Lexington, KY - On the second day of dressage at the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone the results proved true to form. Familiar pair Allison Springer and Arthur topped the first phase scoring 39.8 - the only effort to break 40. Great Britain's William Fox-Pitt Parklane Hawk cruised to second place with a score of 41.3 and Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen settled into third with a lovely effort at the horse's first CCI4*.
A chilly start to the day meant for some fresh horses this morning, but the quality remained high and Springer (Marshall, VA) rode Arthur with a lot of confidence and was rewarded by the Ground Jury of Nick Burton, Anne-Mette Binder and Michel Asseray. Now 13, Arthur can be relied upon to produce a good dressage test despite his seemingly worried outlook on life. "Well, it is no surprise to anyone that my horse is a bit of a spook and nervous and all that," said Springer. "I think I have had just a bit of a different attitude this year in general. I think I have put, for many years, a lot of pressure on myself to have to win or have to produce a result."
Arthur fulfilled the faith that his rider has always had in him and delivered on her expectation. His test was forward and very well executed, Springer made sure to take every point she could with her out of the Rolex Stadium. "I don't have it all figured out but I have just kind of been riding every day, I have just been trying to have a good ride every day and make my horse as relaxed and confident as possible," said Springer.
Although this pair hasn't put together the three phases needed to win a CCI4* quite yet, they have jumped around some of the very toughest tracks. Most recently, they won the Advanced division at the Fork Horse Trials in their final preparation for this event.
They head into tomorrow's cross country with a slim lead, but are ready to tackle Derek DiGrazia's track. "I know what I need to do to do my best tomorrow and that's kind of what I concentrated on at the Fork and that my best was good enough," said Springer.
There were plenty of attempts to best their mark, and Fox-Pitt, who won the 2011 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials with this 11-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred (owned by Catherine Witt) had a lovely relaxed test.
"This (event) was always the plan for Parklane Hawk after Burghley," said Fox-Pitt who has won more than 40 CCIs in his career. "I felt that I wanted to have another three-day run on him perhaps ahead of the Games in London. Just because I think the course here is a little bit up and down and there are a few twists and turns and I am thinking it will be, I am hoping it will be, a good experience for him and another opportunity to form a better partnership. I think the course here is looking good."
Fox-Pitt won Team and Individual Silver at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2010 at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the same year he won this event on Cool Mountain. With his win at Burghley - he is live in the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, meaning that if he can win this week and score next week at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, he will pick up a $350,000 bonus for his efforts.
Rounding out the top three is Clark Montgomery (Ocala, FL), who rode Loughan Glen to a stellar effort in the 9-year-old Irish Sport horse's first CCI4*. A mistake in the turn on the haunches marred an otherwise stellar effort as Kathryn Kraft, Holly Becker and Jessica Montgomery's horse rose to the occasion. He produced beautiful flying changes in the difficult four-star test. "He just handles it so well," said Montgomery. "And it makes him an awesome competitor."
Tomorrow's cross country course will be a big test for 'Glen', but Montgomery will rely on his preparation and training to produce a result similar to the one that produced a fifth place finish at the Fidelity Investments Blenheim International Horse Trials last fall. They were recipients of a Land Rover Competition and Training Grant which made that trip to the UK possible.
"We'll keep in mind he is a young green, horse," said Montgomery. "I would like to try and be competitive but if at any point he feels that I need to slow down or take an option or something like that then he needs to gain confidence more than he needs to try and win this event."
Cross country begins at 10:04 tomorrow morning, Team Gold and Individual Bronze medalist from the 2011 Pan American Games, Buck Davidson kicks off the day with Absolute Liberty and a star-studded field will follow to take on the Kentucky Bluegrass.
Watch the competition's live stream on the USEF Network presented by SmartPak. In addition to the webcast, the order of go, results, daily reports and photos can be found at http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/Rolex3Day2012
For more information about the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone, visit http://www.rk3de.org/
Follow the 2012 Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2012Eventing/
Photo: Allison Springer and Arthur (Photo by Shannon Brinkman)