Mary King dominates with one-two at Rolex Kentucky

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Mary King dominated the Rolex Kentucky four-star three-day event by winning with Kings Temptress and finishing second on Fernhill Urco, as a crowd of nearly 16,000 gave her a standing ovation.

Mary usually doesn’t stress about showjumping.

“I always feel with a three-day event that the cross-country is the big day and that whatever will be, will be in the showjumping. You just hope that they pick up their feet and it all works out,” said Mary.

Despite that, Saturday night Mary found she had trouble sleeping, and wound up watching a film at 2am. But as it happened, she had nothing to worry about.

Both of her horses enjoyed fault-free excursions over Richard Jeffery’s colourful course, on which 10 of 28 starters were double-clear. Urco, who had 49.7pen, went sixth from last so Mary wouldn’t have to ride two rounds in a row. His finish insured she would win the competition, taking some of the pressure off his stablemate, who followed his lead to take the $80,000 first prize at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The 2007 winner, Clayton Fredericks, dropped from third to fifth when Be My Guest toppled a rail to finish on 57pen. That opened the door for Sinead Halpin, participating in her first four-star, to move up from fourth to third with Manoir de Carneville as she kept her cross-country score of 53.1pen. As the highest-placed American, the 29-year-old was named the US Equestrian Federation National Four-star Champion.

Clayton’s misfortune also benefited last year’s winner, William Fox-Pitt, for whom Sinead worked in 2008 and 2009. William wound up fourth with a fault-free ride on his promising Neuf des Coeurs.

“I hoped he’d perform well, but you never know with a first-time four-star exactly how it will pan out,” said William. “Potentially, I think he’s a top horse. I think he would need to just back up his form here with another four-star run in the autumn.”

Oliver Townend, whose 2010 Kentucky venture ended in a crash as he sought the Rolex Grand Slam, fared better this time around. He went from 26th after dressage to sixth with 58.2 penalties on ODT Sonas Rovatio, who he called “a fantastic horse.”

Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action in Kentucky, plus expert analysis and reaction, in Thursday’s magazine on sale 5 May, 2011