Americans Sweep First Day of Dressage at 2010 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone
RELEASE: April 22, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Joanie Morris
Mandiba and Karen O'Connor (Shannon Brinkman )
– The first half of the field in the 2010 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone took to the dressage ring today under the looming threat of rain. It never really materialized but it was a sharp reminder that the glorious weather of the past weeks is coming to a close. Rolex and a little bit of rain has become a tradition.
Of the first group, Olympic veteran and three-time winner, Karen O’Connor was the best of the bunch and put forward a lovely effort on Mandiba. Riding for Joan Goswell, O’Connor is no stranger to success at the Kentuck Horse Park; she won with Worth the Trust in 1996 and has developed 11-year-old Mandiba into another superstar for Goswell.
“He’s had a very good season in the dressage,” said O’Connor. “He’s more confirmed than ever for sure, he’s been consistent but this was the first time in this atmosphere. I am over the moon about how calm and relaxed he was in there.”
Forever a perfectionist, O’Connor knows that despite their score of 43.7, the best part about Mandiba is that there is still room for improvement. He made no visible mistakes, but O’Connor thinks there are still more points in there.
“That’s the most exciting part,” said O’Connor. “There are little details that could have gotten the score better. He is such an elegant horse and he tries so hard.”
O’Connor has been around the Kentucky Horse Park more than just about anyone, and her experience will prove valuable on Saturday as Mandiba aims to improve his CCI4* form. The O’Connor Event Team has been a mainstay of the US Eventing program for decades, and O’Connor knows that when she goes in the ring, she doesn’t go it alone.
“It takes a village,” she said. “A lot of people went down that center line with me.”
The Ground Jury of Marilyn Payne (USA), Christian Landholt (SUI) and Ulrich Schmitz (USA) gave O’Connor a definitive lead over Beck Holder and Courageous Comet. Holder and the flashy grey Thoroughbred gelding usually are at the top of the heap after the first phase, and Holder was a little disappointed with her dressage test.
“I just have to take it one day at a time,” said Holder. “I would have liked to have a little bit better performance today.”
The always elegant Courageous Comet (who is owned by Becky’s husband Tom) was spooky in the beginning of his test but his marks improved as the test went on. Holder’s weekend was still a winning one; she won the Rolex watch at the competitor’s party on Wednesday night. Each year a competitor’s name is selected from a hat and they get to win before the competition even begins. It was Holder’s year for that honor.
The new CCI4* test has some very different movement in it including half-pass to walk to a ½ pirouette which some horses struggled with, and four flying changes. Only three horses went under 50 on day one, and rounding out the top trio was 2008 winner Phillip Dutton riding Ann Jones’ 2005 runner-up, The Foreman.
“I'm pleased,” Dutton said. “He got a little stuck in the canter. He hasn’t been in a big arena like this for four or five years.”
Out with a nagging injury to a splint bone off and on since 2006, The Foreman’s return to the Johnson Arena at the Horse Park was a relief for Dutton. A winner of two CCI3*s and runner-up at two CCI4*s, The Foreman, now 14, hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm for the game despite having been on hiatus.
“It’s good to have him back,” said Dutton. “He has a very patient owner. He had the splint, we brought him back once, and he was still no good so we gave him a good long time off. He’s obviously one of the best horses I’ve ever had and he really shines at the big events. It’s a bonus having him here and I am enjoying it.”
Dutton was the last in the ring on Thursday and will be first in on Friday, as the only rider with four horses in the competition. He will ride Woodburn, who Jones also owns in partnership with Acorn Hill Farm and Mardie Faucett, at 9.30 am.
With HSBC FEI Classics Series Points on the line and Great Britain’s Oliver Townend in the running for the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, there are a number of stories to evolve over the weekend. Don’t miss a minute of the action. ENDS
Please contact Joanie Morris at email@example.com with questions.
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The Kentucky Cup Dressage and the Kentucky Cup Jumping events, which serve as test events for the upcoming Alltech 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games, will be held in conjunction with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Bridgestone.
To learn more about these events visit: http://www.alltechfeigames.com/content.aspx?id=3584
Pictures, blogs, video and all kinds of other information can be found at: http://www.clubequestrian.com/coverage/rolex_3day_event_2010.aspx.