Great Britain’s Yasmin Ingham had a fairytale year in 2022, and she’s looking to do it again after taking over the lead of the CCI5*-L at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™ aboard Banzai Du Loir. Ingham and the 12-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by The Sue Davies Fund put on a show for a crowd of 13,252, the largest Friday crowd since 2017.

“He was incredible out there,” Ingham said of the test which scored 22.1. “I’m so proud of him. He did everything I asked, and he just really did focus in there.”

Ingham and “Banzai” finished second in this competition in 2022, and then went on to win the Eventing World Championships in Italy later in the summer. It was a fairytale ending to an incredible year for a young lady from the Isle of Man who was a relative newcomer to the top levels of the sport. As a result, the decision was made to try to keep the magic going by returning to the Kentucky bluegrass.

“(This event) was an amazing setup for our success at (the World Championships in Pratoni, Italy) last summer, so the thought process was to come back here and have a great ride to hopefully set us up again,” Ingham said. “It’s an awesome event. I feel very lucky to be here and just want to give it my best shot and stay as close to my dressage score as possible.”

Thursday’s top pair — Great Britain’s Tom McEwen and JL Dublin — had to settle for second place behind their countryman with their overnight score of 22.6. With only a single cross-country time penalty separating them, their performance on cross-country tomorrow will be critical.

American Tamra Smith and Mai Baum (24.2) also moved down one place to stand third overnight, just ahead of Will Coleman (USA) and the young phenom Chin Tonic who is right behind them with a score of 25.0. As the highest-placed American, Smith currently leads the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS Equestrian. (The two Canadians in the 5* – Hawley Awad and Jollybo and Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit – are currently in 30th and 32nd places)

Coleman and Chin Tonic have been winning everything with out-of-this-world dressage scores as he’s come up the levels, and the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Hyperion Stud continues to impress. However, he’s new to the 5* level, and Coleman thinks he needs a little more time and strength to reach his full potential.

“It’s a much higher level of technicality at the 5* and he still has room to improve in that department,” Coleman said. “Everything comes very quick in this test … and he needs to be a little better, a little sharper, and be available a little bit quicker.”

In the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge, Team Great Britain (Yasmin Ingham/Banzai Du Loir, Tom McEwen/JL Dublin, Kristy Chabert/Classic VI, and David Doel/Galileo Nieuwmoed) leads the way with a team score of 75.5. Team USA (Tamra Smith/Mai Baum, William Coleman/Chin Tonic, Boyd Martin/Tsetserleg TSF, and Phillip Dutton/Z) trails by only two points with a team score of 77.5. The combined team of Germany, France and Canada (Sandra Auffarth/Viamant Du Matz, Alina Dibowski/Barbados 26, Maxime Livio/Carouzo Bois Marotin, and Jessica Phoenix/Wabbit) are third with 96.6.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Smith are dominating the first phases in the Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S, sharing the top four places between them. Halliday-Sharp stands first and second, retaining her top spot from Thursday with Cooley Nutcracker (24.5) and taking over second with Friday’s mount Cooley Be Cool (25.5). Smith on Solaguayre California (27.6) stands third, and she shares fourth place on Elliott V with Sara Kozumplik (USA) on Rock Phantom, both scoring 28.4. (Canadian Colleen Loach holds down 6th and 8th places with FE Golden Eye and Vermont, respectively; Karl Slezak and Hot Bobo are 7th.)

Cooley Be Cool is a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Ocala Horse Properties and The Monster Syndicate that Halliday-Sharp has been developing for several years, and she was pleased with how he stepped up to the plate today.

“I was really thrilled with him. I thought he was very professional and stayed with me the whole way,” she said, adding that the half-passes were a particular highlight of his test.

Cooley Be Cool sits just behind Halliday-Sharp’s other mount Cooley Nutcracker, a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by The Nutcracker Syndicate. “I was thrilled with both of them,” she said. “They are both younger horses, and by far that was the best test both of them have done. They were so professional in that big atmosphere. It gave me a glimmer of what their big futures will be. I think they’re both future team horses and future 5* horses. It’s so great to be able to showcase them in this 4*.”

Saturday’s cross-country now looms large in riders’ minds as they switch gears for the test which is the heart of the sport.

“(The course) looks incredible,” Ingham said of the CCI5*-L. “(Course designer Derek di Grazia’s) use of undulations in the ground is amazing. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and hope we can come home without any penalties.

“I love the terrain here,” she continued. “(Banzai’s) got such a huge stride and covers the ground really well. (Last year) I felt like I was never upsetting his rhythm, and I felt like I wasn’t interfering with the way he was going. There’s some hard combinations out there, but it looks amazing. I’m really looking forward to giving it a go tomorrow.”

“It’s typical of Derek’s courses to have not one big complex or question that sticks out as a danger,” Coleman said. “It’s got places around the whole track where a little moment where you don’t react or respond well could lead to a runout.

“The key for (my two horses) will be keeping them attentive and in a good balance all the way around,” he added. “And the stamina question is biggest for those horses, as they are not Thoroughbreds. From start to finish, there’s problems that could pop up anywhere; I don’t have one thing that sticks out. I think I’ll have to ride for 11 minutes and 26 seconds and try to keep them between the flags.”

CCI5*-L results here.

CCI4*-S results here.