Mary King (GBR), a regular visit to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event for many years, at last goes home with a coveted Rolex watch, plus the lion’s share of the prize-money. In a superb display of cool horsemanship, she finished first and second and now has a convincing 10-point lead over Badminton winner Mark Todd (NZL) after the second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™.

King, 49, who was third at Badminton last weekend on Imperial Cavalier, has made history as the first rider in modern times to win a CCI4* on a home-bred horse, Kings Temptress by Primitive Rising, coincidentally the sire of last year’s winner, Cool Mountain, out of King’s own mare Kings Mistress.

In addition, King joins an elite band of riders – Ian Stark (Badminton 1988), Mark Todd (Burghley 1987) and Blyth Tait (Burghley 1998) – to finish first and second at a CCI4*.

She jumped clear on both her horses, and, having ridden out of order on the Davies family’s 10-year-old Fernhill Urco, at his first CCI4*, had the luxury of knowing she was unbeatable before she entered the stadium on Derek Baden’s Kings Temptress.

“I relaxed a bit after going clear on Urco, but I managed to gee myself up to ride Kings Temptress, as it was so special to have the chance of winning on a horse I bred myself,” said King, who breaks another record as the oldest female rider to win a CCI4*.

“And I’m especially thrilled with my Rolex watch! It’s obviously a good spring for the ‘older’ riders, but the young ones shouldn’t give up yet!”

Sinead Halpin (USA), made a spectacular CCI4* debut, finishing third and best of the home side on Manoir de Carneville, which in addition earns her the HSBC Training Bursary, worth $1,000 towards training, for the best first-time CCI4* completion. A former pupil of William Fox-Pitt, Stuart Black (CAN) and David and Karen O’Connor (USA), Halpin now runs her own yard in Gladstone, New Jersey.

Halpin’s former teacher and last year’s winner, William Fox-Pitt (GBR), moved up a place with a clear stadium round on Neuf des Coeurs. He finished fourth and earns his first HSBC FEI Classics™ points.

Clayton Fredericks (AUS), another former Kentucky winner, was fifth on the mare Be My Guest, ahead of Oliver Townend (GBR), who will be well pleased with the first CCI4* showing of ODT Sonas Rovatio.

The only real casualty of the top 10 was former triple winner Kim Severson (USA), who had a disastrous round on Tipperary Liadhan, hitting six fences.

Mary King, 49, has been at the top of the sport for half her life and is one of the most successful and popular female riders of all time. She made her CCI4* debut at Badminton in 1985, finishing seventh on Divers Rock. She won Badminton in 1992 on King William and in 2000 on Star Appeal, and was victorious at Burghley in 1996 on Star Appeal. She has won numerous other three-day events and has ridden at five Olympics, winning team silver in 2004 and team bronze in 2008. In addition, she has won four European team golds (in 1991, 1995, 1997 and 2007) plus individual bronze and silver (in 1995 and 2007) and two world team gold medals, in 1994 and 2010. She is married to David, a farmer; they have two children and live in Devon.

1 Mary King/Kings Temptress (GBR) 47.7 + 0 + 0 = 47.7
2 Mary King/Fernhill Urco (GBR) 41.7 + 8 + 0 = 49.7
3 Sinead Halpin/Manoir de Carneville (USA) 53.1 + 2.8 + 0 = 53.1
4 William Fox-Pitt/Neuf des Coeurs (GBR) 53.2 + 0 + 0 = 54.0
5 Clayton Fredericks/Be My Guest (AUS) 50.2 + 2.8 + 4 = 57
6 Oliver Townend/ODT Sonas Rovatio (GBR) 55.8 + 2.4 + 0 = 58.2
7 Jessica Phoenix/Exponential (USA) 60 + 0 + 0 = 60
8 Hannah Sue Burnett/St Barths (USA) 53.3 + 0 + 8 = 61.3
9 Boyd Martin/Remington XXV (USA) 49.0 + 12.4 + 0 = 61.4
10 Rebecca Howard/Riddle Master (USA) 48.5 + 12.8 + 4 = 68.5

Full results on

HSBC FEI Classics™ Standings (after 2 of 5 events)
1. Mary King (GBR) – 25
2. Mark TODD (NZL) – 15
3. Piggy FRENCH (GBR) – 12
4. Sinead HALPIN (USA) – 10
5. Sam GRIFFITHS (AUS) – 8
6. William FOX-PITT (GBR) – 8
7. Niklas LINDBACK (SWE) – 6
8. Clayton FREDERICKS (AUS) – 6
9. Caroline POWELL (NZL) – 5
10. Oliver TOWNEND (GBR) – 5