On a sunny April day in Lexington, Kentucky, riders made their way out to the cross-country course at the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event to look at the task ahead of them. Competitors challenging the CCI5*-L were met with a 45-effort, 3.8 mile (6308 m) course designed by Derek di Grazia. As of Wednesday, 45 horse and rider combinations are set to tackle the sprawling track on Saturday with the goal of finishing clear and within the optimum time of 11 minutes and four seconds.
“Derek di Grazia has put up a proper five-star course here,” said 1981 and 1986 Rolex Kentucky International Three-Day Event winner Jim Wofford. “Some of the galloping fences are relatively low, but the combinations are relatively stiff for Derek. It’s a course that they’re going to get quite a few inside the time—five to eight riders inside the time here—if we don’t get torrential rain.” Wofford added, “He builds a very balanced course. If you have a horse that’s dishonest on one side, you’re going to get tested.”
Olympian Doug Payne, who is competing at the CCI5*-L level with two of his mounts, Vandiver and Quantum Leap, noted that the course is different than in years past. Specifically, the Land Rover Head of the Lake, which has a bending line to a corner in the water complex. “It’s going to require a super instinctual, reactive type of ride. There’s not a ton of straight up, predictable distances. Without a doubt, it will be a challenge, but I think it’s also very friendly to the horses,” said Payne.
Fellow U.S. Olympian Boyd Martin also tipped his hat to di Grazia’s track, but he has faith in his veteran Kentucky mount, Tsetserleg. “It’s very demanding from start to finish. It’s my job to give him a perfect ride and if I ride him well he should jump around well.” When asked if anything on course stands out to him, Martin replied that all of the jumps stand out, and rightfully so. “At the five-star level, you can’t sleep on anything. I learned that last year,” Martin joked about his unfortunate dismount at the 2021 event just three jumps from the finish line.
Returning to Kentucky for the first time since 2018 is Germany’s three-time Kentucky Three-Day Event winner, Michael Jung. “I’m very happy to be back here in beautiful Kentucky,” said Jung. The German rider previously claimed three consecutive wins at Kentucky with fischerRocana FST, but this year, he’s aboard fischerChipmunk FRH, his Tokyo Olympic Games mount. “He has super dressage, very good jumping and I think he’s very, very powerful in the cross-country. We just have no experience in the five-star level. This is our first five-star,” Jung shared.
As for the course, Jung commented, “The beginning looks a little bit twisty, very hilly. The end looks a bit more open. It’s a very nice build, nice jumps. A lot to jump, big jumps. Technical enough, I think, but very fair.”
Here’s a look at each fence CCI5*-L riders will face on the cross-country course on Saturday:
Fence 1: Red, White and Bluegrass
Fence 2: Market Table
Fence 3: Hillside Oxer
Fences 4AB: MARS Sustainability Bay
Fence 5: Mick’s Picnic Table
Fence 6: Triple Scoop
Fences 7ABC: Park Question
Fences 8AB: Fox Den
Fence 9: Whiskey Barrel Table
Fence 10: Ditch Brush
Fences 11ABC: EEI’s Challenge Accepted
Fence 12: Holyfield Oxer
Fences 13ABC: Pete’s Hollow
Fence 14: Shouldered Tables
Fence 15: Rolex Grand Slam Challenge
Fence 16ABC: Sunken Road
Fence 17: Paddock Lounge
Fence 18: Land Rover Head of the Lake
Fences 19ABC: Land Rover Head of the Lake
Fence 20: Creek Oxer
Fence 21ABC: Normandy Bank
Fence 22: Stairway Table
Fence 23ABC: Cosequin Cove
Fence 24: Ditch n’ Roll
Fence 25: Stick Pile
Fences 26AB: Mighty Moguls
Fence 27: Trakehner
Fence 28: Lucky Horseshoe
Thanks to Kent Nutrition Group, Mane ‘n Tail, and Cosequin® for our coverage of the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more.