British rider drops down order after Kentucky four-star cross-country

  • Britain’s Lucienne Bellissimo has dropped down the order in the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S after the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country day.

    The US-based rider was the joint leader overnight on Dyri, but had a run-out at the final element of the influential Le Chameau Park Question at fence 6abcde, where riders jumped a rail, down to a ditch, up a bank to a cabin and then one stride to an acutely angled brush.

    Lucienne said: “I’ve just been told he lost a front shoe at fence one and a hind shoe halfway around as well – poor horse – he kept feeling like he was sort of wanting to prop more than normal and I now realise why. He was being very genuine still to be jumping.

    “He is ditchy historically and he just didn’t read that last part at the Park Question – at least he jumped the first three and then he just ran out of ideas. I probably could have ridden it better, I maybe needed a little bit more left rein there just to hold him straight and absolutely say, ‘This is the only way you’re going.’

    “But I’m actually really impressed with how much once that had gone wrong, he recovered. Obviously, I went a bit slower then and he really did just keep trying.”

    Lucienne added she considered taking the longer route at the Park Question on Dyri, who runs in the ownership of her Horse Scout Eventing business, but said: “Ultimately, at some point, you’ve got to learn where the weak spots are. He was in the lead but I don’t want to take the easy route and not learn something because I really want to develop him to be a five-star horse. So I need to get him a little bit more accurate on his lines so next time we can go clear.”

    Lucienne retired her first horse, Tremanton, after a problem at the first element of the same fence.

    “She went to sort of take off and then saw the ditch and I think she just skidded, from what I can see on the video, and ended up with her front leg through the bottom rail,” said the rider. “She felt totally sound but she spooked herself so there was no point trying to carry on so, sadly, I took her home. We’ll get her confident again and try another day.”

    Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country: Liz Halliday takes lead

    Liz Halliday was equal first with Lucienne after dressage and now holds the lead, having finished with 3.2 time-penalties on Miks Master C. The 12-year-old, who belongs to Ocala Horse Properties and Deborah Palmer, was third in the five-star here last year and is a leading contender for a spot on the US team at the Paris Olympics.

    He is a strong horse across country and Liz had to balance getting close to the optimum and setting him up for the fences.

    “Luckily, he does gallop like a freak so you can make time up a bit in between, but he definitely was keen today,” said Liz. “However, he is an incredible athlete and he’s very quick on his feet. In the places where I didn’t quite have him where I wanted, I just softened and let him find his way and he was so quick on his feet.

    “That is the brilliant thing about ‘Mickey’ – he might be strong but he’s still incredible to fences and very calculating. He actually never ran off with me through a combination. That’s been the big step for him, if we compare it to the Pan Ams last year, is he was still very thoughtful through all the combinations here while being strong in between. That’s why he can keep going fast.”

    Liz also said she felt the horse could have benefited from one more prep run before Kentucky she will learn from that experience for the future with him.

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