Andrew Hoy started the second leg of his bid to win the $250,000 Rolex Grand Slam at the Rolex Kentucky three-day event in Lexington yesterday (Thursday), lying equal fifth place after dressage with Yeoman’s Point.

Andrew, who won Burghley last autumn, has brought two strong contenders to the American four-star showpiece. Moonfleet goes today (Friday) and success here would add an extra dimension to Badminton next week, when he would be aiming to be the next rider after Pippa Funnell to do the hat-trick.

The home side’s Jan Thompson (Task Force) leads the first day’s dressage, with 48.2 penalties giving her a significant 6.2pen lead over second placed Philip Dutton (Hannigan) and an otherwise closely bunched group.

Britain is more sparsely represented than usual, with only Leslie Law, who goes today (Fri) with Coup de Coeur, and Georgia-based Emma Winter (Mahoghany Chief), whom local pundits tip for the top 10 place.

This year’s event has only 38 starters, and as it is the sponsor Rolex’s 25th anniversary, organisers are disappointed to host a lower than usual complement from Northern Europe. Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt were entered, but had to scratch, and the introduction of the easier to get to four-star in Luhmuhlen, Germany, has had its effect.

The state has also endured huge dumps of rain, for which course-builder Mike Etherington-Smith has been making provision since Saturday. A challenging competition is nonetheless in store because, even without the weather, his track is perceived to have gone up another notch.

The main water feature, the Head of the Lake, has new offset elements in the shape of ducks, requiring a very precise line, said Philip Dutton. “Before, if you got thrown up the horse’s neck, there was time to recover; there is no room for defensive riding this time,” he said.

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