Bettina Hoy and Lucinda Fredericks, whose husbands have both won Rolex watches at Kentucky, produced outstanding dressage tests to lead after the first phase.

Bettina has the advantage, with the only sub-30 mark — 28.8 — on the wonderful Ringwood Cockatoo, at 18 the oldest horse in the field.

“He never disappoints me in this phase,” said Bettina, “but this time he was just fantastic, so supple. He owes me nothing.”

Bettina’s husband Andrew, who won Kentucky on Master Monarch in 2006, is back at home in Germany, working the couple’s young horses. They are currently based at Warendorf.

Lucinda’s husband, Clayton, who won Kentucky on Ben Along Time in 2007, is present to advise his wife about the cross-country phase, about which she commented; “It’s big and fair and I think it will suit Brit (Headley Britannia). I’ve got to try not to take too many pulls, because it’s going to be fast going and I’m a bit of a naughty one for taking a pull. But I’m feeling a lot better about it having made the decision to take the long route at the Sunken Road.”

Lucinda scored 32.3 on Headley Britannia who, at 15.2hh is the smallest in the field.

Buck Davidson, third on My Boy Bobby (39 penalties), also has the weight of family expectation on his shoulders. His father Bruce, who is also competing at Kentucky, is the most successful rider here, winning the 1978 World Championships and numerous other three-day prizes.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen across country because this is my horse’s first time at this level, and he’s not a full Thoroughbred, but he’s pretty fit and he’s been consistent this year.”

Buck got the ride on My Boy Bobby, an attractive Irish-bred liver chestnut found by Clare Ryan, last year. He was quick to credit training with Bettina Hoy last year for his improved dressage performance. “She’s changed the way I ride, and it feels amazing to be sitting up here with these two greats.”

Tim Lips, hero of the first day, is now fourth, ahead of best British rider Lucy Wiegersma, fifth with a well-ridden test on Woodfalls Inigo Jones, 43.2 penalties. William Fox-Pitt is sixth on Seacookie (43.5) and ninth on Navigator (46.7), and Oli Townend is now eighth on his new ride Carousel Quest, fourth at Burghley with Cressie Clague-Reading in 2006.

Nicola Wilson is 26th on Opposition Buzz (54.7) after an unsettled test, but the bold, galloping nature of Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course should be just her handwriting.

Nicolas Touzaint, making his first visit to Kentucky, is seventh on his Badminton winner Hildago de l’Ile and Kentucky’s defending champions Phillip Dutton and Connaught are 10th on 47.

The cross-country phase starts at 10am Kentucky time (3pm British), with Buck Davidson first out on the course on Ballynoe Castle RM.

Full results on www.rk3de.org and video viewing on FEI.tv (www.fei.org)

Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action from Rolex Kentucky three-day event, on sale Thursday 30 April, ’09