Lucinda Fredericks and her gallant little mare Headley Britannia earned a standing ovation as they remained on their dressage score to win the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Lucinda burst into tears as she left the arena and was greeted by her husband Clayton, who won this competition in 2007.
A delighted Lucinda said: “Headley Britannia has been the most wonderful horse. What more could you possibly ask for? She’s come all the way from Wiltshire in England to beat some of the best in the world. I’ve had the best week of my life.”
The top three all jumped clear over Richard Jeffrey’s flowing track in Kentucky’s magnificent large arena, where the pressure on leading riders grew as the course was proving eminently jumpable and a mistake could prove expensive.
Germany’s Bettina Hoy was gracious in defeat after her gripping battle with Lucinda throughout the competition. She punched the air in delight after the 18-year-old Ringwood Cockatoo jumped with a clean round, just rattling one fence which luckily stayed in its cups.
Buck Davidson (USA), 33, scored his best ever four-star result, to finish third on his exciting new ride My Boy Bobby.
Nicolas Touzaint and Hildago de l’Ile remained on their dressage score to move up to fourth place, while Lucy Wiegersma was the best placed British rider in fifth on Woodfalls Inigo Jones after jumping a clear round.
William Fox-Pitt on Seacookie and Oliver Townend, who frustratingly had the last fence down on Carousel Quest, finished sixth and eighth, split by last year’s winners, Phillip Dutton on Connaught in seventh.
Four-star newcomer Tim Lips (NED) slipped from fourth to ninth with two rails down, but he won the HSBC FEI Classics Training Bursary worth $1,000, awarded to the highest placed rider competing at their first four-star.
The next leg of the HSBC FEI Classics series takes place at Badminton Horse Trials (7-10 May).
1. Lucinda Fredericks/Headley Britannia (AUS) 32.3
2. Bettina Hoy/Ringwood Cockatoo (GER) 38.4
3. Buck Davidson/My Boy Bobby (USA) 40.2
4. Nicolas Touzaint/Hildago de l’Ile (FRA) 44.3
5. Lucy Wiegersma/Woodfalls Inigo Jones (GBR) 44.4
6. William Fox-Pitt/Seacookie (GBR) 45.9
7. Phillip Dutton/Connaught (USA) 47.0
8. Oliver Townend/Carousel (GBR) 49.2
9. Tim Lips/Concrex Oncarlos (NED) 50.0
10. Stephen Bradley/Brandenburg’s Joshua (USA) 52.6
Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action from Kentucky in this Thursday’s magazine, on sale 30 April, ’09