Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp rode Fernhill By Night to a distant second place (43.0), and 2008 Rolex Kentucky champion Phillip Dutton rode Fernhill Fugitive to third place (43.1). Dutton also stands seventh on Fernhill Cubalawn (48.2) with a full day of dressage on Friday still to come.
Eleven year old Fischerrocana FST earned a score that was five points better than she did when winning the event last year. Jung declined to compare the two scores, however, saying: “Every competition is different, and today we had different judges than last year, and this was a different test, so it’s hard to compare the tests. But I had a really good start today. I’m very happy with my dressage test. She was very concentrated. She travelled very well to Kentucky and was very nice to ride on the last few days, so I expected her to perform well.”
Halliday-Sharp said she was pleased with the relaxation and obedience that Fernhill By Night, commenting: “Blacky’ is like a big, black Labrador. I got the warm-up right today, and he really worked with me. He really, really tried.”
Dutton was pleased with the score the three judges gave Fernhill Fugitive as the first horse in the ring. “It’s not always great going first—you never know what kind of score you’re going to get,” he said. “So I was pleased with the way he went. It was probably his best four-star score yet. He’s really matured. He’s come together and is maturing, and he’s a good-natured horse.”
Of Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course Dutton added: “I’d say it’s sort of what we expected—a big, forward-riding course. If you’re on a green horse, it can still be a good experience, but it’s certainly strong enough to sort everyone else out.”
Jung said that he believes that di Grazia’s course is tougher than last year, because he uses the terrain of the Kentucky Horse Park more. And that could be a factor in determining the results if the rain that’s predicted falls. But Jung said that the weather conditions will not change his riding attitude. “When I come to a competition, I come to win. There is no other way,” Jung said. “Fischerrocana gave me a very good feeling today, so I will ride her the best I can on Saturday and see how she goes in whatever the weather is.”
American based British rider James Alliston and his ride Parker scored 64.2 which put them in 30th place after the first day of dressage. Britain’s other representative, Panda Christie and Little Leo will be third to go once today’s dressage gets underway. Other riders of note who have made the journey from the UK to the US to perform dressage today include New Zealanders Mark Todd (NZB Campino) and Blyth Tait (Xanthus III).
Photographs courtesy of John Waugh