Despite an impressive effort by the rest of the field, Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST (Itaugno XX x Rose II) kept a tight grasp on their lead after the dressage portion of the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover. His lead shrank a bit today after some effective riding by many American pairs, but Brigitte and Joachim Jung’s mare still sits 5.4 points ahead of second.
Yesterday “Rocana” earned a dressage score of 34.40, for an easy step in to the lead, and Jung has his eye on the prize going into Derek di Grazia’s cross-country. “It’s a very long trip here, so I’m not coming here to have a nice holiday,” Jung joked. “When I come here I try to win.” But in all seriousness, he says he will carefully watch the course and the weather tomorrow in finalizing how he plans to ride.
“At the moment, [we plan] to go fast. I think my mare is in really good form. She feels very happy and strong, but it can change tomorrow morning,” he explained. “I always have, on every fence, two or three plans. You have to know the alternative if something happens. It’s very important that you have to finish the competition with a healthy horse.”
Allison Springer and Arthur. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo.
Crowd favorites Allison Springer and Arthur (Bradenburg’s Windstar x Kelly) were the only other combination to break into the 30s this weekend, and they head to cross-country on 39.7 penalty points. Springer and The Arthur Syndicate’s Arthur had the very last ride of the day and with a nearly sold out grand stand, the pressure was on, but the 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse rose to the challenge and produced the second best four-star score of his career.
“It’s great to be back [at Rolex Kentucky]. It’s always so emotional and wonderful to be here,” Springer, who hasn’t been at the top of the leaderboard at this event in a few years, commented. This is the pairs’ seventh trip to this event. “He’s tricky, but it brings a tear to my eye to be here and hear the crowd cheer you on.”
Looking onto the next phase of the competition, Springer believes fitness will play the biggest role. “I think, to me, this is probably the more tiring track I’ve seen at Rolex,” she said. “There’s nowhere [on course] to catch your breath and make up time. You have to be smart with your turns and quick away from your fences.” Following the same draw order, Springer will be the last rider out of the start box tomorrow.
Marilyn and RF Demeter.
The next pair on the leaderboard is Marilyn Little and longtime partner RF Demeter (Rubin Royal x Patricia), a 14-year-old Oldenburg Mare. Owned by Jacqueline Mars, Patrick White and Raylyn Farms, “Demi” did not disappoint, scoring a 42.50 for third place after dressage.
Little has lately divided her time between the show jumping and eventing disciplines, so she wasn’t spotted at many of the popular spring prep events, but the pair looked keen as ever for a top finish today on the flat. “I’ve had tests where there were more moments of brilliance, but it was one of her more relaxed test,” Little said. “She wants to be a reliable horse on dressage, and I'd like to carry that relaxation into future tests and bring back a little of the sparkle that I’ve felt before.”
The cross-country will begin tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. with Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive the first out of the start box.
Don't forget to follow the USEA for event coverage on social media!