US rider beats pressure to lead Kentucky dressage; Zara Tindall in the mix for Britain

  • By Nancy Jaffer

    German eventing superstar Michael Jung, who is seeking his third straight victory at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event with FischerRocana FST, found himself settling for second place in the standings behind the USA’s Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen after the dressage phase concluded on Friday (28 April).

    Clark, who was based in Great Britain for several years, turned in a wow of test that gave him a score of 33.6 penalties and resounding cheers from a highly partisan crowd of 13,402 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

    “We know this horse can do a really good test. There’s always a lot of pressure to try and reproduce that every time you go into the ring,” said Clark.

    Loughan Glen wasn’t himself at the Rio Olympics, where hopes were high that he could lead the US team to a medal. Clark retired on cross-country when the gelding wasn’t going well, and it was revealed a bone chip in his knee was bothering him. That has been removed, so Clark is optimistic that the handsome bay is in top shape to tackle Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course. He is, of course, wary about the forecast of 30ºC temperatures, since Loughan Glen isn’t fond of the heat.

    Michael, who did not watch Clark’s test before entering the arena, said his mare was relaxed after being nervous during ring familiarisation yesterday. While he heard Clark’s score, he didn’t see the American’s test.

    “FischerRocana was very nice to ride, very relaxed, so I can try to go forward and push her a little bit to very good marks. I think it was a very good test for her, but maybe not good enough,” said Michael.

    Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp, an American who is primarily based in England, turned in a stellar 41.3-penalty performance with the dynamic Fernhill By Night to stand fourth, behind another US rider, Kim Severson with Cooley Cross Border (41 penalties). Kim was a three-time winner of Rolex in 2002, 2004 and 2005 with Winsome Adante, but Cooley Cross Border is her best horse in years.

    Tindall in 16th

    Zara Tindall, the only British rider to come across the Atlantic for Kentucky this year, stands 16th on High Kingdom with a mark of 46.6 penalties.

    She was just happy to be able to perform her test. Two years ago, High Kingdom injured himself in the stables and dropped out in the dressage warm-up after coming up lame.

    “It’s great to get in the arena today,” said Zara. “A couple of things could have been a bit better, but I was really happy with him. He’s not really fussed about this phase. He thinks it’s a bit boring. Physically, he doesn’t cope with holding himself for that long.

    “I’m looking forward to tomorrow — he loves the cross country and he’s a great jumper. The course looks amazing. Time will definitely be an issue, you’ll have to make sure you’re on your minute markers.”

    More eventing news…

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    After the competition, Michael Jung — the first person to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley since Pippa Funnell did it in 2003 — was presented with a three-quarter-size replica of the perpetual trophy for achieving the sweep in 2015-2016.

    Full report from Kentucky in H&H next week (on sale 4 May), plus 16-page essential pull-out guide to Badminton.

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