Words and picture by Nancy Jaffer

A fault-free showjumping round to match a clear cross-country trip yesterday left Zara Tindall in third place at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, but she wasn’t able to overtake the leaders in the final phase of the four-star at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Despite having a rail down three fences from the end of Richard Jeffery’s well-plotted course, Germany’s Michael Jung won the event for the third straight time, an unprecedented feat since international eventing began at the venue with the 1978 World Championships.

He had logged time penalties on cross-country with Fischerrocana FST as well, but his dressage score of 37.1 penalties stood him in good stead as he added 5.6 penalties over the last two days to finish on 42.7.

Michael called his mare, “a very wonderful horse. There is so much fighting for me. It’s a very nice partnership.”

France’s Maxime Livio, who was standing second, finished the jumping fault-free, but remained behind Michael with a 44.6-penalty score on Qalao des Mers.

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Zara’s foot-perfect round with High Kingdom in her Rolex debut was impressive. She said with a chuckle that she “tried to put the pressure on Maxime, but it didn’t work.” Her total for the three days was 46.6 penalties.

She isn’t sure what’s next for High Kingdom, but noted Burghley is a possibility.

“I love Burghley and he suits the track. We’ll see how he comes out of this one and go from there,” Zara said.

Her clear jumping round without time penalties was one of only four such perfect trips from a field of 39 who performed before a crowd of 24,159 that filled the stands at the Rolex Stadium.

 

Phillip Dutton, the last American to win Rolex Kentucky in 2008, finished as the top U.S. rider in fourth place on the 18-year-old former German team horse Mr. Medicott, who was making his last four-star appearance.

British, European and Antipodean competitors have dominated the competition, the USA’s only four-star, for the past nine years.

Full report from the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event will be published in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 4 May