After two days of dressage competition, Germany’s Olympic gold medalist Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST, the defending champions, are in the lead on a score of 34.4. Alison Springer and Arthur are in second (39.7) with Pan American Games gold medalist, Marilyn Little and RF Demeter in third.
This will be Springer’s 7th Rolex and she voiced her concerns at today’s press conference noting, “This is probably the most tiring track I’ve seen at Rolex.”
Little is ready to face the challenge on a horse that she says is “very experienced and has a big heart.”
Jung’s plan is to go fast but a look at the weather in the morning will be part of his decision. Jung made it clear that he is not going to hold back. “For me it is a very long trip to here. So, I am not coming here to have a nice holiday. When I come here I try to win. But it very much depends on the horse. The horse tells you if he is ready. In the end it is very important that you finish the competition with a healthy horse and then go on.”
Now the field of 71 riders competing in Saturday’s cross-country course are mapping out their final plan, knowing that the forecast is predicting rainy weather. Yet. Derek Di Grazia’s course was created with an understanding that Mother Nature makes the final decision.
A course of 29 fences, many offering alternate and longer routes, will demand concentration by both the horses and riders with tests that include turns, narrow fences, hilly terrain, and a variety of other questions. The goal is to ensure that the best horse and rider combination are the ones that take the lead in this second phase of this three-day competition.
The key for all the riders is that their horses maintain a consistent balance, with each combination requiring just the right balance to clear the fence.
For those who have witnessed past events it’s clear that no one can predict the outcome of how each rider will fare in the cross-country. One wrong move and a horse could run out from a fence, a rider can fall or points can be added to a score because of going over the time allowed.
In the end it’s all about what happens on that day over the course these competitors are faced with. Take a look at the pictures to see what is in store for them.
For more about the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit the website.