Dutch Rider Tim Lips Leads European Sweep on First Day of Dressage at 2009 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event; Sexson Tops Americans in Hunt for Twelfth Rolex/USEF National CCI**** Championship

Friday, April 24, 2009
Posted by Christy


Lexington, KY – The 2009 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event got off to a flying start at the Kentucky Horse Park. In the spectacular brand-new Main Stadium, 24 of the field of 50 went to task in the dressage ring. With a Rolex Watch, plenty of prize money and the Rolex/USEF National Championship on the line, the competition proved to be tough. Twenty foreign riders are taking on the Americans in 2009, many taking the opportunity to scope out the Kentucky Horse Park with the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in mind.

Photo courtesy of Messer Construction

Tim Lips put in a very impressive effort for The Netherlands on the classy bay gelding, Concrex Concarlos. With impressive paces and great confidence about him, Concrex Concarlos did very good flying changes and very accurate lateral work. His score of 42.0 was the best of the day. 

“Its been a long trip,” said Lips after his ride. “Its great to be in the top then in the end, I’m really happy to be in the lead.”

The 13-year-old Dutch gelding and Lips represented The Netherlands at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.

Oliver Townend and Andrew Cawthrey’s Carousel Quest, a flashy grey Thoroughbred gelding, inherited the lead from fellow British rider, William Fox-Pitt, halfway through the day. Townend is always a consistent performer in the UK but this is his first trip to Kentucky.

“It’s a great start,” said Townend who is on an overnight score of 45.2. “But I think we all prefer to be at these press conferences on Sunday night.”

The first group of riders on the first day of dressage produced some of the very best marks of the day, Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt and Navigator put in a polished performance, typical of the top ranked rider in the world.

Photo Credit: Kit Houghton/FEI

Navigator put in a very honest effort for Fox-Pitt and the Barts Ladies, who own the 10-year-old Australian Thoroughbred gelding as the fourth combination in the ring. Their score of 46.7 put them third at the end of the first day. Fox-Pitt knows that tomorrow defending these top three positions could prove difficult as there are plenty of formidable competitors to go into the ring.

“There are very good horses coming tomorrow,” said Fox Pitt. “The judges may be saving some of those nines and tens for the old pros tomorrow.”

Those include the 2008 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event winner, Connaught, who goes at the end of the day on Friday with American Phillip Dutton.  Dutton went early on Thursday with his first ride, Woodburn, and the pair lay tied for eighth halfway through the competition.

California pair, Jolie Sexson and Killian O’Connor, who recently won the Galway Downs CIC*** in their final preparation for this competition are the highest placed American combination after the first day. They sit fourth on a score of 47.3, in very good company at their first CCI****. The 11-year-old Irish/Selle Francais cross is owned by Tracy Bowman.

Fox-Pitt, is the only rider with one leg of the Rolex Grand Slam under his belt, having won Burghley CCI**** in 2008. The Rolex Grand Slam is a very formidable challenge, featuring three major international CCI****s: Badminton, Burghley and Rolex Kentucky. A cash prize of $350,000 is awarded to any rider who can win the three competitions in succession. It has been won once before, by Pippa Funnell in 2003. Fox-Pitt has two chances in this competition, he rides Seacookie tomorrow afternoon.

In 2009, Rolex Kentucky is included in HSBC Classics Series for the first time. The series includes the five major CCI****s in the world. With significant prize money on the line, the series begins with this event and culminates at the Les Etoiles de Pau in France in October. For more information about the HSBC Classics Series, please visit: http://www.fei.org/Disciplines/Eventing/Pages/HSBCFEIClassics.aspx.

For a schedule, live results, a link to the live feed and all the information about the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, please visit: www.rk3de.org.

Please contact Joanie Morris at jmorris@usef.org with questions.