The British rider was piloting the 11-year-old home-bred Corouet – owned by Sarah, her husband Brett and the Kew Jumping Syndicate – around his first five-star.
The pair had a risky moment at the first serious combination on course, the Park Question (fence 7abc), when the horse caught a leg on the first element, cat-leapt the ditch and somehow managed to clear the fence out.
Sarah then had to seriously hang on when he took off at the corner at the bottom of the slope into Pete’s Hollow (fence 13b) a stride early. She managed to stay in the saddle and displayed quick thinking to steer to the alternative element c without crossing her tracks.
It looked like the pair were on track to come home without penalties, but the final combination proved one question too many when the take-off spot wasn’t quite right at the brush-topped box into the Mighty Moguls (fence 26a) and Corouet stopped.
“He didn’t give me the easiest ride,” said Sarah. “He was over-jumping a bit and being silly, spooking at the ribbons on the crossings and people sitting down. He was just wasting a lot of energy and going ridiculously high over fences.
“But he was also fantastic – at the first water, in fact all the waters, he was fabulous and at all the technical fences.
“I think he just got a little bit tired at the end and it was one question too many. I perhaps should have broken him [his rhythm] up a little bit from the last oxer before turning. I didn’t have the perfect shot I wanted and whereas normally he would just have taken it on, I think he just was feeling a little bit tired and was like, ‘Actually, I can’t’. Sadly it happens.
“He will have learnt massively from the experience and his day will come. He is an out and out five-star horse, he has proved that, and sadly this weekend wasn’t his weekend, but maybe next time.”
The pair finished with 18.8 time-faults and sit in 24th place overnight after the Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country.
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.