Swiss rider Felix Vogg, 28, holds the lead after the first day of dressage (Thursday, 25 April) at the Land Rover Kentucky Horse Trials.
Riding his father Jürgen’s 11-year-old Colero, Felix scored 28 for a test which was particularly highly rewarded in the trot work. He tried a new tactic of only doing a very short warm-up with Colero, which he said worked well.
“He doesn’t take atmosphere too seriously, you have to trick him a little bit,” said Felix. “So it was lucky that Hallie [Coon, the competitor before Felix] got applause as that woke him up a bit.”
This was a personal best score for the horse, but not out of turn as he scored 28.6 at last year’s World Equestrian Games.
Felix is making his debut at Kentucky and at this level. This is his final event in the US after a year based here.
The home side holds second place courtesy of Liz Halliday-Sharp, who scored 30.9 with another 11-year-old, Deniro Z, who belongs to the The Deniro Syndicate and Ocala Horse Properties.
“It’s never easy being so early on and I felt he gave me everything he had, but I was a bit disappointed with the score,” admitted Liz, who was third to go.
“He does struggle with the flying changes and they weren’t perfect today, but I hoped we’d done enough to claw into high 20s. But I was thrilled with the horse.”
The experienced 17-year-old Park Trader lies third for his owners Carl and Cassandra Segal and US rider Buck Davidson, the only pilot with three rides here at Kentucky this week.
“Park Trader is maybe not fantastic in this phase, but he is really maturing and getting better,” said Buck. “He did as well as he can possibly do and made no mistakes. Maybe if we’d been a bit later I’d have got a slightly better score, but I’m happy with 32.1.”
Buck also holds fifth on Kathleen and Roberto Cuca’s Jak My Style, who he said “did every movement better than he knows how”.
Another debutante, 24-year-old Hallie Coon, is sandwiched between Buck’s rides in fourth. She rides her own and her mother Helen’s Celien, with whom she made her top-level debut at Pau last year.
“I could have planned a bit more for some movements, but I’m happy with the horse and think she’s got a better score in her,” she said.
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One pair will take no further part in the competition after being eliminated by the ground jury at this afternoon's
Britain’s three competitors all do their dressage tomorrow. Piggy French (Quarrycrest Echo) starts at 10.08am local time (3.08pm British time), Leslie Law (Voltaire De Tre’) goes at 11.08am local time (4.08pm British time) and defending champion Oliver Townend (Cooley Master Class) heads down the centre line at 1.32pm (6.32pm).
Check back for more updates from Kentucky. Full report in Horse & Hound magazine next week (issue dated 2 May 2019).