Rolex KY 3-Day Event

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By Nancy Brannon

Michael Jung made it a triple! Jung won the Rolex KY 3-Day Event for the third time in a row – 2015, 2016, and 2017! He has never been defeated at this venue, also winning the World Championship in 2010.

The exciting 2017 installment of the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day event was held April 27-30 at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park. A record number of spectators watched the Four-Star Eventing action this year at Kentucky, with 34,000 attending cross country and 24,000 at the stadium jumping finale. The Four Star CCI event is one of only six four-star international events offering the highest level of competition in the FEI Classics™. Next year, 2018, will mark the 40th year of this famous event at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Every phase made a difference in the order, even from day one to day two of dressage. This year, 59 horses out of 60 passed the first horse inspection to begin the 3-phase competition. The ground jury of Christina Klingspor of Sweden (President), Nick Burton of Great Britain, and David Lee of Ireland evaluated the fitness of horses from the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Germany, Australia, France, New Zealand and Mexico.

After the first day of Dressage, Thursday April 27, Jessica Phoenix (CAN) rose to the top on Don Good’s Pararotti with a score of 43.1. However, Jessica came back on day two of dressage, Friday April 28, bettering her score with 43.0 on Bentley’s Best. But it was Clark Montgomery (USA) who led the field after both days of Dressage, with a score of 33.6 on Loughan Glen.  Michael Jung and his mare RischerRocana FST were a close second. Results after Dressage:

1: Clark Montgomery, Loughan Glen, 33.6
2: Michael Jung, FischerRocana FST, 37.1
3: Kim Severson, Cooley Cross Border, 41.0
4: Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp, Fernhill By Night, 41.3
5: Jessica Phoenix, Bentley’s Best, 43.0
6: Jessica Phoenix, Pavarotti, 43.1
7: Lauren Kieffer, Vermiculus, 43.8
8: Maxime Livio, Qalao des Mers, 44.6
9: Phillip Dutton, Fernhill Fugitive and Mr. Medicott, both with 44.8

Friday was a bittersweet day for Allison Springer, who had made the tough decision to retire her horse Arthur from competition. Her 18-year-old horse has an aortic arrhythmia. But the two shone in their “valedictory performance” as the last to go in dressage, riding their stunning test in the Rolex arena one last time, receiving a standing as they finished.

The leaderboard changed dramatically after Cross Country on Saturday, over Derek di Grazia’s challenging course, with lots of “questions” and a tight optimum time of 11 minutes 17 seconds. After all the rounds, Michael Jung was in the lead on FischerRocana FST with no jumping faults, but 1.6 time penalties. Maxime Livio went clear with no time penalties on Qalao Des Mers, closing the gap on Jung. Zara Tindall, on High Kingdom, also went clear with no time penalties to move up to third place.

There were 26 clear rounds from the 42 finishers and only six within the optimum time. Dressage leaders Clark Montgomery (USA) and Loughan Glen lost their chance of retaining their position with a disappointing refusal at a skinny brush at fence 18a.

Three other riders in contention after dressage also disappeared off the leaderboard: both Kim Severson (USA), third on Cooley Cross Border, and Jessica Phoenix (CAN), fifth on Bentley’s Best, retired after run-outs at corners, and Elizabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA), fourth, parted company from Fernhill By Night at the Normandy Bank. Boyd Martin also parted company from Steady Eddie, as the horse’s hind legs just slipped out from under him on the downhill turn at fence 20, the Normandy Bank. Both horse and rider were unhurt.

Jung had some out of character “unbalanced” moments going through the Head of the Lake. On the big drop going into the lake, he was back, as one should be, but stayed back, not regaining his balance until the pair were coming out of the water. Jung was still “behind” over the fish in the lake, but the mare just stayed focused on doing her job, finding the jumps right on stride.

Results after Cross Country:

1: Michael Jung, /FischerRocana FST, 38.7
2: Maxime Livio, Qalao Des Mers, 44.6
3: Zara Tindall, High Kingtom, 46.6
4: Matthew Brown, Super Socks BCF, 47.8
5: Hannah Sue Burnett, Under Suspection, 50.8
6: Phillip Dutton, Mr. Medicott, 53.6
7: Doug Payne, Vandiver, 53.8
8: Phillip Dutton, Fernhill Fugutive, 54.0
9: Tim Bourke, Luckaun Quality, 57.2
10: Boyd Martin, Cracker Jack, 57.4

At the final horse inspectionon Sunday morning, 42 horses and riders finished the cross-country phase, and 40 came forward for the final inspection. One horse was spun, leaving 39 to move forward to the stadium jumping. Vandiver, Doug Payne’s horse who was in 7th, was held for re-inspection, but did not pass the second inspection.

On Sunday afternoon, Richard Jeffrey’s Stadium Jumping course proved another strong challenge, both with jumping questions and a tight time limit. Strong winds were an additional force on the course. It was over mid-way through the first group of riders that spectators saw the first clear round within the time limit – from Will Faudree and Pfun. Kurt martin and Delux Z had a clear round within the time to finish in 9th place. Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott, in the second group of riders, was only the third clear round but had one time penalty. The pair finished fourth. Dutton told commentator Karen O’Connor that Mr. Medicott is “the best horse I’ve ever sat on!”

The pressure was on the last three riders, those holding third, second, and first positions. Zara Tindall and High Kingdom didn’t disappoint, performing a clear round with no penalties to finish on just their dressage score: 46.6. The pair had also been double clear on cross country.

Maxime Livio and Qalao des Mers, who had defeated Jung at Pau last October, were probably hoping to defeat Jung again at Kentucky. Livio and his horse put in a flawless performance, maintaining their second place on just their dressage score 44.6, also having gone double clear on cross country.

As Jung and FischerRocana entered the stadium, Jung could afford one rail down to keep the lead, but no time penalties. Everything was going well for Jung and the lovely mare until the middle element of the last triple, dropping a pole. He was clear over the last fence within the time – winning the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event for the third time on a score of 42.7, tallying 1.6 time penalties on cross country and 4 jumping penalties in stadium, added to his dressage score of 37.1.

Commentator Karen O’Connor observed that Jung is “a rider who rides in the moment; he makes things happen.” The Kentucky three-peat was Jung’s 10th four-star win. Just hours after his triumph on American soil, Jung was catching a flight to England en route to defending his title at Badminton next weekend.

Find complete information about the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event at: A great feature was live streaming of the event. Also find the “Rolex” on facebook at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

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