Andrew Nicholson & Quimbo win the title of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event with William Fox-Pitt in second place on Seacookie TSF, Andrew again on Calico Joe in third and Buck Davidson fourth on Ballynoe Castle RM.
Although William Fox-Pitt didn’t need to win the Rolex Kentucky this year to be in contention for the Rolex Grand Slam; it was a nail biting finish between leading eventing rivals Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson ahead of the final Rolex Grand Slam competition – the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials next weekend.
In Lexington, today saw the final phase of the prestigious four-star Rolex Kentucky competition kick off at 1.15pm local time. With only four clear rounds in the show jumping phase prior to last to go, Andrew Nicholson and Quimbo, there was no guarantee. The combination had the advantage of entering the arena with two fences in hand and in true showman style, they jumped a clear round giving the pair their first double four star clear to win the highly contested competition.
William Fox-Pitt finished well in second place with Catherine Witt’s Seacookie TSF. The pair jumped a double clear despite testing conditions, including Fox-Pitt breaking a finger during the round!
Nicholson had a rail in hand on Calico Joe, his second ride, going into the show jumping phase. Joe went earlier in the afternoon to give Nicholson time between the two horses and had three rails to place them third at the end of the day.
Nicholson has had Joe since he was a three year old and commented yesterday that show jumping is not the horse’s strong point. Nicholson said on securing third place, the feeling is “similar to Quimbo’s” which he later added was “very proud”.
Nicholson commented that Quimbo felt “very smart and clever” during the show jumping for the clear round adding only 3 time penalties to secure the win. Incredibly, it was Quimbo’s first ever four star, although he is clearly of star quality having won the CIC*** (8/9yro’s) at Blenheim last year and the CCI*** at Boekelo in October.
Nicholson said that when Quimbo cleared the first jump he had “such a buzz” and “I know he’s got enough stamina to do the 4 star tracks” even though he doesn’t come from galloping breeding. He added that he was “surprised how much pace he produced” when he asked for more after the last water on the cross country.
The win sets Nicholson up to become the first Kiwi to contend for the $US350,000 (£225,996) Rolex Grand Slam – encompassing the Burghley International Horse Trials, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and Land Rover Burghley four star events in succession. It also extends his lead in the HSBC FEI Classics which boasts a $US250,000 (£161,425) prize pot. In addition to the $80,000 (£50,656) winnings today, Nicholson was also awarded $10,000 (£6,457) for winning whilst wearing SSG branded gloves.
EWW editor, Louise Elliott commented that -
“The win for Nicholson creates a situation, which has made eventing history; where two riders are vying for eventing’s biggest prize – ‘The Rolex Grand Slam’ in the same year.
Explaining that -
“This arises as William Fox-Pitt couldn’t try and complete his trio of four star wins in 2012 due to the cancellation of that year’s Badminton competition. He has therefore been allowed to carry the challenge over until this year, 2013. In the meantime, Andrew Nicholson has caught up by winning the Burghley four star last year on Avebury and now the Rolex Kentucky.
“In reality, does it make a difference to either of them that both are now trying to win? We suppose not, as we’re pretty sure their competitiveness would have been at its peak in any event, but it will mean that there is now more probability, the winner of Badminton will be a lot richer!“
William Fox-Pitt commented that to win the grand slam, both riders still have to go to Badminton to claim the title and, “at the end of the day it could be neither (of them) for the win”. Michael Jung is also competing at Badminton for the first time and is well tipped to take the top spot on his ride, La Biosthetique-Sam FBW (“Sam”), Sam. William joked at the press conference that Michael Jung would win anyway!
Fox-Pitt added “so many things have to come off in a row” but “coming to the event in Kentucky did sharpen us up” for next week. Let’s hope Fox-Pitt’s broken finger does not cause any bother for the final phase of this exciting finale.
Even though Badminton is on everyone’s mind the future of Seacookie was questioned. Fox-Pitt said that the 14 year old, who won the Blenheim CCI*** last year (2012) and was second in the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in 2010; will have a well earned holiday following this event before they look to make any Autumn plans for him.
Out of 29 riders in the final phase at the Rolex Kentucky today; there were 5 clear jumping rounds and 2 double clear. In the top 10 there were two New Zealand horses, one from Great Britain, one from Canada, five US horses, and also the sole rider for Australia, Peter Atkins.
Report by Elena Nuila
Photographs by Ab3 Photography