William Fox-Pitt Keeps Cool at First 0f 2010 HSBC FEI Classics™

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) gave a masterclass in Cross Country riding at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, the first leg of the 2010 HSBC FEI Classics™, and has maintained his overnight lead. Giving a confidence-boosting ride to the 10-year-old Cool Mountain, for whom it is a first 4-star, he finished easily inside the optimum time.

However, Fox-Pitt, a superb horseman and already the winner of Badminton, Luhmuhlen and Burghley (five times), does not have the luxury of a Jumping fence in hand in which to tick the box on winning the USA’s premier event, and he has four leading riders from the host nation behind him, all determined to secure their places at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games here in September.

Kim Severson (USA), a three-times winner of the Rolex, was a magnificent sight across country on the grey Tipperary Liadhnan and is just 2 penalties in arrears in second place. Becky Holder (USA) and Courageous Comet, another grey, showed all their experience to come home inside the optimum time in 3rd, and are also within a whisker of winning.

Phillip Dutton (USA) was as consistent as sever, and is in 4th and 5th places, ahead of the hugely experienced Karen O’Connor (USA), who slipped four places to 6th with 4.4 time faults on Mandiba. However, she said: “I am thrilled. I got a little nervous landing over the 4th fence when I lost a shoe and thought, now what is my plan? But Mandiba felt really ready for today and he gave me a great ride.”

Oliver Townend’s best hope for the Rolex Grand Slam, Ashdale Cruise Master, fell at the influential Hollow fence. The partnership had looked superb up to that point, but the grey gelding just didn’t get high enough at the rail in. Townend, who is currently in 7th place with ODT Master Rose, was quickly helicoptered to hospital for examination, where he was reported to be in good spirits. The horse was uninjured in the fall.

High Profile

Allison Springer (USA), lying equal 2nd after dressage on Arthur, suffered a disappointing refusal going into the Hollow when missing the stride to the rail in.

Leslie Law (GBR), equal 13th after Dressage on Fleeceworks Mystere du Val, had a determined shot at this horse’s first 4-star – and Law’s first for five years – but the horse’s inexperience eventually showed and he retired after a run-out at the brush corner in the Head of the Lake and at the narrow ‘squirrel’ brush.

Geoff Curran’s journey from Ireland was as long as Townend’s, and that ended unfortunately as well, with a refusal into the Head of the Lake on The Jump Jet.

Amy Tryon withdrew her first horse, Leyland, apparently with a view to saving him for the WEG, and retired after a couple of run-outs on Coal Creek. And the last rider to go, Dutton, standing in for Jan Byyny, who is reported to be recovering well after a fall, had a run-out at the second part of the coffin and, having been held due to Townend’s fall, retired.

Thus the penultimate rider on course, Boyd Martin, deputising for Bruce Davidson, who has had an operation – he wore Davidson’s famous red and yellow colours – on Rock On Rosa, had the track to himself, having been held during Townend’s fall. Like Dutton, he was also three-handed, and is lying 8th, 14th and 15th.

There are four Canadian riders in the top 12, which must be pleasing their team trainer, David O’Connor, and it seems the nation, which won the last World Championships at Kentucky, in 1978, is putting in a determined challenge 32 years later.

Plaudits abounded for Course Designer Mike Etherington-Smith (GBR), whose last year it is at Kentucky. The organisers decided to eschew the traditional lunch-break and carry straight through the day as a storm was forecast, but in the end the black clouds held off and everyone enjoyed a beautiful sunny day, with all riders reporting the footing to be perfect -one-fifth of the field achieved the optimum time of just over 11 minutes.


  • 51 started Cross country
  • 30 clear rounds
  • 10 inside time
  • 7 eliminations; 5 retirements


  • 1 William Fox-Pitt/Cool Mountain (GBR) 42.8 + 0 = 42.8
  • 2 Kim Severson/Tipperary Liadhnan (USA) 44.8 + 0 = 44.8
  • 3 Becky Holder/Courageous Comet (USA) 45.2 + 0 = 45.2
  • 4 Phillip Dutton/The Foreman (USA) 47.2 + 0.4 = 47.6
  • 5 Phillip Dutton/Woodburn (USA) 47.7 + 0 = 47.6
  • 6 Karen O’Connor/Mandiba (USA) 43.7 + 4.4 = 48.1
  • 7 Oliver Townend/ODT Master Rose 49.8 + 0.8 = 50.6
  • 8 Boyd Martin/Neville Bardos (USA) 51.8 + 0 = 51.8
  • 9 Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch/Port Authority (CAN) 52 + 0 = 52
  • 10 Selina O’Hanlon/Colombo (USA) 52.7 + 0 = 52.7

Full results on www.rk3de.org

HSBC FEI Classics™ Calendar of Events in 2010
1. 21-25 April - Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA)
2. 30 April - 03 May Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR)
3. 17-20 June - Luhmühlen CCI**** presented by E.ON Avacon (GER)
4. 2-5 September – Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR)
5. 4-7 November – Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA)  

Prize Money
HSBC will contribute US$ 1million to the series over the next three years. Prize-money is awarded, as follows, to the top five riders on the leaderboard after the fifth and final event:

Winners of the 2009 Season
1. Oliver Townend (GBR) - US$ 150,000 (Series champion);
2. Dirk Schrade (GER) - US$ 75,000;
3. Andreas Dibowski - (GER) US$ 50,000;
4. William Fox-Pitt (GBR) - US$ 33,000;
5. Sam Griffiths (AUS) - US$ 25,000

Note - A further update on Oliver Townend’s medical condition will be issued when available.

Photo caption: William Fox-Pitt (GBR) aboard Cool Mountain is in the lead after the Cross-Country phase of the first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™ at Lexington, KY (USA). (c) Amy Dragoo/FEI.

FEI TV (www.feitv.org) will offer live streaming and extensive Video on Demand coverage from the first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™, the Rolex Three Day Event. The provisional schedule for the live broadcasts is as follows:  
Sunday, 25 April 2010: 19:00–20:30 CEST / 17:00-18:30 GMT Jumping
Please check www.feitv.org for broadcasting times and further details!