Oliver Townend continued his quest to retain his title at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN with a strong performance on the cross country.
He maintained his top spot with Cooley Master Class, adding just 1.2 time penalties to finish the second phase with a score of 25.3.
American Boyd Martin moved up to second with Tsetserleg on 27.9 while New Zealand’s Tim Price stands third with Xavier Faer (30.9).
Townend was thrilled with his 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse. “He’s come out a lot keener this time than last time and he felt quite strong for him in places,” said Townend. “But he was definitely up for it. When he made up his mind on something, he felt more in control than I was. He knew his job today and this seems to be a place that he loves.
“He was definitely up for it today, more so than I’ve ever felt him,” he continued. “It didn’t matter the distance, his ears were pricked and his legs were out of the way. I hope he’s coming into his own; it’s his second five star and he felt like he knew more about his job this year than last year.”
Cooley Master Class lost shoe halfway around the course, which Townend believes resulted in the handful off time faults.
“I was very conscious of not having the shoe on and he had a bit of a slip turning back into the main lake,” he admitted. “I felt like I was balancing more than I normally would, I was not trying to pick up big distances, just trying to keep him in balance all the while being a touch more conservative than normally. You have beautiful ground here but the grass is just a little slippery.”
Martin also noticed a change in his 12-year-old Trakehner from last year’s performance. “He gave me a fantastic ride actually,” he said. “My little guy felt a lot more seasoned and I have a better partnership with him. For a half-bred horse he’s got quite a good gallop and speed. He was just a gutsy little trier.”
Price was pleased with the 13-year-old British Sport Horse’s performance and fitness. “I had a good trip around on my horse today and I’m really happy with the fitness,” he said.
“Especially when you’re coming from across the pond you have to be more up on your game. And it was just so demanding. It walked demanding, because it was quite complex throughout and there was no way to get coasting and make up time or regain the horse’s composure. But he threw himself over everything—not clumsy but he’s not always the most coordinated, but he was trying his hardest and stayed upright in all the most important places.”
Britain’s two other representatives in the competition also put on a good show. Piggy French and Quarrycrest Echo are currently in fifth, adding 5.6 time penalties to have a two phase score of 33.5. Meanwhile Leslie Law and Voltaire De Tre’ are in 14th with a two phase score of 48.1, adding 11.2 time penalties from the cross country.
As predicted, the time proved very hard to get, with only three coming home with no jumping or time penalties: Martin, Price and Phillip Dutton, who now stands fourth. Will Coleman and Tight Lines also came home inside the time, but were awarded 15 penalty points for knocking down a flag in the water at 11A.
Of the 41 horses that started cross country, 31 will be moving forward to the final horse inspection. Twenty-six made it home with no jumping penalties. Four were eliminated on cross country: Deniro Z and Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp, Park Trader and Davidson, Martin and Islandwood Captain Jack and Colleen Loach of Canada aboard Qorry Blue D’Argouges.
Two retired on cross country: Sharon White and Cooley On Show and Hallie Coon and Celien, and four didn’t start. Davidson withdrew his additional two mounts after he was found to have broken his collarbone and Martin also withdrew her second mount Danger Mouse. Mara DePuy also withdrew Congo Brazzaville C before cross country.