Tamie Smith scores best in Friday’s dressage at Kentucky; Oliver Townend ‘close enough’ with two in top five *H&H Plus*

  • Find out how second-placed Tamie Smith is feeling about the cross-country and why Oliver Townend was disappointed after his test on Ballaghmor Class…

    By Nancy Jaffer 

    American rider Tamie Smith put in a marvellous test with Mai Baum today (23 April) to sit second in the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event 2021 dressage results. Tamie’s score put her within 0.1 of a penalty of tying with her compatriot, Marilyn Little, who continues to lead the five-star on RF Scandalous with her 21.7 penalty mark from the first day of competition.

    Tamie, who is first in the concurrent four-star with EnVogue, gave notice from the very beginning of her five-star test that she would be a contender with Mai Baum, when 81% flashed on the scoreboard as she started the medium trot on the diagonal with the dazzling black 15-year-old German Sport Horse.

    And Mai Baum, who is making his five-star debut, jumps as well as he handles dressage. Although some competitors have expressed concern about Derek di Grazia’s technical cross-country course, spread out artfully at the Kentucky Horse Park, Tamie isn’t one of them.

    “He’s very well-prepared,” she said of the horse nicknamed Lexus, which fits his sleek and stylish look.

    Tamie’s result pushed Oliver Townend from second place to third on Cooley Master Class, the Kentucky event’s two-time winner who was second yesterday with a 24.1-penalty test. But he brought in reinforcements by riding Ballaghmor Class to fifth place with 26.5 penalties.

    Kentucky Three-Day Event 2021 dressage results: Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class

    Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class are fifth after dressage at Kentucky 2021. Credit: Nancy Jaffer

    Although he is well positioned with his second ride, Oliver admitted he was a little disappointed with the Irish Sport Horse he originally had pointed toward Badminton.

    “He can do so much more,” he explained, citing a bit of imperfection in the halts. “The last time he did that particular test he was on 20.8. That’s life and horses. It’s a three-day event, so we’re still close enough. Hopefully, the course will cause trouble, which I think it will.”

    More Brits in top 20 in Kentucky Three-Day Event 2021 dressage results

    William Fox-Pitt, who rode yesterday, now stands ninth with Oratorio on 27.9 penalties.

    Harry Meade, who also competed today, is 17th on Superstition with a mark of 29.6. He is delighted with his first visit to Kentucky.

    “I love it,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to come here. I live 10 minutes from Badminton, so obviously there’s a lot of family history there. That’s why I haven’t made the trip over before. As soon as Badminton was cancelled, the first thing I did was say, ‘Right. This is our chance. We’re off to Kentucky.’”

    First impression?

    “The place is the most British park you could find anywhere in the world. Lovely rolling green hills. I love the whole of Kentucky, flying in and seeing all the stud farms is amazing. You couldn’t want a more attractive setting for a three-day event. You can’t help but be inspired,” noted Harry, who also was impressed by how friendly everyone has been.

    It’s the first five-star for Superstition, a 12-year-old British Hanoverian Harry owns with Mandy Gray.

    “Not having a big aim last year was no bad thing for him. We developed a really good partnership,” said Harry, who arranged a “slightly unorthodox” warm-up today.

    “I gave him a gallop this morning, then got into my tailcoat and gave him a little jump, changed the saddle and came straight down here,” said Harry, after leaving the dressage arena. “He’s an internalizer. He can bottle up. It was just to try to get him breathing.”

    In the test, “he started to get a little keen going toward medium canter in his right half-pass. But otherwise, I was very pleased with him.”

    Harry has recovered from a horrendous fall last October, when he was dragged and his helmet was destroyed.

    “There’s been a lot of time and having to be patient and not doing more than you can, which for an event rider is not a normal character trait. It’s been a slow process,” he mentioned. “We got here and obviously my big aim was to come back and go to the spring five-star. That was what was motivating me and I feel like I’m nearly there in recovery.”

    The other riders who came over from Britain share Harry’s feeling about being lucky to ride at Kentucky.

    World Class eventing performance manager Dickie Waygood noted with all of the 2021 challenges, from Covid to Brexit and Badminton’s cancellation, “It feels like a bit of a circus. It was quite a monumental effort to get here. It was right up to the last minute when the horses and riders were on the plane. It’s fantastic that we are here. There were a lot more hoops to jump through than there normally would be. There’s very strict rules of protocol to follow.”

    But it’s worth it to be in Kentucky, he believes.

    “It’s a great event. When you come here, you know the field of play is going to be really good. You’re competing on surfaces for the dressage and jumping as you would be at a Games. The (cross-country) course is built by the same designer that you’ve got at the [Tokyo Olympic] Games. It’s a proper five-star track, the intensity is from beginning to end. If you’re down on the clock, I don’t know where you’d catch up. You have to be light of foot and quick of mind.”

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