02 May Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event returns to normalcy
One of the world’s premier equestrian competitions returned to full capacity this past weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The CCI5*-L Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event attracts some of the best horse and rider combinations in the sport of eventing, which combines the disciplines of dressage, cross country and stadium jumping into one competition.
The event welcomed tens of thousands of fans this year after a two year spectator-hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Land Rover Kentucky was canceled in 2020, and the event was held without fans in 2021. Visitors were back in full force for the 2022 edition, with horse lovers from all around filling the stadium, cross country field and trade fair areas.
This year, along with the CCI5*-L, the event hosted the inaugural CCI4*-S Lexington Three Day Event and a two-day show jumping competition. Over 100 horse and rider pairs competed throughout the weekend in the different events.
This year also saw the return of three-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Jung, a three-time champion at the Kentucky Three Day Event who was making his first appearance since 2018. Representing Germany, Jung brought a horse new to the CCI5*-L level in FischerChipmunk FRH.
Jung kicked off the competition with a stellar performance in the dressage ring, setting a CCI5*-L record low score of 20.1 penalties. After two days of dressage, he maintained a steady lead over Great Britain’s Sarah Bullimore and Corouet, 25.7 penalties, in second and USA’s Buck Davidson and Carlevo, 27.4 penalties, in third. Dressage is a discipline in which combinations perform a variety of movements as they are written in a set test. The test allows horse and rider pairs to demonstrate their grace on the flat, with an emphasis on suppleness, concentration and connection.
After the quiet harmony of dressage, the combinations head outside of the arena for what is arguably the most popular discipline of the weekend – cross country. Cross country takes the connection and concentration displayed in dressage, and applies it on a jumping course of natural-looking, traditionally solid jumps. These jumps are similar to what horse and rider pairs would see while fox hunting or trail riding and include logs, ditches, water combinations and more.
Cross country is often a game changer for the leaderboard, as participants can rack up penalty points for finishing over the time or having a refusal on course. Jung is known for his precision on the cross country course, and his ride on FischerChipmunk FRH was no different. The pair came home inside the time to keep their lead, ahead of popular American rider Boyd Martin and his gelding Tsetserleg TSF in second, and Great Britain’s Yasmin Ingham and her mount Banzai Du Loir in third.
For the final day of competition, the competitors ride in reverse order of standing on the stadium jumping course. Stadium jumping differs from cross country in that the jumps, unlike cross country obstacles, are easy to knock down. It’s not uncommon for horses to knock down rails in the stadium phase, emphasizing the need for endurance and a careful horse on the final day of competition.
A few rails and time faults changed around the leaderboard prior to Michael Jung entering the ring, with just six total riders putting in a double clear out of thirty who contested the final round of competition.
Coming into the final round in third place, Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg had a few unlucky rails to drop them out of the top three. Doug Payne and Quantum Leap advanced to third place, and as the highest placing American combination, took home the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship.
Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir held on to second place with a score of 31.7 penalties, earning just .8 time penalties in the Rolex Stadium. Ingham earned the title of top young rider in just her third appearance at the CCI5*-L level.
Jung entered the ring as the final combination to contest the course, with the ability to knock down two rails and still keep the top spot. Putting in a double clear round, he and FischerChipmunk FRH ended the weekend on a historic score of 20.1, the lowest CCI5*-L score in the history of the sport.
“I had a really great feeling in the warm-up, and it makes you a bit more relaxed, but the pressure is on and it was like a test for (the world championships later this year),” said Jung. “So I tried to stay really concentrated and focused with this horse. He’s amazing … I was able to enjoy every phase through this competition.”
Jung took home a year lease of a brand new Land Rover and a brand new Rolex watch, among other prizes, for his victory.
Horse Country members were involved and connected to this signature event in a number of ways, including Hagyard Equine Medical Institute which served as a major sponsor, and the Secretariat Center and New Vocations who participated in demonstrations related to the versatility of off the track thoroughbreds.
The 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event will be held April 27-30, 2023. For more information on the event, please click here.