‘I hope the judges don’t have a good night’s sleep!’ – leading riders react to poor dressage scores at Kentucky

  • The leading riders after the first day of Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event dressage agreed that the judging had been harsh but consistent.

    “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring with the dressage judging – they were hard but consistent today, but I hope they don’t get a very good night’s sleep [and give better scores tomorrow],” joked home-side rider Tamie Smith, who holds top spot on a score of 32.9 with Judith McSwain’s 13-year-old Fleeceworks Royal.

    “She did such a beautiful test – she was super rideable, with positive tension. I couldn’t ask any more of her. I am disappointed with the score – it wasn’t a bad test and for me, 32 is a bad score. I hope it’s the same for everyone.”

    Tamie has had Fleeceworks Royal since she was a three-year-old.

    “It’s special to sit on a horse I’ve produced from the beginning,” she said. “Judith was my first owner, she’s been there tried and true the whole time and we’ve produced many horses together.

    “I saw her this morning and she’s so happy she almost can’t talk. It’s been a dream of ours to have an American-bred horse here that we’ve produced.

    “Fleeceworks Royal is a tomboy, not mare-ish. She has had hiccups here and there, and there’s stuff she’s been through – things you’ve never even heard of happen to her. But she keeps fighting and comes back stronger. She’s feisty and I love her.”

    Colleen Rutledge, who sits second at this stage of the Kentucky Three-Day Event dressage, concurred with Tamie’s view of the judging by the ground jury of Nick Burton, Gretchen Butts and Christian Steiner: “I agree with Tamie – they are judging very tough, but they are very consistent and I hope it stays the same tomorrow.”

    Doug Payne was the second rider into the arena today, before the judging trend had been identified, and was the first of many to be pleased with his horse but disappointed with the score. His 34.9 on his Tokyo Olympic ride, Debi Crowley and his own and his wife Jessica’s Vandiver, left him third at the end of the day.

    Doug said: “We’ve been working on getting him supple, loose and relaxed and that’s the best he’s been in the ring. I couldn’t be happier with him, but how could I not be disappointed with the score? It was certainly a better test than Tokyo, but the mark is two points worse.”

    Colleen scored 33.8 to hold second ahead of Doug with her home-bred Covert Rights, owned by his rider and FSG Inc.

    “I’m probably my harshest critic and there were multiple places I left points on the board – including an inability to halt [in the middle of the test] and I blew the second change, but he’s such a good consistent creature. My whole goal was to play and have a good time and I feel like we did that.

    He almost relaxed a bit too much in the arena, but you can’t fault that, if they go into the Rolex arena and get more relaxed.”

    Elisa Wallace (Let It Be Lee) and Alexandra Knowles (Morswood) share fourth, with Britain’s Pippa Funnell the first rider who isn’t from the home side in sixth on Majas Hope.

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