The decimated field in the CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event ‒ just 22 remaining from the original 40 starters thanks to an unforgiving cross-country course ‒ took to the main arena on Sunday over Steve Stephens show jumping track. Lots of rails were lowered and many had trouble making the 80 seconds time allowed.
For the Canadians, Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit were first up (and first out to test the course). They had a number of lucky rubs and then took the final fence down, plus added 3.2 time penalties. Their final score of 66.5 put them in a very respectable 10th place to finish the weekend.
She was followed by Colleen Loach and FE Golden Eye, who logged one of just five clear rounds without jumping or time penalties to retain their score of 71.1 and finish in 12th place.
Phoenix’s second ride, Pavarotti, had three rails plus two time penalties for a final score of 69 for 11th place. Her third and final mount, Bogue Sound, lowered two fences and crossed the timers just a smidge late to score 8.8 penalties for a total of 61.3 and a terrific 8th-place end to the weekend.
“For our first competition back since last November, I could not have been happier with all three of them,” she said of her horses. “I definitely knocked some rust off in there, which was great. I felt bad that I had that many rails on Rottie, but I tried to make up for some of my mistakes.
“And Wabbit was just unbelievable in there. For his first time in the Rolex stadium he really held it together.” She added that Watson GS seems fine now after exhibiting lameness caused by an abscess in a hind hoof during the dressage phase.
Colleen Loach had been sitting in third place, but unfortunately Vermont had one rail for a final tally of 45.8 to drop a placing and finish in 4th overall – still a terrific result.
“Goldie [FE Golden Eye] jumped really sure super in there; he was quite spooky in the warm-up but he got in there and did his job. And then Monty [Vermont] was a little bit backed off from yesterday in the warm up, but he went in there and felt really good and my reins just got a little long after the triple and he got a bit flat to the vertical, but he jumped really well.” Next stop for these two horses is Jersey Fresh in Allentown, NJ, for the four-star long May 5-9.
Alyssa Phillips and Oskar continued to build the tension with a fabulous clear round, leaving it all on the shoulders of overnight leader Tamra Smith and EnVogue, who did not have the luxury of even a rail in hand. And that rail came down in the middle of the triple combination, handing the win to an overwhelmed Phillips and her 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, finishing with 37.9.
“He’s a great horse, and it’s a big show, he really tried hard for me in there,” said the delighted 25-year-old. “I just couldn’t be happier with him. To win and to be here at his first four-star in Kentucky is amazing. I’m so proud of him.”
Phillips is coached by Jennie Brannigan and also had her mom and friends in the nearly empty stands cheering her on.
“The girls that I have here, I went to college with them or I knew them from back in Texas and growing up, and we haven’t seen each other for a while since we’re all doing different things. It’s awesome that they’re here, awesome that my mom was able to come; I’m so happy that Jennie’s here and I just couldn’t be more grateful for everyone that surrounds me and helps me and my horse.”
Third place went to another American, Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and the nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Cooley Moonshine, who had a double-clear round to finish on 42.5.
See the final 4* leaderboard here.