Lexington, KY - April 26, 2012 - Boyd Martin of the United States and Remington XXV set the standard on the first day of dressage at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone. All three judges placed him first, with a total of 45.3 penalties. Karen O’Connor of the United States rode Veronica into second place (47.8), and Andrew Nicholson of New Zealand rode Calico Joe into third place (48.7).
Becky Holder of the United States, on Courageous Comet, is fourth (48.8).
Martin, 32, of West Grove, Pa., said that Remington XXV, 16, was one of the first horses he competed when he moved from his native Australia seven years ago. The Hanoverian gelding, owned by Henley House Stables, had only foxhunted before Martin began working with him. “He’s a good old horse,” said Martin with a grin. “He’s taken me all around the world now, and it was wonderful to ride a test on a horse who knows what he’s doing.”
Martin, who rode on his first U.S. team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, is now aiming for his first Olympic team.
O’Connor, 54, is pleased to be in such a contending position on the less experienced of her two horses. Rolex Kentucky is the first four-star start for Veronica, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Team Rebecca LLC. Tomorrow she’ll ride Mr. Medicott.
O’Connor scored the first of her three Rolex Kentucky victories in 1991, and now her goal is to ride on her fifth Olympic team. She said that last fall she put herself on a demanding exercise program to be sure she was as fit as her horses. “This competition is extremely important to me, and I owe it to myself and everybody who’s put a lot of time and effort into me to be ready for it and for whatever may be beyond,” said O’Connor. “If I don’t give it 110 percent, then shame on me.”
Nicholson, 50, has had an international career as long and successful as O’Connor’s, but he said that the two horses he’s brought to Rolex Kentucky are probably not his Olympic candidates this year. Both Calico Joe, 10, and Qwanza, 9, are making their first four-start starts. “We wanted to see if they’re ready for the Olympics, and this is up to four-star standards, so we’ll see what happens,” he said. “Calico Joe has been very consistent all throughout his career in the dressage, but he’s done better than I expected today,” Nicholson added.
Tomorrow, Martin will ride Otis Barbotiere and Nicholson will ride Qwanza.
The second day of dressage gets underway tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., concluding at 4:00 p.m. The exciting cross-country phase will take place on Saturday, with the climactic show jumping on Sunday.
The 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the Western Hemisphere’s only Four Star Three-Day Event, features the 15th Rolex USEF Four Star Championship for the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation Pinnacle Cup. The Event is part of the HSBC FEI ClassicsTM and features the world’s best horses and riders vying for their share of $250,000 in prize money as well as a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing which is awarded to any rider who wins the Rolex Kentucky, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and Land Rover Burghley Four Star Events in succession.
This year’s Event also features selection trials to choose the U.S. Eventing team for the 2012 London Olympic Games assuring that the nation’s top horses and riders will be at their best as they compete for places on the team for this summer’s Olympics.
The Event draws 50-100,000 spectators and is seen by millions more on worldwide telecasts including a 60-minute live broadcast on NBC in the United States that will air on Sunday, April 29 from 2:00-3:00 pm EDT.
The Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup returns for its second year, April 27-28. The Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup is the only Three Star Reining competition currently scheduled in the U.S. in 2012 and offers $100,000 in prize money in the CRI3*, along with the popular $25,000 World Freestyle Championship.
In addition to the world-class competition, Rolex Kentucky also features world-class shopping at the Sponsor Village and Trade Fair. With more than 175 merchants selling everything from horse-related items to clothing, accessories, jewelry and art, this is always a favorite place for browsing and buying during the Event!
Additionally, the famed Country music group Exile will perform as part of a free two-hour concert on Saturday, April 28 from 3:30–5:30 pm. The show will be free to anyone holding a ticket to either the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event’s Cross-Country competition, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, or the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup’s World Freestyle Championship, 5:30-7:30 pm.
Further information on the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Presented by Bridgestone, is available at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event website at www.rk3de.org and information on the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup is available at www.KentuckyReining.com.
Photo: Karen O'Conner and Mr. Medicott