Jung on top at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event
Germany's Michael Jung sits atop the leaderboard after the dressage phase of the competition
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/NEWS RELEASE) – In a surprise to absolutely no one, a familiar name, Germany’s Michael Jung, sits atop the leaderboard in the CCI5*-L at the conclusion of the dressage phase at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™.
Jung has already won this competition three times (in addition to collecting a plethora of Olympic and world championship medals along the way), so it felt familiar when he and fischerChipmunk FRH put in a characteristically near-perfect test to take the top spot on a score of 20.1. He has a healthy —but not insurmountable — lead over Great Britain’s Sarah Bullimore and Corouet (25.7) in second and USA’s Buck Davidson and Carlevo (27.4) in third.
“I’m very happy to be back here in Kentucky, it’s a beautiful place. I really enjoy it and my horses enjoy it,” Jung said. “It’s horse country, the stabling is nice, and it’s just super conditions for the horses to warm up and prepare them after their flight.”
He was also full of praise for his mount, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Sabine and Klaus Fischer, Hilmer Meyer-Kulenkampff and DOKR. “With fischerChipmunk I have real superstar, and I just enjoy riding (him),” he said. “He was really powerful but also really relaxed and in a very good balance. I’m very happy to have him, very thankful to the fischer crew for this amazing horse and very happy to be here with him for his first (CCI5*-L).”
Bullimore has only made one previous trip to the Bluegrass, but is equally thrilled to be here. “It’s a privilege to be back here, it’s just such a hospitable place and such fun to come here,” she said. “We don’t always get the opportunity to come here and I’m not getting younger so I grabbed this chance with both hands and I’m thrilled to be here. The park is fabulous, the track and everything, and everyone just bends over backwards to help you. It’s a lovely atmosphere and a lovely event.”
Bullimore is here aboard one of her own homebreds, the chestnut Corouet, who she bred from her own former upper level mount Lilly Corinne.
“I had a fabulous mare that went to the European Championships in 2015, we had already started breeding with her. (Corouet) is our first born, and it was nothing we’d done before but she was a fantastic mare and we thought why not,” Bullimore said, adding that she chose the sire Balou Du Rouet because she had another event horse sired by him. “I love what he produces … (and Corouet’s) got a mighty big attitude in a small package. But, we have continued breeding and have some lovely siblings coming behind him.”
Davidson’s mount Carlevo has been in his barn for a while, and Katherine O’Brien’s bay Holsteiner has long been good in the dressage, but Davidson admits he hasn’t always put an entire weekend together and he’s hoping some changes to his program will help him put in a top performance.
“He’s been very consistent on the first day and he feels to me better than he ever has,” Davidson said. “I was training some racehorses this winter and started feeding and training him like a racehorse and I’m hoping it pays off tomorrow. He was great today, he’s usually good on the first day.
“We added some more energy (and changed up his feeding),” Davidson continued. “He’s been a difficult horse to train, because when he’s fit he withers away to nothing, and we’ve struggled with keeping him fit with weight. It’s no secret he’s not the fastest horse here (but) he looks as good as he’s ever looked and feels as good as he’s ever felt. I’m not sure his galloping has changed at all but the feed has set him up hopefully for success.”
With the first phase behind them, it’s time for the riders to prepare for Saturday’s cross country test.
“Derek is very good at what he does,” Davidson said. “The fences are beautifully presented, it doesn’t look as big as it did last year … but it’s for sure tricky and the water at the end looks quite difficult. Maybe it doesn’t look as scary, but there is plenty to do and plenty of places to have a stupid, silly mistake.”
“Can I just say I’m on a tiny pony and it looks quite big to me,” joked Bullimore. “It’s a beautiful track. All the jumps are out there to go and jump and have a fantastic ride. There are a few lines that take you slightly off the line, places they’re a little offset where you could have a silly mistake, in a an otherwise fantastic ride.”
“It’s a really nice course, with beautifully built jumps,” Jung added. “It’s a super valid track. In the beginning it’s more hilly and twisty, but we have super conditions at the moment.”
