The miserable weather continued into the afternoon at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park, and time also continued to be a nemesis in the CCI4*-S, with not a single horse-and-rider combo making it across the finish line within the time allowed. At the end of the day only 22 of the 40 starters finished; the other 18 were either eliminated or retired on course.

Tamra Smith and EnVogue will jump last in Sunday’s stadium phase. (MacMillan photo)

Tamra Smith (USA) and the lovely Hanoverian mare EnVogue were last to go and had just 9.6 time faults to retain their lead with 35.0 pp. Close behind them in second place with 37.9 is fellow American Alyssa Phillips with Oskar, a Holsteiner gelding who blazed around the course in the fastest time of the day, incurring just 5.6 time penalties.

“It rode very tough and big,” Smith said. “EnVogue was the star. It was a blast and so fun to zip around on her. She just came out like a beast and was so quick on her feet. It was really fun.”

Canada was well-represented in this large division with six entries. Colleen Loach continued to be the weekend star for Canada when she and Vermont had a super round with no jumping faults and 14.8 time penalties for a score of 41.8. They now occupy third place ‒ just 6.8 pp out of first.

“We got it done! He’s so great, he’s so honest, he kind of felt a little bit green out there,” said Loach. “It was a tough course in a bit difficult conditions ‒ he hasn’t really had to compete in the mud before and it’s hard with the rain pelting in his face. I think he felt a little unsure at times but willing to trust me anyways.”

Loach and her second ride FE Golden Eye had a refusal and time penalties to end the day on a score of 71.1 in 15th place.

Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit. MacMillan Photography)

Trailblazer Jessica Phoenix had three horses in this division and Wabbit was first out of the start box, scampering around the course with no jumping and 17.6 time penalties to bring their score to 59.3. They are now sitting in 11th spot heading into the final day.

“All three horses were unbelievable today,” said a delighted Phoenix. “We haven’t competed since November; especially for Wabbit, his first time being at a huge venue like this that is by far the most complex course at the four-star level that I’ve ever seen. And to be the trailblazer with Wabbit and to have him perform so effortlessly, to hunt the flags and have gallop for days, it’s just so cool.”

Phoenix and her second ride, Bogue Sound, had no jumping faults and just 16.8 time penalties to finish with 52.5, good for 6th place. “Bogue Sound was born and bred in Kentucky. He just thrives here, he loves the terrain, he loves the jumps. What an incredible horse; he took me around that course like he’s been doing it every weekend.”

Phoenix was last to go for Canada with her long-time partner Pavarotti; the 19-year-old campaigner was pulling like a three-year-old in the Derby for the first few fences but then settled into a nice rhythm. They had 25.2 time penalties for a total of 55.0, putting them in 7th place overall. (Originally a 15-point penalty was assessed for missing a flag but that was later dropped.)

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti. (MacMillan Photography)

“Pavarotti was so excited at the start, for the first four fences he was just getting in stride and then there was a long gallop to five, and then he finally took a breath.”

Phoenix saw the conditions deteriorate from riding first out of the gate, in the middle of the pack, and second-last. “The way the weather had changed the footing from the start of the division to the end made it a completely different course,” she said. “The distances rode differently, the jumps jumped differently; it was slick and very muddy at the end of the division.”

Unfortunately, things did not go so well for Kyle Carter and the 12-year-old Trakehner mare Reddy Or Not, who looked really good early in the course but had a fall in the water and were eliminated.

A big shout out to the volunteers, staff, officials, photographers, horses and riders who endured cold, soggy, less-than-ideal conditions, and the excellent livestreaming which allowed fans to watch from afar.

View the CCI4*-S leaderboard here.