Lexington, KY - William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain concluded the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone, the same way he began it-in first place. As the last rider to start on today's show jumping course, he and Cool Mountain negotiated all 16 jumps perfectly to capture the $80,000 and the Rolex Steel and Gold Oyster Perpetual Timepiece that go to the winner.
Phillip Dutton, of West Grove, Pa., also recorded a clear round on Woodburn to climb from fourth place to second, while Becky Holder, of Chattahoochee, Ga., lowered one rail on Courageous Comet to hold on to third place. Dutton also finished sixth on The Foreman.
Boyd Martin, of West Grove, Pa., completed the event on three horses, placing fifth with Neville Bardos, 11th with Rock On Rose, and 12th with Remington XXV in the record 53-horse starting field. Kim Severson, who'd been standing second after cross-country on Tipperary Liadhnan, fell to 24th with 24 jumping faults and 12 time faults.
Fox-Pitt, 41, had competed at Rolex Kentucky six times previously but hadn't won before. The 6'5" rider will attempt to win the second leg of the Rolex Grand slam next week when he rides two horses in the Mitsubishi Badminton Three-Day Event in England. (The $350,000 prize goes to any rider who can win Rolex Kentucky, Badminton and the Burghley Three-Day Event in England consecutively.) "I came here hoping for atop-10 placing, and I kept reminding myself of that while I was in the ring today," said Fox-Pitt.
"When you come to a four-star competition like this, you never really know what will happen, but I certainly didn't expect this," he added. "Cool Mountain has come out of this a better horse, and hopefully he'll step up to the [Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games] in the fall."
Second place with Woodburn marked the eighth time that Dutton, 46, has finished in the runner-up position. He won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2008 on Connaught, meaning that he's finished first or second in nine of the 13 CCI4* competitions run at Rolex Kentucky since 1998. "Hopefully he'll win one of these things one of these days, but sometimes you're grateful to be second," said Dutton with a wry grin.
Woodburn was a last-minute entry at Rolex Kentucky. Dutton had planned to ride him at Badminton since he had three or four other horses entered here, but the Icelandic volcano eruption that stranded several Rolex Kentucky officials in Europe also kept Europe-bound cargo flights on the ground. The addition of Woodburn meant that Dutton would be riding four horses and required the organizers to juggle the schedule to give him enough time to warm each horse up before cross-country. He withdrew Kheops Du Quesnay after dressage and retired Waterfront on cross-country.
"I'm pleased I made the decision to ride Woodburn here, and I'm thankful to the organizers for squeezing me in," said Dutton.
Third was Holder's best finish ever at Rolex Kentucky, even though she's been near the top after dressage or cross-country several times. Show jumping has been a disappointment for her and Courageous Comet, though.
"I've had a lot of experience being near the top here after cross-country, and there is a growth that happens that allows you to put all those things that distract you to the side and just go do it," said Holder, who was relieved with today's four-fault performance.
Today's attendance was 16,499. The total for the event was 61,828.
Townend Returns To Kentucky Horse Park
British rider Oliver Townend, who fell at cross-country fence 20 on Saturday, was released from the hospital on Sunday morning and watched the show jumping phase at the Kentucky Horse Park on Sunday afternoon. His horse ODT Master Rose, who had been standing in seventh place after cross-country, was not presented at the third horse inspection and was withdrawn from the competition.
To listen to an interview with Townend, go to www.rk3de.org.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone, is America's only four-star competition and is a member of the HSBC Classic Series. The world's best horses and riders vie for $250,000 in prize money and the coveted Rolex Championship.
The 2010 event marked the 30th consecutive year of sponsorship by Rolex Watch USA.
This year NBC has expanded its television coverage of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event from 60 to 90 minutes. The program will air on Saturday, May 15, from 3:00 to 4:30 EDT, just prior to the Preakness Stakes.
Photo Credit: Phillip Dutton, William Fox-Pitt and Becky Holder take the podium! Photo by Diana DeRosa.