Germany’s Michael Jung showed just why he’s such a dominant force in international eventing by putting in a perfect performance to maintain his lead in the CCI5*-L at the conclusion of the cross country phase at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™.
Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH turned in one of only three double-clear cross country runs today, to keep their score of 20.1 headed into the final phase, show jumping.
“I’m just very proud of my horse,” Jung said of the bay Hanoverian gelding. “I’m absolutely happy — he is a great horse, he has a lot of talent, super quality … today in cross county he was so powerful, fast running on the flat, great jumping and his brain was always with me. It was a great feeling just to enjoy the 11 minutes.”
One of the other two double-clean rounds belonged to American Boyd Martin and his long-time partner, the black Trakehner gelding Tsetserleg TSF, who stands in second, moving up from 6th after dressage.
“My guy was great,” Martin said. “We’ve got a great partnership and it was smooth sailing for ‘Thomas’ today, and I couldn’t have been happier with him. He’s in a place in his career where he really knows his job, so it’s a just matter of guiding him … I’m very pleased with how he went today.”
The final pair to come home double clear was Phillip Dutton on Sea of Clouds, the Thoroughbred gelding showing off his gallop to rocket up the standings from 31st to 7th.
American pair Boyd Martin and long-time partner Tsetserleg TSF slid into second place with one of only three double-clear cross county rounds in the in the CCI5*-L. Allison Pezzack Photo
Great Britain’s Yasmin Ingham is barely out of the Young Rider ranks, but she showed that she’s ready for this level by galloping home on first-time 5* horse Banzai Du Loir, adding just 2.8 time penalties to slide up one place from 4th after dressage to 3rd after cross country.
“I’m delighted with my horse’s first time at this level, he was brilliant at all the combinations,” she said of the chestnut Selle Francais gelding owned by Janette Chinn and Sue Davies. “The coffin came up early and he was a bit green, but once it was behind him he powered on. He’s an incredible horse to ride, he has all of what it takes … it’s a dream come true to come here and pull that out of the bag.”
Derek di Grazia’s cross country course guaranteed that the event would not be a dressage show, with only 24 of the 45 starting pairs coming home without jumping penalties. While faults were spread around the course, the coffin combination at number 7, the Park Question was the most influential combination of the day, with even some veteran pairs struggling there.
In addition, the time proved tough to get, even with the near-perfect conditions. Still, the top three found their trip around the Kentucky Horse Park enjoyable.
“The track didn’t walk as tough as last year, so I was surprised the early horses struggled a bit with the time and track,” admitted Martin.
“There were tough questions, big jumps everywhere and lots of galloping — it’s quite a hilly place,” said Jung. “I think it was a tough course, but nice to ride in the end for me.”
If the time seemed hard to get in the CCI5*-L, in was nothing compared to the CCI4*-S, which saw only one rider come home clear and within the time. A stellar cross country performance from newcomers Dan Kreitl and Carmango moved them from 11th after dressage to the top spot.
“It’s a surreal feeling and an honor to be here with these legends,” Kreitl said. “It’s something you dream about and aspire for but you never know how it will work out. But, it worked out today.
“I definitely did not think I’d be the only one (to make the time),” he continued. “I knew it would be hard to make the time and that it was a challenging course, but I came out of box to make the time … I’m super proud of that horse for giving all he did today.
Kreitl has an unusual story, that starts with him as what he calls a “broke college student with a vision of going advanced” and ends with him having supportive owners who purchased Carmango, a bay Westphalian gelding, to help move his career forward.
“We got Carmango as a 4-year-old,” he said. “We’ve produced from 4 till here, and he’s never had a cross country fault in his entire career. He gives everything he has, he does all three phases in a rubber snaffle and gives 110% every day. He’s the easiest and most willing horse to ride.”
As his riding career progressed, Kreitl became a real estate agent in Indiana, and faced exceptional adversity last year when his pregnant wife was diagnosed with cancer. He took his horses to Florida with Sharon White, and left them there while flying back and forth to take care of his family and his business.
“I have to give a ton of credit to my coach,” he said. “She kept him fit while I was juggling a newborn in the NICU, working full time in real estate and (taking care of my wife).”
Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp didn’t exactly have the day she hoped for with three mounts in this division, but her most experienced, Cooley Quicksilver added only 4.8 time penalties to move into second. Her other two mounts had trouble on the course, with Cooley Be Cool having 19.6 time penalties added to their score and Halliday-Sharp falling from Cooley Moonshine after a bobble at Fence 6, The Park Question.
“Quicksilver was incredible today,” she said. “He galloped and tried and fought for me the entire way. He’s done his whole career with me, and came out ready to run and did his best for me.”
Phillip Dutton and Quasi Cool added 6.8 time penalties to their score, but it was good enough to move them from 15th to 3rd place.
“He’s been a really good horse, strong in all three phases, but he’s got a bit to learn — it’s only his fifth Advanced — but he was game and bold and fast and he got a little strong today.”
Dutton was just happy to be here after a challenging spring that included Quasi Cool suffering a broken eye socket earlier this year that at first appeared to be career ending.
“It looked like it could be a bad tragedy but the vets in Wellington put him back together and got him full sight again, but his schedule was delayed from what it was,” he said.
Much like it’s counterpart in the CCI5*, the coffin at Fence 6 proved to be the challenge of the course, with 20 pairs coming to grief there, including overnight leaders Doug Payne and Starr Witness and overnight second-placed pair Colleen Loach and Vermont.
In the Dubarry of Ireland Team Challenge, the combined Germany/Ireland/New Zealand team of Michael Jung, Joseph Murphy and Jonelle Price lead with a score of 131.9 over Great Britain’s team of Yasmin Ingham, Pippa Funnel, Sarah Bullimore and Leslie Law with a score of 136.0 and USA’s team of Boyd Martin, William Coleman, Doug Payne, and Tamra Smith with a score of 141.1.
For now all the riders are basking in today’s success, but starting tomorrow they will be facing the final horse inspection and then the final phase of show jumping. A near-record crowd of 35,794 were on hand to cheer on the horses and riders today in both division.
Further information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event and the Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix is available at www.kentuckythreedayevent.com.