By Nancy Jaffer
A brilliantly calibrated cross-country ride from Zara Tindall on High Kingdom at Rolex Kentucky this afternoon (29 April) moved the British rider up from 16th after dressage to third place, within striking distance of the leaders.
Germany’s Olympic champion, Michael Jung, going for his third straight victory in the four-star with FischerRocana FST, went from second after dressage to first place when the overnight leader, Clark Montgomery of the US, had two refusals with Loughan Glen at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Michael didn’t think his mare was at her best in the hot, humid weather, however, and accumulated 1.6 time-penalties to bring his total to 38.7 penalties — less than two showjumping fences ahead of Zara’ s 46.6-penalty total. She was clocked at one second under the optimum time of 11 minutes, 17 seconds for the 28-obstacle route designed by Derek di Grazia, who will also lay out the cross-country for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Zara is less than a rail away from second-placed Maxime Livio of France, who also recorded a clear in the time on Qalao Des Mers to finish the day on his dressage score of 46.6 penalties.
Asked about her ride, Zara said of High Kingdom, “He was travelling really good, and actually, we were a little bit ahead [of time] as we were coming to 23 [the four-part Park Question obstacle] so we could cruise home a bit.”
She called the ground “incredible,” saying she had done “a rain dance in my room” Friday evening in hopes a shower could soften the turf. It worked. There was rain overnight, and a bit during the cross-country as well.
Zara was very happy to actually ride cross-country at Kentucky, after having to withdraw High Kingdom before dressage two years ago when he was off during her warm-up after injuring himself in the stables.
Asked about her prospects for tomorrow’s finale, Zara said, “He’s a good jumper. Hopefully he’s in good form in the morning.” While she is close to Michael on the scoreboard, she noted wryly, “not close enough,” since he is quite an accurate showjumper.
More eventing news:
Zara was the only British rider to travel from overseas to compete at Rolex. James Alliston, a California-based Brit who was 39th after dressage, had a fall with Parker at the first fence of the Head of the Lake complex and was eliminated.
Irish rider Tim Bourke, also based in the US, stands ninth with Luckaun Quality after a penalty-free round that has him on 57.2 penalties.
Full report of Kentucky in H&H next week, plus 16-page essential guide to Badminton.