Great anticipation surrounds the resumption of the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012 season, with record entries for the third leg, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) presented by Bridgestone this week (26-29 April). With CCI4* competitions having taken place in France and, for the first time Australia, the HSBC FEI Classics™ has become truly global, prompting the first and third-placed riders in the current standings to fly to Kentucky in the hope of maintaining their momentum in this series, which carries the most valuable single prize in Eventing.
William Fox-Pitt (GBR), winner of Pau (FRA) last year and current leader in the HSBC FEI Classics™ from Adelaide (AUS) winner Stuart Tinney (AUS), is a perennial visitor to Kentucky – he won it two years ago on Cool Mountain. This time the three-time Olympian, who will be wearing the HSBC Rider Rankings armband as points leader, brings an exciting new talent in Parklane Hawk, the Australian-bred Thoroughbred that gave him a record sixth Burghley victory in 2011.
Andrew Nicholson (NZL), presently in third place in the HSBC FEI Classics™, made it into the top five cash prizes for the first time last year, in third place. He has entered three horses for Kentucky: the elegant Shady Grey, runner-up in Pau last year, and youngsters Qwanza and Calico Joe which he suggests could be his Olympic reserve horses.
Kentucky represents a significant Olympic trial for American riders, who are out in force, headed by Phillip Dutton (Fernhill Eagle and Mighty Nice) and Boyd Martin (Ying-Yang-Yo, Otis Barbotiere and Remington XXV). There will also be keen interest surrounding senior US rider Karen O’Connor’s CCI4* debut with her new horse, Mr Medicott, previously an Olympic gold medallist and European bronze medallist with Germany’s Frank Ostholt.
Australia has two former Kentucky winners entered: Clayton Fredericks, who has his 2007 winner Ben Along Time back in action, and Andrew Hoy (2006), who is hoping a good result on Rutherglen will move him back into Olympic reckoning.
British riders Oliver Townend (Pepper Anne and Sonas Rovatio) and Lucy Wiegersma (Grantevka Prince) will no doubt be interested to meet their California-based compatriot James Allison, who has been attracting the selectors’ interest with a sensational string of international successes on US soil. The 26-year-old, who runs Gracelands Equestrian Centre outside San Francisco, has entered Parker and Jumbo’s Jake.
“The line-up of riders and horses entered in this year’s event is truly amazing,” says Christina Gray, Director of Competition. “Adding to the record field of US entries, we also have a record number of entries from overseas including some of our sport’s legendary names. Anyone who follows Eventing will want to be on hand this year for what promises to be the most exciting Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event ever!”
Cross Country Course Designer Derek di Grazia (USA) says his team has been working hard on the course. “I hate to jinx it, but we’ve had an early spring, so we’ve already mowed the course five times. We’ve put a lot of effort into the footing,” he said.
For start list and results, visit www.rk3de.org.
HSBC’s Training Bursary
At the centre of HSBC’s sponsorship is a commitment to the development of Eventing at every level. As part of their support of the HSBC FEI Classics™, HSBC has introduced a Training Bursary. This is a unique award which is presented to the highest placed rider ever to have completed a 4* event prior to 1st January 2011. The winning rider receives a training voucher to the value of $1,000, which is spent on sessions with a trainer of the athlete’s choice approved by FEI and National Federation. Further information can be found here: http://www.fei.org/hsbc/hsbc-training-bursary
HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012 Leaderboard (after 2 out of 6 events):
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 15
2 Stuart Tinney (AUS) 15
3 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 12
4 Sonja Johnson (AUS) 12
5 Emma Mason (AUS) 10
6 Mary King (GBR) 8
7 Natalie Blundell (AUS) 8
8 Nicolas Touzaint (FRA) 6
9 Shane Rose (AUS) 6
10 Clayton Fredericks (AUS) 6
Watch the action live on FEI TV:
Day 1 Dressage 26 April
Day 2 Dressage 27 April
Cross Country 28 April
Jumping 29 April
HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012 calendar
Les Etoiles de Pau CCI 4* (FRA) - 12-16 October 2011
Australian International 3 Day Event (AUS) - 18-20 November 2011
Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) - 26-29 April 2012
Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) - 4-7 May 2012
Luhmühlen CCI 4* (GER) - 14-17 June 2012
The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) - 30 August-2 September 2012
Photo caption: William Fox-Pitt, winner of Pau (FRA) last year with Oslo and current leader of the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012, heads into Kentucky with Parklane Hawk. Image: Kit Houghton/FEI.