Lexington, KY - Good fortune in the dressage ring continued for the 2011 Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the 2011 Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials. The final two U.S. riders drew Friday times and both of them produced very competitive efforts. Clark Montgomery led the day for the USA with a score of 45.4. He rode Holly Becker, Kathleen Kraft and Carole Montgomery's Loughan Glen to a score of 45.4. The CCI3* winners at the Bromont International Horse Trials in June, Loughan Glen and Montgomery received a Land Rover Competition and Training Grant to test their form in the U.K.
Montgomery and the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse had two mistakes, keeping them from an even better score, and there was more than a 20-point differential in the judges' marks. They sit in seventh place heading into the cross-country. "I was very happy with Glen today," said Montgomery. "Overall, I felt the quality of work has improved from Bromont. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the extended trot and then forgot my halt so I am a couple of points higher than I should be. I am really looking forward to the cross-country tomorrow. The course is beautiful and the ground is perfect."
They are less than a point and one place ahead of teammate Jules Stiller who rode a stellar test on Thursday on Headley Stud Eventing's Enjoy Me. They head to the cross-country on a score of 46.2, just a few marks ahead of California Rider Tiana Coudray and Jaital, Inc.'s Ringwood Magister on a 49.4.
Two-time Olympic Gold medalist Phillip Dutton was impressed with how well Mighty Nice handled his first CCI3*. Bruce Duchossois' 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding scored 51.3 in his first try at the level. Mighty Nice, a very promising young horse for the veteran rider, was a recipient of a Land Rover Competition and Training Grant and Dutton took full advantage of the opportunity to get Mighty Nice some international experience early in his career.
"I was really pleased with 'Happy,'" said Dutton. "In particular, the way he handled kept his composure with the atmosphere today. Now the focus in on the cross-country."
They will tackle the cross-country in 18th place, but less than 15 points separate the top-40 horses so it is likely to be an incredibly close competition. German dressage specialist Bettina Hoy leads the field on a score of 42.1 with Lanfranco TSF and Piggy French sits second and third for Great Britain on Lemington Lett Dance and DHI Topper W, respectively.
Information about Land Rover's partnership with the USEF is available here: http://www.landrover.com/us/en/lr/experience-land-rover/sponsorships-events/equestrian-usef/
Follow the U.S. Eventers in Europe throughout this fall on the USEFNetwork.com here: http://usefnetwork.com/featured/EventersinEurope/
Scores and results are available here: http://www.bdwp.co.uk/ble/
Photo: Clark Montgomery and Carole Montgomery's Loughan Glen. Photo by Cealy Tetley