British top three after Kentucky five-star cross-country – despite two long routes for leader

  • Tom McEwen maintains his lead after the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country, heading a British one-two-three at the top of the five-star rankings.

    The British double Olympic medallist described JL Dublin as “incredible” after their round, in which they clocked up four time-penalties. Just two pairs came home inside the optimum time today.

    “I was cruising the first part, it felt more like an intermediate – we were absolutely flying around and well up on time,” said Tom, going on to describe the blip that led to an unplanned long route at the EEI Root Cellar at 15abc, which consisted of a big drop and then two arrowheads.

    “It was my fault – I thought I was in a good balance but I let him a bit free off the step. If you come off a bit quick you can end up sometimes a bit dead on the floor, which is exactly what happened, and then I came into the first brush on a half stride. He was great there and rather than take on that long two strides to the next arrowhead, I had plenty of time, so I thought I’d go long.”

    The Brit said the horse picked up the rest of the round brilliantly, but he then had to take another alternative at the Park Question at 23abcde, where riders took on a rail, down to a ditch, then two angled hedges on the direct route.

    Tom said: “I went to balance and we were in trot so I thought it probably wasn’t my best decision to keep going straight however much I wanted to so I just popped the long route there. Overall he was excellent, very quick, straight as a die and he felt amazing.”

    Tom added that the track was “very fair for the horses but very much a rider’s track” and perhaps some underestimated it before riding round.

    Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country: tight behind Tom McEwen

    Tom’s score of 28.6 with JL Dublin, who belongs to Jo and James Lambert and Deirdre Johnston, means he does not have a showjump in hand over the two Brits grouped closely behind him. This pair were second here at Kentucky last year and third at Pau Horse Trials, so they are looking to complete the set of five-star podium places with the top spot tomorrow.

    Yasmin Ingham maintains second on Banzai Du Loir, after recording 5.6 time-faults, and Oliver Townend has moved up from equal eighth to third on Cooley Rosalent, who finished just one second over the optimum.

    Thoroughbreds hold fourth and fifth – US-based New Zealander Monica Spencer sits fourth on Artist, who finished two seconds over the time, and Mia Farley is the best of the home side in fifth after a clear inside the time on Phelps.

    Germany’s Christoph Wahler recorded the other fault-free round on D’Accord and holds sixth. Lauren Nicholson (Vermiculus) and Liz Halliday (Cooley Nutcracker) were equal third after dressage but time-faults today cost them a few places and they are now seventh and eighth.

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