The cross country phase, the heart of an eventing competitions kicks off tomorrow with the CCI4*-S at 9:00 a.m. and the CCI5*-L at 12:50.
In the morning’s CCI4*-S competition, the top of the leaderboard saw some shifting as new names appeared. USA’s Doug Payne and Starr Witness put in a smooth, superb effort to score an impressive 23.1 to take over the lead after the first phase.
Canadian Colleen Loach also had a smooth and powerful test to move into second on a score of 24.5. Yesterday’s leader, Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp was relegated to third aboard Cooley Quicksilver, who stands on his score of 25.7
Payne is a “multi-sport” athlete, who competes in eventing, dressage and show jumping, all at the FEI level. In fact, he’ll be competing in the Kentucky CSI3* show jumping competition this weekend in addition to his eventing duties.
Payne’s CCI4*-S mount Starr Witness, an 11-year-old Dutch warmblood mare owned by Catherine Winter, Laurie McRee and Payne, has spent most of the winter working on her dressage, and it showed in her nearly flawless performance.
“She is an altogether incredible talent,” Payne said. “After Tokyo (where Payne competed on his CCI5*-L mount Vandiver) … we knew she would not be doing a five-star this spring, so there was no real pressure to do a four-star last fall, so we took the time to try and improve her on the flat; to make her stronger, sharper and more flexible.
“She’s the type of horse that if you don’t challenge her she will look elsewhere for something to do,” Payne continued. “My personal goals have been to (be competitive) in all the sports, I have a silver medal with USDF, I want a gold and a Grand Prix horse and she will absolutely do it. Competing across disciplines is always my ultimate goal, to be able to show up in any sport and be competitive, and she can make it happen.”
Loach’s mount Vermont stands a towering 18.2 hands, and the Hanoverian gelding was originally meant to be a mount for his owner, Peter Barry, himself a former Olympian for Canada. However, shortly after purchasing the horse as a 5-year-old, Barry suffered a stroke that has kept him out of the saddle.
Loach was thrilled with the chestnut’s performance. “I know my horse can do it and I had to put pressure on myself to get it out of him,” she said. “I knew (Payne and Halliday-Sharp’s scores) would be hard to beat, but I hoped he could.”
Now the rider’s will turn their attention to Derek di Grazia’s cross country course.
“It’s a wonderful course, quite a bit different than last year,” Payne said. “In general, you’d say it’s a touch softer but, that said, I think the coffin is really hard and the Grand Slam Water is also a huge challenge, and I would expect to see problems with both.”
“I agree with (Payne),” Loach said. “It’s a completely different track, and it walks a touch softer but we’ll see how it rides.”
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™ (LRK3DE), April 28-May 1, 2022 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, hosts one of only seven annual Five Star three-day events in the world. The event also hosts a CCI4*-S as well as the $225,000 Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Known as “The Best Weekend All Year,” the event annually attracts more than 80,000 spectators who also enjoy extensive shopping, a variety of hospitality experiences and a wide array of demonstrations.
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is a thrilling multi-day competition featuring Olympic-level riders and horses in what can best be described as an equestrian triathlon. Horse and rider pairs compete in three phases of the competition – Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping. The Five Star riders compete for their share of $375,000 in prize money as well as a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, which is awarded to any rider who wins the Land Rover Kentucky, Badminton and Land Rover Burghley Five Star Events in succession. LRK3DE is the longest-running Five Star event in the Americas and as the United States’ premier event, also serves as the Land Rover/USEF CCI-5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™ for the U.S. athletes.
The $225,000 Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute takes place on Saturday, April 30, at 6:00 p.m. after the cross-country portion of the LRK3DE. As part of the competition, there will also be a $37,000 Welcome Speed Cup Ranking Class on Friday in the Rolex Stadium, after the day’s LRK3DE dressage competition.
Further information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event and the Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix is available at www.kentuckythreedayevent.com