Lexington, KY - Michael Pollard grabbed the early lead on the first day of dressage at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover, scoring 49.5 penalties on Mensa G. That score just eclipsed the score of 49.8 penalties earned by Will Faudree on Pawlow. Doug Payne scored 51.2 on Crown Talisman to claim third place. The dressage judges at this year's Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event are Sandy Phillips of Great Britain, Gillian Rolton of Australia and Christina Klingspor of Sweden. "I like to say that, on dressage day, you can't win the event, but you certainly can lose it. I'm probably not going to keep the lead tomorrow, but this is a good start," said Pollard, 33, of Dalton, Ga. "I just tried not to panic before I went in the ring." Mensa G is a 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding by Colonial Affair-Fire The Secretary, Stop The Music, bred by Rutledge Farm in Middleburg, Va. Colonial Affair won the 1993 Belmont Stakes. Pollard, wife Nathalie Pollard and father-in-law Carl Bouckaert have owned him for two years.
Faudree, 32, of Southern Pines, N.C., said he thought that he "threw points away" with mistakes at the counter-canter and medium trot. But "all in all he stayed very rideable throughout the test, and overall I was happy."
Faudree added, "It's a disadvantage to go on Thursday morning (when the crowd is the smallest) with a horse who benefits from atmosphere. The more atmosphere there is around the ring, the less I have to kick and the more I can show off what he can do."
Pawlow, 15, is an Irish-bred Thoroughbred gelding by Marcuzzi who finished sixth at the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event with Faudree aboard.
But Payne, who celebrated his marriage just a few weeks ago, thought that going on the quieter Thursday was an advantage for him. "Crown Talisman is a little more excitable, so it was good for him to get this experience," he said.
Unlike the other leaders, Payne will not be starting on Saturday's cross-country course, though. He's received a Land Rover travel grant to compete Crown Talisman at the Saumur CCI4* in France later this year. Still, he had high praise for the cross-country course Derek di Grazia has created for this year's event. Di Grazia has been designing the Rolex Kentucky course since 2011.
"It's a hell of a lot easier to comment on a course that you don't have to ride," he said with a smile. "But I think that Derek often doesn't get as much credit as he deserves. The great thing with his course is that if you jump into the first element right, it generally works out. The horses really read his questions well and jump them well. I don't think he penalizes the horses."
Said Pollard, the father of four young children, "This course always looks big to me. I have yet to walk a four-star where it seems easy. It may be a little bit stiffer this year, because it's a World Championship selection trial, but it's always hard."
The official Thursday event attendance was 7,004
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Presented by Land Rover, April 24-27 at the Kentucky Horse Park, is one of the world's most prestigious equestrian competitions 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.
The 2014 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is a selection trial for the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games and will crown the 17th Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champion. The only four-star event in the Western Hemisphere, Rolex Kentucky draws an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 spectators and is seen by millions more on worldwide telecasts.
This year, for the first time ever, Rolex Kentucky includes a team challenge. The Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge will award $20,000 in prize money, while helping national teams prepare for the team competition at the World Equestrian Games this summer. The winning nation will be the nation with the fewest penalties after adding together the final scores of the three highest-placed individuals from that nation.
Rolex Kentucky is a fun time for all in attendance. Aside from the competition, the event features exquisite shopping in the Sponsor Village; an International Trade Fair with almost 200 booths and tents displaying designer clothing, artwork, gifts, sport clothing, horse-related items, and event souvenir items; and the brand-new "Kentucky Uncovered," which highlights products unique to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Rolex Kentucky also features a variety of other entertaining attractions. General admission to the Kentucky Horse Park, America's only theme park dedicated to horses, is included with each Rolex Kentucky ticket.
Coverage of America's only Four Star Event includes an NBC broadcast - the Rolex Equestrian Championships presented by Land Rover - which will air on Sunday, May 4. All four days of the competition is being streamed online LIVE on USEFNetwork.com, presented by SmartPak, beginning on Thursday, April 24.
For equestrian fans throughout the rest of the world, FEI TV is airing LIVE coverage of Saturday's cross-country and Sunday's show jumping competitions. To sign up for FEI TV, visit www.feitv.org.
The broadcast schedule is listed below, and is also available on the USEF Network coverage page, www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2014Rolex/. All broadcast times are subject to change.
- April 24: LIVE Dressage on USEFNetwork.com, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT
- April 25: LIVE Dressage on USEFNetwork.com, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT
- April 26: LIVE Cross-Country on USEFNetwork.com, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT
- April 27: LIVE Show Jumping on USEFNetwork.com, 1:15 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT
- Awards Ceremony on USEFNetwork.com, 3:00 p.m. EDT
- May 4: Rolex Equestrian Championships on NBC, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT
Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI) is a non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation that was established initially to produce the 1978 World Three-Day Event Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the success of those championships, EEI established an annual event which quickly evolved into what is today the only Four Star three-day event in the Western Hemisphere, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The Kentucky Reining cup was incorporated as part of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event schedule in 2011.
For complete information, please visit www.RK3DE.org.
Stay up to date with Rolex Kentucky!