgleam. Tamie Smith will bring forward the excellent Mai Baum, who came achingly close to a win here in 2021; Danito, who makes his Kentucky debut after taking second at Maryland last year; and Elliot V, who makes his five-star debut.
There’s two double entries, too: Boyd Martin will ride his World Championships partner Tsetserleg TSF and debutant Contessa, while Lauren Nicholson has Landmark’s Monte Carlo and Vermiculus on the list — though the latter is also entered for Badminton.
In the single-horse entrants, there’s lots to like, too: Allie Knowles and Morswood will add another five-star to their tally of enormously consistent runs; Doug Payne and Quantum Leap will show us all what speed really looks like; crowd favourites Emily Hamel and Corvett will give spectators the Instagram shots they really came for; and Woods Baughman and C’est la Vie 135 will return to their hometown after a swift uptick in form this spring with their eyes on redemption, and, perhaps, another dressage lead at this level.
To check out the entries in full, click here: