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William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain is the 2012 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* champion aboard Catherine Witt’s Parklane Hawk and is also one step closer to winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. The pair were leading before show jumping and added some breathing room after both the second and third place riders had faults during their rounds. William and his Burghley winning mount pulled a rail at the first element of the vertical combination at fence six, but they left the rest of the poles up to take home a shiny new Rolex watch and a cozy $80,000. William will travel home to compete at Badminton next week, and if he wins, he will become the second person to ever claim the “eventing triple crown” and another $350,000.
“Parklane Hawk has been fantastic all week,, but that is the first rail he has had down with me at a three-day,” William said. “This is the closest I have ever gotten to a grand slam. Two four-stars in a row is beyond my dreams, but next week is another week, and I am just going to enjoy the moment. I have two good horses for Badminton, and touch wood they are on good form. You have got to take each step as it comes.”
During the afternoon press conference, William explained that Parklane Hawk raced until he was seven although he was not very good. “He would go out like a rocket and off like a light,” William said. “He still has got that in him. If he doubts, he is off. He is a fantastic galloper and he has got a superb brain. He is a great horse to train; every day is a pleasure with him. You can be down on minute markers but you know that when you put your leg on you can make it up.”
Third place finisher Boyd Martin pointed out that Parklane Hawk is very well bred and closely related to the late Ready Teddy, ridden by Blyth Tait of New Zealand. “Well, I have got no excuse then,” William laughed. “I am just very lucky that Allison took that long route at the third last [on cross-country] aren’t I?”
Allison Springer and her and her parents William and Carolyn Springer’s Arthur did give up their post-dressage lead when they incurred 3.2 time penalties on cross-country. Allison has been working very hard on her show jumping with Arthur and was thrilled to finish with just a single rail over a fence that she says is her own bogie, the square oxer over a liverpool. Had she known how today would have turned out yesterday, she “still would have taken the long route [at the Offset Brushes where she fell last year]. That was my plan and that was the smart thing to do.”
Allison said throughout the week that she has turned her focusing on the process, not the result. Having not been named to any winter training lists, Allison was able to take time to focus on where they needed to improve. The pair is gifted on the flat and bold across the country, but they often fall short on the final day of competition. Working closely with Katie Prudent has turned their show jumping around.
“Four years ago before the Hong Kong Games, I went into show jumping in fifth place. I do not know how many rails I had down; I stopped counting after five,” Allison said. “I have worked very hard. This is a tremendous horse. He was not that easy to produce, but I have had to produce myself, too. I have really worked on his skills and my skills. I was excited to come in the show jump ring. I knew how I had to ride, and I felt confident in my riding what I needed to do. My best was going to have to be good enough.”
As the highest place American rider and subsequent winner of the USEF CCI4* Championship, Allison earned an 18-month lease of a Land Rover Range Rover. “I did not even know it was offered,” she said. That is huge and so very generous.” Arthur himself was honored with the Best Conditioned Horse award.
Boyd Martin and Otis Barbotiere, owned by a syndicate of the same name, were tied for sixteenth after dressage on a score of 51.0. They were one of just seven double-clear rounds across country, which moved them into the fourth place position before show jumping. Out of twenty-seven horses that show jumped, only five were double-clear, and Otis was one. They finished on their dressage score in third place.
Boyd said he took a gamble when he rallied a syndicate to purchase the horse in France in 2010. “I am so happy this horse has confirmed what I thought of him,” Boyd said. “I think he is as good as anything I have had. He is going to be very strong in all three phases. This is a fantastic result for his first four -star.”
Peter Barry of Canada was the highest placed amateur competitor on his own Kilrodan Abbot, finishing in eleventh place. Peter describes Kilrodan Abbott as a “laid-back customer,” and their breezy attitude throughout the weekend won them many fans. Thirteen-year-old Kilrodan Abbott came to Peter as a 7-year-old, and Peter bought him because he liked him. “We took our time to go through the ranks. I am an amateur. ‘Eddie’ I guess is an amateur, too,’” Peter said. “He is very workmanlike and relaxed. Having a horse that is up and looking makes your job easier [in dressage], but on cross-country you can ride him to a fence, and he does not pull you over. You can work together on a question. That is really nice.”
Another pair that captured many hearts was Jordan Linstedt and her own Tullibards Hawkwind. Their quiet, steady way of going on cross-country carried over into the show jumping and they received big cheers from the full grandstands upon completing the event. They were the first to show jump this afternoon in 27th place. “It is truly unbelievable. I do not even have words,” Jordan said. “My horse is absolutely amazing. He was tired today, but he has the biggest heart of any horse I have ever been on. He did not really feel like he wanted to jump, but he did it. He likes to do it because it makes me happy. Going into the ring I know that.”
Several Rolex rookies made it to the finish in a division filled with eventing veterans who did not make it to the end. The highest placing rookie was Marilyn Little-Meredith, an international show jumper who began eventing just two years ago. She and RF Demeter finished in ninth place overall.
So concludes another excellent week of eventing at the only four-star in the western hemisphere, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The competition was fierce but safe. The horses and riders will take away a grand learning experience and some will have their eyes on the Olympic prize. Thank you to all the competitors, sponsors, volunteers, and spectators who participated in this year’s Rolex Kentucky CCI4*.
Full results are available on the Rolex Kentucky website.
Please enjoy the slideshow of show jumping and awards photos below or click here.
Leslie Threlkeld/USEA Photos