Mary King dominates the standings of the Rolex Kentucky four-star three-day event after two impressive trips around the cross-country course at the Kentucky Horse Park.
She turned in one of only three double-clear rounds on her homebred Kings Temptress, moving up from fourth place to take the lead.
Leader after dressage Tiana Coudray, was one of eight riders to be eliminated on course when she had a fall with Ringwood Magister after two refusals on the 28-obstacle Derek di Grazia-designed route.
Later in the day, when the temperature was warmer and the ground perhaps a little more holding than it had been earlier, Mary collected eight time penalties with the Portugese-bred Fernhill Urco. This kept her second-place spot with the grey gelding, who is making his 4-star debut.
Going into Sunday’s showjumping, Kings Temptress, seventh at Burghley last year, remains on her dressage score of 47.7, while Fernhill Urco is two penalties in arrears.
Mary was overwhelmed by her success.
“I’m absolutely over the moon. I never would have dreamt I would be in this position when I left England to come here,” she admitted. “They are two very different horses. Kings Temptress is very experienced at this level and was fluent all the way round. Fernhill Urco has no experience at this level and he was a bit green at the first water, but he improved the further he went.”
Australian Olympic team silver medalist and 2007 Rolex winner Clayton Fredericks, moved up from 10th to third on Be My Guest, picking up just 2.8pen for going over the optimum time of 11:10.
Clayton goes into the showjumping on 53.1pen, only 0.2 less than American Sinead Halpin, who was making her four-star debut with the Selle Francais Manoir de Carneville. Sinead attributed her experience on the U.S. developing rider silver medal team at Boekelo last year with preparing her for the crowds and pressure of Rolex.
William Fox-Pitt is still in the hunt with Neuf des Coeurs, accumulating only 0.8 time penalties to bring him up from 19th to sixth on 54pen, just behind another young American, Hannah Sue Burnett and St. Barths (53.3). However, Badminton winner Mark Todd found his hopes for a Rolex Grand Slam all but dashed when Grass Valley had a refusal at the third-to-last jump. He dropped from equal 17th to 18th with 83 penalties.
Richard Jeffery of Great Britain is designing the decisive showjumping course in the main arena that was the centerpiece of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games last fall. Only 30 of the 44 horses that finished dressage completed cross-country, with three withdraw before the event’s second phase.
Follow the final showjumping phase in Kentucky at www.horseandhound.co.uk/kentucky