LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY-April 23, 2009 - The largest foreign entry ever at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (22 horses) showed a strong hand on the first day of dressage. Tim Lips of the Netherlands grabbed first place by riding Concrex Oncarlos to the excellent score of 42.0. British riders Oliver Townend, on Carousel Quest (45.2), and William Fox-Pitt, on Navigator (46.7), settled for second and third.
Jolie Sexson, of Martinez, Calif., claimed fourth place today on Killian O'Connor (47.3), and Corinne Ashton, of Princeton, Mass., claimed fifth place on Dobbin (47.7).
Photo Credit: Amy Dragoo/FEI
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, a part of the HSBC FEI ClassicsTM Series, will run a CCI4* and the 12th championship for the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation Pinnacle Cup, signifying the zenith in eventing competition in the United States. The event draws more than 100,000 spectators and millions more via worldwide telecasts including a one-hour special in the U.S. on NBC on Sunday, May 3.
Lips, 23, had never been to the United States before, although he and Concrex Oncarlos finished 21st at the 2008 Olympics. "I thought that if he was relaxed today, he would do a really good job," said Lips, who's been training in dressage with two-time Olympic gold medalist Anky van Grunsven, also from the Netherlands, for the last year.
"It's great to be in the top here-much better than being at the end," Lips added with a smile. Concrex Oncarlos is a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
Townend, 26, called his performance today "a great start." But he added, "I'd rather be here for the press conference after show jumping on Sunday."
Fox-Pitt, 40, has been a star of British eventing for more than a decade, winning other four-stars and riding on his country's Olympic and World Championship teams. But this is Navigator's first four-star event, and Fox-Pitt was pleasantly surprised to have placed third. He'll ride again tomorrow afternoon, on Seacookie.
"There are quite a few good horses still to go tomorrow, and I suspect that the judges are probably saving some of their 9s and 10s for them," said Fox-Pitt.
The three judges are David Lee of Ireland, Marilyn Payne of the United States, and Nicoli Fife of New Zealand.
Photo Credit: Kit Houghton/FEI
The remaining 26 horses will perform their dressage tests n Friday, beginning at 10:00 a.m. and ending 4:22 p.m.
As the only four-star event in the Western Hemisphere, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is the premier competition for the top horses and riders in eventing. Past winners include U.S. Olympic Medalists David and Karen O'Connor, Kim Severson and Phillip Dutton, New Zealand's Blyth Tait and Nick Larkin, Pippa Funnell of Great Britain and Andrew Hoy and Clayton Fredericks of Australia.
The $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is awarded to any rider who wins the Rolex Kentucky, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and Land Rover Burghley Four-Star Events in succession. In 2003, Pippa Funnell of Great Britain became the first, and to date only, rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
Eventing fans will have the opportunity to watch live action from Rolex Kentucky on Pay-Per View webcasts on www.rk3de.org, featuring coverage of dressage on April 23-24 and of cross-country on April 25. Free live coverage of the show jumping on April 26 will be available online at www.universalsports.com.
For more information on the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, please visit the Rolex Kentucky website at www.rk3de.org.