Shuffle at the Top: Fox-Pitt Takes Lead; Springer Ties O'Connor for Second at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone
RELEASE: April 23, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Joanie Morris
Allison Springer and Arthur (Shannon Brinkman/USEF)
– William Fox-Pitt made a monumental effort to get to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event presented by Bridgestone and so far, after the first phase of the competition – it had returned the favor. Delayed by the Icelandic volcano, Fox-Pitt arrived later than planned, but in plenty of time to put in a winning effort in the dressage ring.
The British rider rode Cool Mountain to a beautiful effort in the Johnson Arena under very unsettled weather conditions to finish on a score of 42.8 and take the lead into the cross country.
Cool Mountain, a 10-year-old gelding owned by Teresa Stopford Sackville, is making his first attempt at a CCI4*. With one of the most decorated riders in the world on his back, Cool Mountain could have no better pilot for his maiden voyage.
“I believe the horse is very ready,” said Fox Pitt. “The horse will hopefully gain in confidence. I didn’t expect to be at the head of affairs but I am not going to let go without a bit of a fight. He’s a very talented horse on the flat; he’s a pleasure to train. The credit is to him to produce his best test in that atmosphere.”
“I believe he’s ready but you don’t know until you are out there,” said Fox-Pitt about Saturday’s cross country course. “I thought the course was more straightforward than last year. But it is a serious test, last year the course was a bit trickier but there are plenty of chances to make mistakes.”
Unsettled weather is heading to the Bluegrass, but all fingers are crossed that the thunderstorms don’t materialize as planned. The ground can take plenty of rain, but Fox-Pitt acknowledged that the weather will change the game.
“If it rains it will be huge,” said Fox-Pitt.
One of America’s most experienced riders, Karen O’Connor, hung on to her top placing from Thursday’s dressage. Riding Joan Goswell’s Mandiba her score of 43.7 left her in second after the dressage, but she has company in the runner-up spot: Allison Springer and Arthur also delivered a performance on the expectation.
O’Connor has had some inconsistent form in the second phase with Mandiba – as a nine-year-old he represented the US at the Olympic Games and had to step up far beyond his experience at the time. He has caught up and after a spectacular effort at the USEF National CCI3* Eventing Championships last fall (where he finished second) he is very prepared for his first Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
“The horse has had struggles but he stepped up at Fair Hill last autumn,” said O’Connor. “He feels confirmed. His experience matches the questions tomorrow.”
O’Connor will find out tomorrow if her diligence to get the best out of the 11-year-old Irish Thoroughbred has returned the favor.
“My plan to stay on my minute markers and stay on the pace,” said O’Connor.
Springer has been knocking at the door with Arthur since he had his first top 20 at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4*, but their finish in the dressage here is something Springer always knew he was capable of.
The flashy moving liver chestnut delivered on the expectation and his rider was thrilled to be sitting in the top three.
“It was great to be here for sure,” said Springer. “I’ve been working to improve both mine and my horse’s consistency. This is a place I’ve always dreamed to be.”
Springer also made a unique choice, foregoing the traditional top hat for a Charles Owen helmet. Elegant as always on the 11-year-old Irish Thoroughbred, Springer, whose life has been touched very personally by head injury, explained her decision.
“I had been thinking a lot about it, it just felt right to do it,” she said. “I thought it looked pretty. It was a very personal choice. “
Fox-Pitt won the HSBC Classic Series in 2009, and looks on form again in 2010 as one of the most consistent CCI4* competitors in the world. A fellow Brit, Oliver Townend, is in the running for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. He is the current title holder of both the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials and the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, so he has an uphill battle from sixth and ninth places (with Ashdale Cruise Master and ODT Master Rose respectively) to take the top spot and pick up the $350,000 bonus. ENDS
Please contact Joanie Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
For more information visit: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsDisciplines/discipline/competitions/Rolex.aspx
To sign up for Universal Sports live webcast, please visit: http://www.universalsports.com/premium and click on equestrian.
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.