Mary King upheld the honour of the veterans in the Rolex Kentucky four-star field with a second place on Fernhill Urco and a fourth aboard King’s Temptress, as dressage wrapped up at the Kentucky Horse Park.
She’s well-positioned to take the lead in Saturday’s cross-country, but epic rains over the last month have raised questions about the going along the track laid out by Derek DiGrazia, who took over this year from long-time Rolex designer Michael Etherington-Smith.
Dressage scores were relatively high; no one broke into the 30s. Californian Tiana Coudray, at 22 less than half of Mary’s age, had the best mark, collecting 40.8pen with Ringwood Magister. This horse was bred at the same farm in Ireland as Bettina Hoy’s retired campaigner, Ringwood Cockatoo.
Mary called her Rolex mounts “possibilities for the London Olympics,” while noting they really are back-ups at this point, since they need to get qualified and “show consistency over the next 12 months”.
Urco logged 41.7pen while Kings Temptress had 47.7, behind the overnight leader from opening day, the USA’s Allison Springer on Arthur (42.3)
Commenting about the Portugese-bred Urco’s performance, Mary said: “I wasn’t expecting quite such a good test to be honest. He has really improved the last month. He’s such a lovely horse, a friendly character, a really positive-thinking horse. He’s always on a mission.”
So far, Rolex has been a showcase for the American rising stars, who also include Will Coleman on Twizzel, tied for fifth on 48.2 with US-based Brit James Alliston on Jumbo Jake.
Aside from Mary, the other big names in the field did not fare well in the impressive stadium that was the centerpiece of last autumn’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
An error of course added two marks to the total of Australian Clayton Fredericks, the 2007 winner, who is riding Be My Guest this time. Without that, he would have tied for fifth; now he stands 10th.
Last year’s winner, William Fox-Pitt, perhaps could have been judged more generously with Neuf des Coeurs, 19th in the field of 44 with 52.7. Badminton winner Mark Todd came back down to earth tying for 17th with Grass Valley (51.8).
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Kentucky cross-country start times
Sat (BST): Mary King 15:15 (Kings Temptress) and 19:50 (Fernhill Urco), Oliver Townend 18:50, Mark Todd 18:55 & William Fox-Pitt 20:05