Lexington, KY - William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain retained the lead he took in dressage by recording a clear cross-country round today on Cool Mountain at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone.
Fox-Pitt's score of 42.8 penalties kept him 2 points ahead of three-time Rolex Kentucky winner Kim Severson on Tipperary Liadhnan (44.8). Becky Holder, on Courageous Comet, is just behind with 45.2 penalties. Severson and Holder each jumped faultless cross-country rounds too.
Two-time Olympic team gold medalist Phillip Dutton, the 2008 Rolex Kentucky winner, stands fourth with The Foreman (47.6) and fifth with Woodburn (47.7). Dutton finished 1 second slow on The Foreman but was faultless on Woodburn. Dutton retired his third mount, Waterfront, on course after a refusal.
Boyd Martin recorded no jumping faults on all three of his mounts today. He finished without time faults on Neville Bardos (eighth place, 51.8) and Rock On Rose (15th place, 59.2) but had 5.2 time faults on Remington XXV (14th place, 59.0).
In anticipation of the forecasted thunderstorms (with a threat of tornadoes), the Rolex Kentucky organizers shortened the cross-country day schedule by canceling the lunch break. Consequently, today's competition was completed by 1:30 p.m., without rain or lightning while the horses were on course. Ten horses finished with no jumping faults inside the optimum time of 11:08. Another 20 horses finished with only time faults.
"He didn't seem overwhelmed by the course at all," said Fox-Pitt, 41, of Cool Mountain, 10. The English-bred Thoroughbred was running his first four-star three-day event. "I wasn't feeling at my best this morning, but he was, and I'm very glad of that because you don't want to throw away a top spot when you're lucky enough to get it. So I'm naturally very happy," he said.
Fox-Pitt said that he is aiming both Cool Mountain and Seacookie, a horse he rode at Rolex Kentucky in 2009, for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park. "Cool Mountain could be a very exciting horse for the autumn, and having been here could only be an advantage," he said.
Severson, 36, of Scottsville, Va., said she was pleasantly surprised to be so near the top. "[Tipperary Liadhnan] has always been a very good cross-country horse, but he got more tired than I thought he would, I think because, as we've seen before, the ground gets more holding as it dries here," said Severson, the Olympic individual silver medalist in 2004. "I think we can have a good show jumping round tomorrow if I can stay out of his way."
Holder, of Chattahoochee, Ga., finished faultlessly despite taking the long route at the second half of the famous Head of the Lake water complex.
"He can be a little bit spooky, and he doesn't like changes in the footing, but as long as I can give him a chance to see where he's going, he'll step up," explained Holder, 41, of her route. "I felt that some of the mistakes in the past were errors of line, so I tried to give him time to see the approaches and read the jumps, and then make it up by galloping between the fences."
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event concludes tomorrow with the show jumping phase, for which festivities will begin at 11:30 a.m.
Townend Recovering After Fall
Oliver Townend of Great Britain, riding at Rolex Kentucky to try to win the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam, fell at fence 20, the Hollow, with sixth-placed Ashdale Cruise Master. Townend, 27, was transported to the University of Kentucky Trauma and Emergency Services-Emergency Department. He was conscious at the time he was transported.
As of 5:00 p.m. EDT, Townend was reported to be up and walking around, and he appeared to be alert.
Ashdale Cruise Mater was examined by attending veterinarians and sustained no injuries.
Earlier in the day, Townend had guided ODT Master Rose to a clear round that was just two seconds slow, putting him in seventh place.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone, is America's only four-star competition and is a member of the HSBC Classic Series. The world's best horses and riders vie for $250,000 in prize money and the coveted Rolex Championship.
Follow the action on the live webcast at www.universalsports.com/equestrian.
This year NBC has expanded its television coverage of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event from 60 to 90 minutes. The program will air on Saturday, May 15, from 3:00 to 4:30 EDT, just prior to the Preakness Stakes.