It was an unfortunate turn of events when Oliver Townend’s Cooley Master Class was spun by the vets in the Sunday morning jog at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. This meant the two-time Kentucky Three-Day winner, who was sitting in 8th place with 30.5 ‒ less than a rail out of 1st place ‒ could not defend his title this year. “He’s picked up a cut that he’s sore on but at the same time I’ve hopped on him and given him a little ride this morning,” Townend said. “He’s sound to ride and very fresh. He’s well in himself. I’ve no doubt he would jump very well but unfortunately he didn’t present well.
“Obviously the welfare of the horse is paramount in our sport. That’s [the ground jury’s] decision to make. That’s their job to decide. It’s very sad for him and very sad for the team, but he’s still in one piece … It’s more of a frustration than anything else but he’s 100%.”
Townend’s second ride and the overnight leader Ballaghmor Class was accepted. In all, 44 horses entered the main stadium for the final phase of the 62 original entries.
Steve Stephen’s interesting course included an option fence which turned out to be the downfall of Colleen Loach, who came off Qorry Blue d’Argouges when he jumped it awkwardly and the pair was unfortunately eliminated. The pair had been sitting in 29th position going into this phase.
The only other Canadian remaining in this division, Lisa Marie Fergusson with Honor Me, had 8 jumping and .8 time faults to finish on a score of 72.7pp. They placed 37th overall.
“It was pretty good,” said Fergusson of their effort. “I cut in on one of the turns and then got a little bit backwards to the vertical. But he jumped great and tried really hard and now he’ll get to go home and have a nice break. And then we’ll look at what we’re going to do for the fall.” This could include the new Maryland five-star [at Fair Hill] or even Burghley. “Something big and fun.”
The sun finally shone as the last flight of riders did their rounds to sort out the top 10. When the dust had cleared, Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class ‒ a horse which ran a good portion of the slick cross-country with only three shoes ‒ did not add anything to their 27.3 score to claim the victory.
New Zealand’s eventing power couple Tim and Jonelle Price moved into the second and third-place slots respectively with clear rounds (save a .4 time penalty for Jonelle) with Xavier Faer (28.2) and Grovine De Reve (30.7).
“I’m never good in these situations because I’m extremely emotional, but to be here is just so special for me,” said a choked-up Townend. “And it’s such a huge team effort both on your side and on my side. And for us to come together and enjoy such an amazing sport, in the best venue in the world, is very special to me,” said the three-time winner of this event.
He described the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding as “incredible. Basically everything has gone against him this week. And it’s as you know it’s incredible horses that can have everything go against them and still come out on top. He’s a fighter, he’s tough. He’s an out-and-out professional and thank God he’s got me on his back to enjoy these moments.”
Final CCI5*-L leaderboard here.