Michael Jung is once again sitting atop the leaderboard at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Even

Following an exciting day of action on the cross country, Michael Jung is once again sitting atop the leaderboard at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover. 
 
The German Olympic champion added just 1.6 time penalties to his dressage score to lead with fischerRocana FST with a score of 38.7. This gives him Ha rail in hand over France’s Maxime Livio and Qalao Des Mers in second (44.6). 
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British rider Zara Tindall and High Kingdom jumped up the leaderboard to finish the day in third (46.6) following a superb round. 
 
The cross-country caused a considerable shakeup in the standings. Overnight leaders Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen dropped down the order after runouts at 18ab, the first of two narrow wedges in the water at the Land Rover Landing and the second of the Horse Park Barns at 27. Kim Severson who had been third after dressage retired Cooley Cross Border after a run out at the corner at the Fox Den at 22. 
 
The Land Rover Landing proved to be the most influential fence of the day, with 10 pairs coming to grief there. In all, only five of the 57 starters managed to come home double clear, including Tindall, and only 26 came home with no jumping penalties. 
Though he is sitting in first, Jung did not have his signature perfect round as his mare got a few funny distances. “I think that’s cross-country,”  he said. “You never know what will happen. You walk the course and make a plan, but then I felt in the warm up today that Rocana was not feeling perfect with the weather. It made me nervous before the start, but on course she was galloping well and jumping powerfully.”

Jung, defending Rolex Kentucky champion and two-time Olympic champion, credits his partnership with his horses, and especially Rocana, with his ability to succeed even when things don’t go perfectly. “(Towards the end of the course) some situations were not very clear for me and the horse, but we have a good partnership,” he said. “That is the most important thing in eventing–that you know each other and trust each other and can find your way out of difficult situations. I am very happy that we both came out happy and healthy.”

Livio also had nothing but praise for his horse and his partnership. “I am super happy with my horse, who had a super round,” said Livio, 29, Saumur, France. “He started like he starts every time – fast and strong. I tried not to fight too much at the beginning, but he never wanted to get quiet. But he did exactly what I wanted everywhere. With all (the terrain and crowds) on that course sometimes you can have a plan and not realize that plan. It happened for me (on the fish in the Head of the Lake). My last stride was too short, but it was my only bobble on the course. The horse is well, I’m very happy, the ground was superb for me and the weather was a good thing today.”

Tindall had a rough time during her last trip to the Kentucky Horse Park, when her horse High Kingdom had to be withdrawn from competition after injuring himself in the stables right before he was set to do dressage. This time they’ve had a much better weekend, with a good showing in dressage and a strong double-clear in the cross-country to stand third.

“I had a great ride,” she said. “I was pretty happy after my dressage and to get through to my cross-country was already better than two years ago! I was happy for the rain last night, the ground was incredible. He loves this phase – he gallops great, he’s easy to turn, he’s very good at all the combinations and we did what we planned the whole way around. He kept galloping well in the heat–you are always worried and he coped really well. He finished really good too, so hopefully it will be easier for him tomorrow.” 

Taking home an extra prize is US rider Erin Sylvester aboard Mettraise, who thanks to her perfect round finishing on the optimum time, receives a two-year lease on a 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport as the Land Rover Best Ride of the Day.

“I was really pleased with ‘Missy,’” Sylvester said. “This is her first four-star, so I did not go out with a plan to hit optimum time, but at the end of the last big combination I was hitting all my minute markers and thought we could do it. She’s always supper bold but not the most ridable. She was great everywhere, in a few spots she felt green, but she tried hard to squeeze between the flags and land galloping away. She came in well and I’m looking forward to jumping her tomorrow.”

Standing in fourth is US rider Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF (47.8), who leads the Rolex/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. 

“I was really happy with Super Socks,” Brown said. “My only plan was to take each exercise one at a time. I started with one idea of the options out there and I realized after jumping through the Head of the Lake that I just need to trust this horse and he’ll jump anything in front of him. I didn’t give a him a great jump in and he just did it, and I thought I need to trust that my horse knows what he’s doing.

“I’ve since discovered he jumped out of both of his front shoes somewhere before the Head of the Lake,” Brown continued. “There were a few jumps where I thought I saw a good distance, but he added up. Now, knowing he didn’t have fronts, I see he was making good decisions. I thought it was hard to find good ground at the end of the day, and he was quite tired but that horse is nothing if not all heart. I asked for more and he kept giving.”

In the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge, the combined team of New Zealand/France/Germany kept its lead with a score of 156.3 over Team USA (162.2) and Team Canada (194.5). The combined team includes Jung (38.7), Livio, (44.6), Joe Meyer (NZL)/Clip Clop (73.0) and Tim Price (NZL)/ Ringwood Skyboy (121.3).

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