Tamie Smith and Mai Baum are one step closer to doing something a U.S. rider hasn’t done since 2008—win the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*. The pair charged around Saturday’s cross-country course double clear to sit in first place going into Sunday’s show jumping.
“It’s so special and amazing. It’s hard to top that. … But I think it’s time. I really love producing the horses from midway and up, and I think that’s important. Him and I have been able to learn together. It’s been really special. He’s been able to take us all over the world. To be able to finish here at 17-years-old double clear is … it’s really awesome.”
Thirty-seven horses started over Derek di Grazia’s course of 28 questions, which many riders called “intense.” Twenty-six combinations completed the course and six went double-clear. Twelve jumped clear with time faults and eight had both jump and time faults. Three were eliminated on course and eight retired. Lauren Nicholson withdrew Landmark’s Monte Carlo before cross-country.
The last U.S. horse and rider to win the Kentucky Three-Day Event was Phillip Dutton and Connaught in 2008.
Tamie Smith and Mai Baum
Smith and Mai Baum finished the day on a score of 24.2. She joked that she probably was more tired than her 17-year-old partner, though he had his moments on course, too. “I kept thinking, ‘C’mon buddy!’ If you had a mic on me, you could have heard me just say ‘C’mon, you can do it!’” she said. “He got tired at one point but then popped right back and kept going.”
The only fence Smith didn’t love was Fence 23ABC, a table fashioned after a corgi to a corner to a brush table. “A little bit at that last water, the corgi, he jumped in almost dead, and that’s a big effort over that corner. He had to really try hard, and then I got the five to the next brush.”
In terms of preparing for Sunday’s show-jumping round, Smith said, “I just hope he has a lot left in him, and he springs over those jumps like I know he can. I’m more nervous going into the show jumping tomorrow than I have been in the past from having my disappointment in Pratoni. But my horse is healthier and feeling fitter and better. I just pray to all the people out there to will us over those jumps.”
At the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, Smith and Mai Baum had two rails in show jumping to fall from third place to ninth individually.
Tom McEwen and JL Dublin
McEwen, an Olympic gold and silver medalist, and JL Dublin incurred 5.2 time penalties to slip from first to second place. They go into Sunday’s show jumping with a score of 27.8, only 3.6 points behind Smith.
The riders from Great Britain have commented that rain prevented them from competing very much this spring. McEwen said that could account for the time faults.
“He was just amazing. Possibly got a little bit tired halfway round, but he dug deep, he jumped really well. We had a near enough foot perfect round and just took our time at some of the fences. In probably a few month’s time, we’ll be ticking on down to it.”
McEwen started the ride on Dublin, the 2021 European Champion, in the middle of last year. Dublin’s previous rider, Nicola Wilson, fell with him at the 2022 Badminton Horse Trials. McEwen and Dublin placed second at the Military Boekelo CCIO4*-L last fall. This is their first CCI5* together.
When asked if it was difficult to take the extra time around the course, McEwen said, “For me, that was the right decision for today. And realistically, what does it cost us? Maybe a few places. And, yes, I’m competitive, but there’s more to life than taking too many risks.”
The Kentucky spectators didn’t disappoint the pair in their first trip to the United States. “The crowds encouraged him home with a lot of whooping and hollering, so he was definitely loving that,” McEwen said.
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C
Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C incurred 1.6 time penalties on the cross-country course. They sit third going into Sunday’s show-jumping course with a score of 28.5.
“He’s some big engine machine. I think that’s where my time faults came. I got a little down early on because I had to manage him a little bit. And then he’s just got so much power and stride and energy,” she said of the time faults. “He was slightly tired at the end, and I was running out of control there, too. I was like ‘whoa boy. Let’s get this done.’ But he was outstanding.”
Halliday-Sharp said the course was “tough enough, I’ll say. It took some riding, and the time was obviously very tight. It was interesting, the jump out of the Hollow. I think we all thought, ‘Oh it’s just a log…’ Both my horses looked at that. … I think they were sort of surprised to see it off the turn.”
She and Deniro Z, who has competed at a five-star in two years because of an injury, are in 17th place. They jumped clear but had 13.6 time penalties. “Probably going forward I just would need to do a little bit more fitness than his old self needed,” she said of the 15 year old.
Looking forward to Sunday’s show-jumping round on Mikki, Halliday-Sharp said, “This is the longest and most terrain he’s ever run on so we’ll see what we have. He finished very fresh, which is great. So we’ll just have to see what we have tomorrow. But he is a good jumper, and I think the world of him. And either way he’ll come away a much better horse from this weekend.”
Overnight leaders and reigning FEI Eventing World Champions Yasmin Ingham (GBR) and Banzai Du Loir had a runout at the corner of Fence 6. They incurred 20 jumping penalties and 20 time penalties and now sit in 21st place. “Unfortunately, it’s not our day today. That’s the highs and lows of horses, and they’re not machines—they remind us of that,” she said. “Just an early-on blip unfortunately. Didn’t quite get to the C element of the Park Question. But after that, we put that behind us and cracked on with the rest of the course.”
Crowd favorite Boyd Martin (USA) and Tsetserleg TSF retired on course after having trouble at Fence 4C. “Thomas has got one flaw as a cross-country horse. He’s very, very fresh at the beginning, and he has trouble turning right. And when I walked the course, I knew that would be a challenge, that fence. I jumped in well, and he was sort of looking for a fence to the left, and I was like, ‘Go right, go right.’ And I couldn’t get him there.” Martin retired Thomas to save him for another day.
Jennie Saville (USA) also retired her horse Stella Artois on course after saying she didn’t feel right. The horse was trailered off the cross-country course and taken to a local equine hospital. She was diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury to the front right leg and is expected to make a full recovery.
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CCI5* competition at the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event resumes Sunday, April 30, with show jumping.
Thanks to Mane ‘n Tail Equine for our coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!