William Fox-Pitt (pictured below) may not have won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in three tries, but he turned in a really credible performance against top competition yesterday to be place fourth with a perfect show jumping round his relatively inexperienced mount, Ballincoola.
“I’m going to go away from here feeling really great and looking forward to the rest of the season,” said William, who was 11th on his other horse, Coastal Ties, after two knockdowns and time penalties as he made his way carefully around the testing course.
The show jumping track at the Kentucky Horse Park was designed by Richard Jeffery, a native of Britain who has won the US course designer of the year title six times. Only six starters in the four-star CCI division had double clears, with top honours going to Kim Severson and Winsome Adante, who had led since the dressage stage.
Kim added nothing throughout the weekend to her 37-penalty dressage score, holding firm under pressure from Australian Phillip Dutton, who was six penalties behind her on Nova Top and produced a double clear right before she went in the arena.
The jumps, modelled after Kentucky landmarks like the twin spires of Churchill Downs racetrack, home of the Kentucky Derby, were as difficult as they were attractive. There was an optional line at the double, but the only ones to take the track across the centre of the ring were the British riders and Kim.
Though Polly Jackson had two knockdowns with Limestone Rise (pictured right), she still managed to finish sixth after a spectacular cross-country performance. Sarah Cutteridge was 12th on Future Perfect, with just one knockdown and a time penalty.
In the modified section, which lacked a steeplechase and was only open to riders based in North America, Pan American Championships individual gold medallist Darren Chiacchia moved up to first from second, despite a pole down at the last of 13 jumps, the Rolex oxer.
Nathalie Boukaert, 23 was in a state of shock to find she had kept her dressage lead on West Farthing through cross-country, but was subdued by a stop at the first fence on the show jumping course.
“I was trying to be very careful,” she said, “but I rode backward. After that, I took a long breath and relaxed.” But West Farthing didn’t, dropping three rails and logging six time penalties, plummeting Nathalie to seventh.
US-based Phillip Dutton, who is being eyed by his country’s Olympic selectors, was second in the modified, too, with Hannigan, the former ride of Abigail Lufkin. She was third in the CCI on Kildonan Tug, an Australian thoroughbred she bought last autumn.
More than 69,000 spectators attended Rolex during the weekend, despite rainy weather on three of the four days. There were 17,811 on hand during the final afternoon to bid farewell to Custom Made, who retired in a formal ceremony. He is the horse who
Tailor, as the bay gelding is known at home, carried David O’Connor’s to claim the individual gold medal in Sydney four years ago, and his resume also includes victories at Badminton and Rolex. He following his official retirement from competition he going to star in David and his wife Karen’s popular clinics around the country.
CCI four-star final results
1, Kim Severson, USA, Winsome Adante, 37 pens;
2, Phillip Dutton, AUS, Nova Top, 43;
3, Abigail Lufkin, USA, Kildonan Tug, 45.8;
4, William Fox-Pitt, GBR, Ballincoola, 47.4;
5, Julie Richards, USA, Jacob Two Two, 56.6;
6, Polly Jackson, GBR, Limestone Rise, 61.4.
Modified four-star results
1, Darren Chiacchia, USA, Windfall II, 45.2;
2, Phillip Dutton, AUS, Hannigan, 49.6;
3, John Williams, USA, Carrick, 50.2;
4, Amy Tryon, USA, My Beau, 53.2;
5, Stephen Bradley, USA, From, 54;
6, Jan Thompson, USA, Task Force, 56.2.