Two American horses were held at the first horse inspection at the Rolex Kentucky Horse Trials this afternoon, but both were accepted on re-inspection to give a starting field of 75.
Anthony Patch — ridden by the glamorously dressed Laine Ashker — and Kristin Schmolze’s ride Ballylaffin Bracken were the horses sent to the holding box. But after anxious moments for both competitors the ground jury of Angela Tucker (GBR, president), Ernst Topp (GER) and Wayne Quarles (USA) passed the pair when they re-presented.
US-based Irish rider Tim Bourke had to trot Luckaun Quality up twice, but he was then accepted. The same fate befell the USA’s Katie Ruppel, whose ride Houdini was very excited — commentator Mike Tucker asked her to walk rather than trot back the second time as “we need the ground jury for dressage tomorrow”.
Seven horses start for Britain. The first of these into the arena tomorrow will be Watermill Vision under Nicola Wilson (number eight). Also performing their dressage tomorrow for Team GB are US-based James Alliston on Parker (number 13), plus Francis Whittington and Easy Target (number 32).
On Friday, Britain is represented by Nicola’s second ride Annie Clover (number 77), Zara Phillips on High Kingdom (number 66), defending champions William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero (number 82) and James’ second horse Tivoli (number 85).
Bay My Hero spooked at the flowers at the end of the trot-up strip this afternoon and then broke into canter on the return journey, leading Mike to quip that he was “accepted – and ready”.
The British-based horses — including Irishman Austin O’Connor’s Balham Houdini, New Zealander Tim Price’s ride Wesko and Australian Bill Levett’s Improvise — travelled by road to Amsterdam, before flying to Chicago. The horses spent a couple of days in quarantine there before being driven to Kentucky, which takes about seven hours. They left Britain on Wednesday and reached the Kentucky Horse Park on Saturday.
German star Michael Jung presented two horses today, Olympic champion La Biosthetique Sam FBW and world silver medallist FischerRocana FST. They flew to New York before a longer road journey (around 15 hours) to the venue.
Horses up to and including number 48 will perform their dressage tomorrow, with the rest on Friday.
Check back soon for cross-country course photos and more updates from Rolex Kentucky online all week. Full report in H&H next week, out Thursday 30 April.