Lexington, Ky. - The 0.4 time faults that result from being 1 second slow is the difference between Tim Price of New Zealand, riding Wesko (36.3), and Michael Jung of Germany, riding on La Biosthetique Sam FBW (36.7), in the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover. Jung is also third on Fischerrocana FST (39.3).
Jung, the 2010 World Champion and 2012 Olympic Champion on Sam, began the day by guiding Fischerrocana to a faultless round. Then Price did the same with Wesko, despite being held on course because a rider ahead of him had fallen. And then, just before the end of the day, Jung galloped through the finish 1 second slow with Sam. He'd galloped aggressively around the course, and he couldn't say where he'd fallen just behind the optimum time of 11:06. Jung didn't blame his tardiness on the footing, which became increasingly slippery and deep as rain fell throughout the day. "OK, yes, I'm a little bit sad about the 1 second, but the ground was not very bad, not very deep. Sam started well and jumped clear. The ground was very well prepared, and he jumped and galloped well," he said.
Price, 36, said he'd been worried about the weather since Friday afternoon. "I opened the curtains this morning and gingerly looked out," he admitted. "It was always going to be a track of riding well and using your intuition all the way around. I just went out and trusted my horse and tried to give him a good trip between the fences. I had a great round, really."
But he wasn't completely sure he'd finished under the optimum time until after he'd dismounted, because the long hold on course had confounded his timing. "I wished I stayed at school a little longer to do those calculations," he said with a smile. "I just tried to use the break to my advantage. It was a little longer than was beneficial, but I had to make do with what I had and get on with the job."
On Friday afternoon, the ground jury (Angela Tucker, Wayne Quarles and Ernst Topp) and technical delegate Tom Ryckewaert met with Lee Carter and Vanessa Coleman of Equestrian Events Inc. to discuss schedule changes in anticipation of the strong thunderstorms forecast for Saturday. They decided to move up the start time by 15 minutes and to shorten the interval between horses from 5 minutes to 3 minutes, reducing the length of the competition day by two hours and 20 minutes. They hoped to conclude the competition before heavy thunderstorms struck the Lexington area. That plan succeeded, although rain fell throughout the day, with occasional hard showers. Riders said that although the ground was slippery or deep in places, the footing remained firm before and after the jumps. And at no time was the competition halted because of thunderstorms or other severe weather.
All told, 71 horses started, with 46 of them finishing. Some 31 jumped clear, with six of them also finishing with no time faults. Another 15 finished with jumping penalties. Some 15 horses were eliminated, and 10 were retired.
"There are a lot of people that make this thing work, and on a day like this they really did make it work," said cross-country course designer Derek di Grazia, who created a redesigned track and numerous new questions.
"My goal was to do something different and to give the riders new things to look at. We built quite a few new jumps and sent the horses and riders in a new way. These guys are great, great riders, and they went out there and did what they needed to do," he added.
Boyd Martin (in sixth place on Master Frisky) and Phillip Dutton (in seventh place on Mighty Nice) are the highest-placed American riders, but the happiest American rider on Saturday afternoon was Will Coleman, who's just behind them in eighth place on Obos O'Reilly. That's because-by finishing 1 second under the optimum time-Coleman won the Land Rover Best Ride of the Day Award. And the prize is a two-year free lease on a 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport.
"I had some dirty pants this morning thinking about today, because he hadn't done a three-day in a long time," said Coleman, 32, of Gordonsville, Va.
"This may be the only time I get to sit in the driver's seat, though, because I believe my wife, Katie, will drive it the most. I'll probably be lucky if I get to sit in it at all," he added with a smile.
The combined team of Ireland, Germany, New Zealand and Australia continues to lead the Dubarry Nations Team Challenge (121.6), over the United States (225.2), Great Britain (1,103.7) and Canada (2099.9).
Today's paid attendance was 31, 856.
Show jumping starts on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
"Rolex Kentucky" is one of the world's most prestigious equestrian competitions, and is one of only six Four-Star Three-Day Events in the world and the only one in the Western Hemisphere. It is a part of the FEI Classics Series, which unites the top four-star Eventing competitions from around the world. It also gives competitors 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.