William Fox-Pitt kept his composure in Rolex Kentucky’s hot and tense main stadium to win the CCI**** with Bay My Hero.
This victory is William’s 3rd at this US event and it follows successes in 2012 (Parklane Hawk) and 2010 (Cool Mountain), plus it marks a milestone 53rd 3-day win for the rider.
But Britain’s number 1 rider was left with no room for error after Lauren Kieffer and Veronica belied their inexperience at this level to pull off an accomplished clear round within the tight optimum time of 84sec.
“The crowd went wild for Lauren and Bay My Hero tried to leg it back up the chute. I must admit that I felt the same and at that point I would have settled for 2nd,” said William, who has added Catherine Witt’s horse to his list of WEG possibles.
“It’s very exciting to have him performing so well here, which has put him in the mix, but [the WEG] is a long way off and although he’s got every chance he’s the least experienced of all my horses at this stage.”
3 American riders capitalised on clear rounds and rose up the order during a phase that produced a significant shuffling of the placings.
Bruce Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM finished 3rd; Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville were 4th and Marilyn Little and RF Smoke On The Water occupied 5th slot. The former showjumper, though, found herself going in the opposite direction with RF Demeter, who dislodged the final part of the treble 3 fences from home to drop from 4th to 6th.
Jan Byyny can call her comeback complete now that she has secured a top 10 Rolex placing. The rider who suffered a serious head injury at Pine Top Horse Trials in 2010 piloted her 2013 Fairhill winner Inmidair into 7th slot.
Phillip Dutton was 8th with Boyd Martin’s Trading Aces, just in front of William Fox-Pitt and Seacookie TSF who left all 13 fences in the main arena intact.
Andrew Nicholson and Avebury disappeared from the business end of the leaderboard in dramatic fashion with 6 fences down, including all 3 parts of the treble, which the grey clambered over.
Day one dressage leaders Michael Pollard and Mensa G suffered a similar fate, adding 12 faults to their previously healthy 5th-placed score.
In a successful event for the British, despite being hopelessly outnumbered by riders from the home nation, Sarah Bullimore justified her UK Sport/Lottery funded trip by slotting into 13th place with a clear round aboard Reve Du Rouet.
James Alliston, contesting his 4th Rolex with Parker, finished 22nd after being anchored by a poor dressage performance. Parker is the California-based rider’s only top horse at present after he sold Jumbo’s Jake and has Tivoli on the injury list.
Alice Dunsdon has now ticked off 4 out of her 6 wish-list 4-star events by finishing 32nd with Fernhill Present, who dislodged the first show jump.
“I’ve had an amazing time,” she said. “It’s lovely to compete in such a packed stadium in front of a crowd who cheer you even though you’re British.”
Rolex Kentucky Horse Trials 2014 final results
1. William Fox-Pitt/Bay My Hero (GBR), 44
2. Lauren Kieffer/Veronica (USA), 46.7
3. Buck Davidson/Ballynoe Castle RM (USA), 51.7
4. Sinead Halpin/Manoir De Carneville (USA), 51.7
5. Marilyn Little/RF Smoke On The Water (USA), 52.5
6. Marilyn Little/RF Demeter (USA), 55.3
7. Jan Byyny/Inmidair (USA), 56.7
8. Phillip Dutton/Trading Aces (USA), 57.5
9. William Fox-Pitt/Seacookie TSF (GBR), 59.1
10. Selena O’Hanlon/Foxwood High (CAN), 59.4
13. Sarah Bullimore/Reve Du Rouet (GBR), 60.7
22. James Alliston/Parker (GBR), 77.2
32. Alice Dunsdon/Fernhill Present (GBR), 107.4