After five second place finishes with five different horses at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Farnam, Phillip Dutton brought last year’s runner-up, Connaught, back to the Kentucky Horse Park and won convincingly with a masterful clear round in the show jumping.
The 15-year-old Irish Thoroughbred gelding, who is owned by Dutton’s longtime supporter Bruce Duchossios, put together three impressive phases and sealed the win with only one of two clear rounds in the final phase. The victory also crowns him the USEF National Champion for the second consecutive year. Dutton was also 10th on Acorn Hill Farm’s Woodburn.
“This is a great horse,” said Dutton about Connaught. “He tries so hard.”
‘Simon’ represented Australia with Dutton at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, before Dutton became an American citizen and began riding for the U.S. in 2007. The hard-trying horse never was close to a rail today. Dutton rode his horse very forward to the fences and it paid off. They added nothing to their overnight score of 41.7.
“Simon never ever wants to hit a rail,” said Dutton. “If he does, it is because he tries so hard.”
Dutton, who lives in West Grove, PA, is a veteran of three Olympics (two of which were team gold medal efforts), three World Championships and just about every major competition in the world – but a four-star victory (and a watch) has always eluded him.
Overnight leader Becky Holder, who didn’t have a rail in hand, had two down on an afternoon where eight faults was a worthy effort. Courageous Comet and Holder have been working diligently on their show jumping and it showed in their composure. They finished up second behind Dutton on a final score of 47.3.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with my horse, thrilled with my round,” said Holder. “I’m not too sad to come second to Phillip Dutton. I expected a clear round out of Phillip. Connaught consistently jumps beautiful clear rounds. I mentally prepared for that.”
Holder, of Mendota Heights, MN, put on a professional performance all weekend beginning with a brilliant dressage mark. Riding for her husband Tom who owns Comet, their cross country was foot perfect and Holder was incredibly proud of her horse’s effort. Comet, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred was a success on the race track before he turned his hoof to eventing.
“I’m really proud of my horse and of my round,” said Holder after the show jumping. “We have been working very hard and will continue to keep trying to improve. This weekend has been a privilege and an honor.”
Missy Ransehousen jumped up the leaderboard to her best four-star finish ever, joining Dutton and Holder in that department. Ransehousen, who lives just down the road from Dutton in Unionville, PA, added just one rail to her dressage score with the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Critical Decision. They finished 10 points behind Holder on a score of 57.3. Owned by her mother, dressage guru Jessica, Critical Decision cruised around the show jumping course having just the first fence of the final combination down.
“I was quite pleased with my horse,” said Ransehousen. “Usually with the crowd he gets very excited and his head goes up. My goal today was to get him through the course the best I could. I felt like we really worked together out there today.”Stephen Bradley and Brandenburg’s Joshua jumped the only other clear round to finish fourth on 57.5, Kim Severson, who won this event three times with the mighty Winsome Adante (who was officially honored in a retirement ceremony today) was fifth with Tipperary Liadnhan on 62.6. Eventing’s super pony Theodore O’Connor and Karen O’Connor were sixth on a score of 66.2.
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