America remains at the helm of the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** as Allison Springer replaces Michael Pollard in the top spot at the end of the 2nd day of dressage.
As this phase drew to a close the ground jury appeared more generous in its marking. The American made the most of this, storming into the lead with a showstopping 39.5 — the only sub-40 score — gained for an expressive and accurate performance from her long-time partner Arthur.
This isn’t the first time this pairing have found themselves in pole position at America’s premier horse trials venue. In 2012 they led the dressage here with the only sub-40 score, but were narrowly headed on the final scoreboard by William Fox-Pitt.
“2 years ago Arthur did a good test but I think this one was better, plus it was more emotional for me,” said Allison referring to the fact that this event is a comeback for Arthur following almost 2 years on the sidelines due to injury.
William Fox-Pitt currently lies 2nd with Catherine Witt’s Bay My Hero on 44, a few points lost with a blip in the first flying change (watch the video below). The British rider is also 10th on the same owner’s Seacookie TSF.
“Yesterday’s marking was harsh,” said the rider who has brought 2 horses to the States thanks to UK Sport and Lottery money. “There was a general feeling of ‘oh God no’ and quite a bit of despondency. Seacookie hasn’t scored a mark of 51 for 5 years, but that is all a part of the sport.”
Karen and David O’Connors’ protégé Lauren Kieffer lies in 3rd place with the KWPN mare Veronica. She produced particularly impressive trot work, but relinquished a few points for her walk pirouette and rein back, a long-time weak point.
Veronica was previously campaigned by Karen O’Connor — they parted company on the cross-country here 2 years ago — but when Karen suffered a serious fall at Morven Park Horse Trials in the same year she passed the ride to her pupil.
A trio of riders share 4th place — Jan Byyny (Inmidair), Phillip Dutton (Mr Medicott) and yesterday’s leader Michael Pollard (Mensa G) all on 49.5.
Two Britain-based Kiwis, Andrew Nicholson and Sir Mark Todd, would prefer to be closer to the top of the leaderboard. Grand Slam hopeful Andrew earned 51.7 for equal 11th place on his Burghley winner Avebury.
“He wasn’t as good as he is on grass,” he explained. “Grass gives him a bit more balance. I was having to ride him in there a little too strongly.”
Mark Todd, meanwhile, is considering withdrawing his 38th placed Oloa.
“He’s capable of doing a winning test, but as soon as he saw the stands he flipped,” he said.
The remaining Brit, Alice Dunsdon, lies in 50th place after Fernhill Present showed his tension with a half buck in the last flying change for a total of 67.2.
“It’s a big atmosphere in there, but he felt rideable,” said the Surrey-based rider. “I’m pretty happy with him.”
Alice is on a mission to complete all 6 of the world’s 4-star events. The plan next year is Badminton, followed by Adelaide. All of Alice’s trips are self-funded.
“I sold a horse to come here,” she said. “Fernhill Present is a good traveller. If he was a stressy horse I couldn’t do it.”
Looking ahead to cross-country
Torrential rain early this morning has helped to alleviate the hardness in the going for tomorrow’s cross-country phase.
“I think the horses should finish well,” said William Fox-Pitt, who admitted that the severely angled brushes at 16ab is the fence he is most worried about.
“The angled beams look horrible. We have all developed a squint in the hope of imagining that they look better than they do, but horses really do need to be on the ball there.”
There are relatively few long routes on Derek Di Grazia’s 27-fence track and for the first time the event will not have a 2-hour break at lunch time. In the past this has been blamed for affecting concentration and leading to a 2-tiered scoreboard.
Rolex Kentucky Horse Trials results after dressage
1. Allison Springer/Arthur (USA), 39.5
2. William Fox-Pitt/Bay My Hero (GBR), 44
3. Lauren Kieffer/Veronica (USA), 46.7
= 4. Jan Byyny/Inmidair (USA), 49.5
= 4. Phillip Dutton/Mr Medicott (USA), 49.5
= 4. Michael Pollard/Mensa G (USA), 49.5
7. Will Faudree/Pawlow (USA), 49.8
8. Doug Payne/Crown Talisman (USA), 51.2
9. Marilyn Little/RF Demeter (USA), 51.3
10. William Fox-Pitt/Seacookie TSF (USA), 51.5
18. Sarah Bullimore/Reve Du Rouet (GBR), 52.7
50. Alice Dunsdon/Fernhill Present (GBR), 67.2
53. Tim Bourke/Luckaun Quality (IRL), 68.3
55. James Alliston/Parker (GBR), 69.2