Martin Marches to Top of Kentucky CCI4*-S Dressage Day 1

Boyd Martin and Commando 3 save the best for last and sit in the top spot of the 2024 Cosequin Lexington Kentucky CCI4*-S.
U.S. eventer Boyd Martin and Commando 3 are at the top of the leaderboard after the 2024 Cosequin Lexington Kentucky CCI4*-S Dressage Day 1 at the Kentucky Three-Day Event. ©Amy K.Dragoo

Three-time Olympian Boyd Martin (USA) says Commando 3 has a big personality. “He’s like a bit of a rock star. A bit of a prima donna. Loves people doting over him. Then when he’s feeling fresh, he’ll use any excuse to jump around a bit. He’s just a horse that has so much quality that you sort of put up with his antics and know that he’s a champion when it comes to the competitions.”

That strategy paid off in the 2024 Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S at the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event, Thursday, April 25. The last to ride in the first day of the CCI4* dressage, Martin and Commando captured first place with a score of 28.9.

Not far behind them were fellow Olympian Will Coleman (USA) and Diabolo with a score of 29.9. Coleman also sits in third place with his veteran Off The Record with a score of 30.1.

The Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S is at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. It runs April 25-28. The total number of dressage rides on Thursday was 32. Dressage continues on Friday with the remaining 31 horse-and-rider combinations.

Martin and Commando 3

Martin commented that he had a few mistakes in his test. He added that his wife and dressage rider Silva Martin and dressage trainer Bettina Hoy of Germany pointed them out. “Dressage is a funny sport where it’s very hard to get a perfect round,” Martin said. “He’s a very, very impressive horse, so when things aren’t perfect, he still gets great scores just because he’s got so much presence and extravagance, and he’s a real pleasure to ride.”

Martin said he’s been working with Hoy on improvements with Commando. “The biggest thing is trying to get his body to let go. He’s such a big mover and trying to make sure that he’s using his topline and back muscles. Trying to get him to show off a bit but without any sort of mistakes.”

Already looking forward to course designer Derek di Grazia’s CCI4*-S track on Saturday, Martin said, “It looks like about what I expected. Sort of like a five-star over six minutes. A couple very hard jumps. Nothing my two horses haven’t seen.” Martin rides Fedarman B in CCI4* dressage on Friday. He also rides On Cue in the Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* dressage Friday.

Will Coleman and Diabolo

Will Coleman (USA) and Diabolo are in second place after the 2024 Cosequin Lexingon Kentucky
CCI4*-S Dressage Day 1. ©Amy K. Dragoo

Coleman was happy with his ride on Diabolo. “That’s the greener of my horses here. The greenest. We’ve only had him about a year. We have high hopes for him, but he’s still a little bit of a work in progress for us,” he said. “But I’m really lucky to have him in my stable. I’ve got a great group of people who came together to acquire him, and I think we’re going in the right direction, and we’re just trying to be patient with him.”

The horse has a wonderful character, according to Coleman. “He’s a horse who really wants to give you 1,000 percent. Sometimes I think that’s a little bit what makes him tricky is that he’s almost trying too hard and worries himself by overthinking things a bit,” Coleman said. “He needs a lot of confidence and that’s what we’re trying to give him. I think as his balance has improved, his confidence has as well. He’s more prepared to do what he’s asked for. So, I think we’re going to continue along those lines.”

To help with Diabolo’s balance, Coleman said the key is flatwork. “It’s teaching him a little bit how to find his back legs and trust that he can carry himself there,” Coleman said. “That’s one part strength and one part having the mental understanding to do it. But it’s coming. It’s patient work. It’s not something you turn around in a few minutes. You just got to trust the process and stay the course.”

Coleman and Off The Record

Coleman was also pleased with his second horse, 15-year-old Off The Record, and their third-place standing. Especially since the early morning temperatures hovered just above freezing. “There was some really good stuff in there with ‘Timmy’ today. It’s 30-something degrees. I couldn’t feel my fingers through the test. The cold weather wouldn’t be the ideal thing for Timmy’s old back. He was fine. He got a little anticipatory to the second change. Overall, I’m not unhappy with it. It’s kind of Timmy, and he’s got two more days to go. We look forward to those.”

The reason Coleman is riding Timmy in the CCI4*-S and not the CCI5* is because of the Paris Olympics this summer. “This year we wanted to try to prepare him to be an option for Paris. Given his age, I thought doing a five star and then trying to turn him around to do that the end of July would be a lot for him at this stage of his life. So we chose the four short as a way to have him peak in mid-summer if he’s needed.”

Boyd Martin and Commando 3 save the best for last and sit in the top spot of the 2024 Cosequin Lexington Kentucky CCI4*-S.
Will Coleman (USA) and Off The Record sit in third place after the 2024 Cosequin Lexington Kentucky CCI4*-S Dressage Day 1 at the Kentucky Three-Day Event. ©Amy K. Dragoo

Cross-Country Thoughts

Coleman says the cross-country course will be a good challenge for Diabolo. “He’s got a really big stride and he’s a keen horse. There are just places there you have to make sure the horse is really listening and doesn’t get barreling along. They could get a little bit into trouble missing a line or a key place to have them balanced. It’s a good cross-country course … a typical Derek [di Grazia] course. A thinking course. But he’s a good horse and I think he should cope with it if I do my job.

“It’s a lot happening in a very quick succession,” Coleman continued. “So it feels like a very challenging short course. It’s going to be a good test for the horses. [di Grazia] asks questions from start to finish. You have a pretty big water at Fence 4 and then on out, it’s combination after combination. Sort of the modern sport.”

For complete results of the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S, click here. Friday’s dressage begins at 8 a.m. For the ride times for the remaining riders, click here.

Thanks to Cosequin for our coverage of the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event. It includes rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more.

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