Townend Takes Fourth Kentucky CCI5* Title

Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and Cooley Rosalent move up to win the 2024 Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* title.
Oliver Townend takes his fourth Kentucky CCI5* title at the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event. This time it’s with Cooley Rosalent. © Amy K. Dragoo

Although Paul Ridgeon has sponsored Olympic eventer Oliver Townend and other top riders, such as New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson, he had yet to own a horse that had won a five-star.

That changed Sunday when Townend (GBR) and Cooley Rosalent won the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian on Sunday. They entered the show-jumping phase in third place and then jumped a double-clear show-jumping round. Their final score was 31.8. Townend then had to wait for two of his fellow countrymen to ride their show-jumping rounds.

Yasmin Ingham and Bonzai Du Loir, who were in second going into show jumping, had a rail for a final score of 35.6. Then overnight leader Tom McEwen also had a rail for a final score of 33.8. McEwen finished second and Ingham third.

Townend said he was happier for Ridgeon than himself. “For him to finally get a five star win under his, under his belt. I mean, he’s had lots of achievements with an incredible amount of horses, but for Paul to have won a five star at 92, I think is as special for him as it is for, for me.”

Twenty-three horse-and-rider combinations jumped Steve Stephens show-jumping track. Only two riders jumped double-clear. U.S. rider Lauren Nicholson, who placed fifth, earned the Defender/USEF CCI5*-L National Championship, riding Vermiculus.

Oliver Townend and Cooley Rosalent

Townend said Rosalent was “unbelievable” in the show jumping, something he felt in the schooling arena during the warm-up. “I just thought out here she was nearly trying too hard. That’s when you know you’ve got a very good one. When after they’ve really put their heart and soul into the cross country the day before and they still come out and know their job and want to do their job,” he said. “I thought, Good girl, whatever happens, you know, we’re going to be alright in the future.

Rosalent was the first horse Ridgeon has sent to the United States. Townend said Ridgeon wasn’t that enthused about paying to send Rosalent across the pond at first, so he was initially relieved that the decision had paid off.

Townend called Ridgeon shortly after he won. I gave him a proper jab and said, I told you we should have brought it here.

As far as Townend’s favorite moment of the competition, he said, “Just the horse’s performance, especially coming across the finish line of the cross country, because I thought, although she’s done a good bit before, Yeah, you are the real deal that we’ve always thought you were.

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin

Tom McEwen (GBR) and JL Dublin earned second at the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*. ©Amy K. Dragoo

McEwen was delighted with Dublin’s performance, but “gutted” with the second-place finish. “I’m sure I’ll beat myself up about it,” he said. The pair had a rail down in show jumping that cost them the win. “It was a shame yesterday coming up with the lead and having a bit of hand over to Oliver. The horse was fantastic and showed what he is for the Olympic team and where he’s at. He’s an amazing jumper. It was just one of those days.”

The weekend, however, helped cement the partnership he shares with Dublin. “He’s such a nice, polite, kind character. … It’s just taken a little bit of time for me to find a path with him.”

Yasmin Ingham and Bonzai Du Loir

Ingham, too, was gutted with having a rail down in show jumping. “I was very conscious of the time and maybe got a little forward around the turn,” she said. “And I should have maybe sat him back on his hocks a little bit more before the oxer. But hindsight’s a wonderful thing, and I’m sure I’ll be analyzing that video the whole way home.”

Ingham also values the lessons she and her horses learn in the pursuit of improving.

“Like I said earlier in the week, you learn from all the experiences, and I believe it makes me a stronger rider and a better competitor, a better person. And we’ll learn for next time, and hopefully we can get it done next time,” she said. “But at the end of the day, he’s had a fantastic week, and it’s not been our day today. But he certainly put out a very strong performance at the highest level of the sport and that’s what we came here to do is to really show ourselves.”

Yasmin Ingham and Bonzai Du Loir at the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*. ©Amy K. Dragoo

U.S. Champions Nicholson and Vermiculus

Nicholson said Vermiculus sat out much of last year. Because of that, “We came to feeling a touch rusty, because he hasn’t had a proper big audience. Especially because throughout his career, he hasn’t actually missed a season before,” she said.

But she still planned for them to be competitive. “I would have liked to beat this lot,” she said pointing to Townend, McEwen and Ingham at the press conference. “I was just very pleased—especially for such the fan following [Vermiculus] has, being such a character anyway—that I was able to deliver what he deserved to get on the day.” This is Nicholson’s third national championship win.

For complete results of the 2024 Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*, click here.

Read more about the CCI5* here:

  1. First Horse Inspection
  2. Dressage Day 1 Report
  3. Dressage Day 1 Photo Gallery
  4. Dressage Day 2 Report
  5. Dressage Day 2 Photo Gallery
  6. Sneek Peek: CCI5* Cross-Country Course
  7. Cross-Country Report
  8. Cross-Country Photo Gallery

Thanks to Mane ‘n Tail Equine 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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