Oliver Townend Hoping for Repeat Victory at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

Last year's winner of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, Oliver Townend of Great Britain, once again found himself at the top of the leaderboard heading into cross-country day.

Lexington, KY--Dramatic, stormy weather and fantastic rides were the theme at the second day of dressage at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, and at the close of the day, three new riders sat atop the leaderboard. Reigning champion Oliver Townend of Great Britain made his trip back across the Atlantic worth his while as he took a commanding lead aboard his 2018 winner, Cooley Master Class, scoring an impressive 24.1. Fellow Brit Piggy French is the current runner-up with her 2018 WEG partner Quarrycrest Echo on a 27.1 and Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg lead the charge for the Americans with a 27.9.


Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Master Class found themselves in the familiar position at the top of the leaderboard after the completion of dressage. Amy K. Dragoo/AIMMEDIA

“He made me work in there,” said Ollie after his ride on Angela Hislop’s 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (by Ramiro B, out of The Swallow). “He’s a lot more than what he gave but at the same time he’s very experienced, not at this level, but I’ve had him since he was 4 years old. He knows me and I know him. It’s nice to come in and not have to worry about him from boiling over, it’s more worrying about keeping him going and getting him to the end without me sweating too much but he’s done a good job.” 

Because he knows him so well, “It’s basically just going in there and trying to get a clear round and press buttons.” 

Oliver Townend (left) and Boyd Martin (right) were all smiles during the press conference after their rides. Amy K. Dragoo/AIMMEDIA

“It’s obviously a great feeling to be back here,” said Ollie during the press conference. “It’s my favorite event. The people here are very, very friendly and the atmosphere is second to none. The stadium is out of this world. It’s just an event that if I had to do the last event of my career, this is the one I’d like to be at because it’s so special.” 

The stormy weather must have reminded Cooley Master Class of his home in England, because the whipping wind and chilly temperatures didn’t bother him a bit. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any hotter because he went in there and literally went to sleep on me!” laughed Ollie. 

Piggy French (GBR) and Quarrycrest Echo sit in second place. Amy K. Dragoo/AIMMEDIA

Piggy prepared for her test by giving Quarrycrest Echo (a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Clover Echo) a light workout in the morning before his test. “We got monsooned on within five minutes of being out so that was hard to tell what sort of mood he was in,” she said. 

“When he came out [for his test later] it was a bit cold and stormy. I normally only give him 20 minutes warm-up at the big events, because he’s better just a bit fresher. But he came out and he felt like his tail was a bit clamped–he was a bit cold, a bit tight and spooky. When I came down the slope to the arena it was very stormy, so I was very proud of him to do his best. He just felt very professional and got on with his job.” 

This was the first time Piggy has competed at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, though she was here last year in Tryon as part of the British WEG team. “It was actually my owner’s decision to come over for the event–she does a lot of work in the States,” said Piggy of Jayne McGivern, who’d wanted the horse to run here at the event. “It was a great opportunity for me because I’d always wanted to come here.” 

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg are in third place. Amy K. Dragoo/AIMMEDIA

In his third year together with Tsetserleg, Boyd Martin was quite pleased with Christine Turner’s 12-year-old Trakehner gelding (sired by Windfall) . “You never know how it looks quite when you ride it,” said Boyd after his test. “He was a little bit spooky and distracted but he’s a good boy. He presents a lovely picture and he’s pretty seasoned now so he’s good fun to ride in the dressage.”

“Dressage is a frustrating sport because you can always look back and wish you did this a little better or that a little better, but he’s getting better and better,” said Boyd. “Last year he was very green here and sort of scraped through all three phases. This year he’s a bit more seasoned and confirmed at this level.” 

Yesterday’s leader, Swiss rider Felix Vogg was shuffled into fourth place on the leaderboard, while New Zealand’s Tim Price (aboard Xavier Faer) finished his day tied for fifth with U.S. rider Liz Halliday-Sharp. 

Tim was thrilled with the experienced British Sport Horse (sired by Catherston Dazzler), minus a slight bobble of a flying change. “Other than that he did some of the best work he’s ever done in the ring. He stay relaxed which is the main thing. He’s a bit of a random spooky horse and he can see a dragon from nowhere and none of those appeared today so that was really good. I’m really pleased.”  

The cold, blustery weather unnerved a few horses, but most kept the lid on any cheeky antics during their tests. Dom Schramm was delighted with his and Bolytair B’s first dressage test at the CCI5* level, especially with the chilly temperatures and full stands in the arena. “To be fair to him he really kept it together and he’s blown his gasket a couple times before and he really stepped up today.”  

Check out what the riders had to say about Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course this year. The first horse sets out on course tomorrow at 10:30AM. 

Want more photos? Visit the photo gallery from today

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