What a day, what a DAY for stadium jumping! The weather was hot and sunny which was a VERY nice relief from Friday’s cold and rainy weather. The stadium course, designed by Richard Jeffery for the 17th year in a row, was stunning and gorgeous… and tough. This one proved to be a challenge with many questions that tested the endurance of the horses after Saturday’s Cross-Country Course. And they were tested!
The Stadium round only had 36 riders slated for jumping. This was the result of the large number of riders who either withdrew, retired or were eliminated on Saturday’s Cross Country. (See ‘Cross Country Test – Brief Recap’ below). That’s a huge drop from the 61 who started off in Dressage on Thursday and from the the original 82 combinations that initially signed up before First Horse Inspection.
William Fox-Pitt wowed the crowd with a flawless show-jumping round, managing to capture first place for the third time with a score of 44.0. During the media interview, he was asked how he was going to wear all of his watches. His reply “My wife, Alice, has the second one, and I guess this one will be for one of my sons.”
Placing second was Lauren Kieffer (26) of Middleburg, VA., on Veronica, who had a close score of 46.7 and won the USEF Four-Star Championship as well. This is Lauren’s second time participating in Rolex. Her horse bears the nickname ‘Pirannica’ due to her off-putting persona at times.
Buck Davidson of Ocala, FLA, on Ballynoe Castle RM placed a respectable third with a score of 51.7, up one spot from last year’s fourth place at Rolex.
Subsequent placings were 4th Sinead Halpin (USA) on Manior de Carneville with a 51.7 (tied with Buck Davidson), and 5th Marilyn Little (USA) on RF Smoke on the Water with a 52.5. For the Final Results, please go to www.rk3de.com
As before, this year’s jumps were tough. The two major incidents that stood out to me the most were USA’s Katie Frie and Houdini who ran straight into the 1st fence, completely stopping and derailing the works. They collected their composure while the fence was rebuilt and went on to finish the round.
Another favourite, Brazil’s Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too had a complete stop at fence combination 11a with Ruy sailing over Tom’s head and landing with an athletic roll. Tom cantered off for two ‘at liberty’ rounds before he was caught by ring stewards. I truly hope that Ruy Fonseca will return to Rolex to compete next year.
Stay tuned for photos from all 5 days of Rolex coming soon. We will be posting where they will be up for viewing in the next day or two.
Cross Country Test – Brief Recap
There were many riders who withdrew their horses on Saturday’s Cross Country test or who retired during the course. The top three fences that caught many a rider were all combination fences.
On Fence 5 abc (Water Park) Allison Springer retired Copycat Chloe, and three riders, Will Faudree (Pawlow), Lindsey Oaks (Enchantez) and Caitlin Silliman (Catch a Star), all incurred penalties. At fence 12 ab (Tobacco stripping Bench / Whiskey Corners) Will Faudree ended up retiring Pawlow and Jennie Brannigan (Cambalda) was eliminated. Sharon White (Rafferty’s Rules) and Alice Dunsdon (Fernhill Present) both had penalties at this fence.
The last one, Fence abcd (Normandy Bank), was a challenging combination as well with both Jonathan Holling (Zatopek B) and Emily Beshear (Here’s to You) retiring their horses. Erin Sylvester (No Boundaries) was eliminated and Julie Norman (Consensus) and Allison Springer (Arthur) both incurred penalties as well.
At the end of the Cross Country day, 5 withdrew, 6 were retired, and 10 riders were eliminated. You can do a Virtual Cross Country Course Walk here which is pretty cool: http://www.rk3de.org/virtual_course.php
Interview with Robert Meyerhoff
With Bobby and Token being first timers at Rolex this year, Bobby had a solid plan to ride the Cross Country course. With such a strong horse, his strategy for riding the test was sound and made sense and was working all the way through up until combination fence 25 where they fell and were eliminated. Unfortunately, like so many stories you hear from many an eventer, it’s close to home where the tumbles happen. This was the case with Bobby and Token on Saturday’s XC Course.
B: “The ride went exactly as I planned it and Token responded well to the course. We were on it and cruising around and took all the fast routes.”
“Fence 14 abc, Keyhole, was tough. I wanted to do the 6-4 and I added one stride going into the keyhole to make an extra step and make it smooth.” He had planned on adding the this stride as early as possible when he landed in order to make the ride more smooth. I was staked at this tough fence combination photographing, they looked great coming through.
D: “What did you think of the steep offset combination at brush fences 16 ab?” (see Virtual Course Walk here for all the fences discussed in this report: http://www.rk3de.org/virtual_course.php)
B: “I thought it was tough. I commend Derek (on this design), it was a doable combination but very difficult at the same time. My horse read it well and handled it well.”
D: “The Head of the Lake had a tough set of combinations. What were your thoughts on this and how did you both handle this?”
B: “This went great for us. The jump in was quite big. As Token jumps so big, we came in quite slow and just popped right over the fence into the lake. Going out and around, I took the direct vertical coming back in, but bowed the line in more of an angle. I wanted to make a smooth round turn so I could do a bending line to the 4 instead of a straight 3.”
D: “So you had an accident near the end. What happened?”
B: “At jump 24, I looked at my watch for the 1st time during the ride and was surprised as to how ‘right’ I was on time. Approaching the combination at 25 I just sat up, rebalanced my horse, jumped the ‘in’ good, rode down the 4. I thought I was at a very good distance, but I knew my horse was tired. I closed my leg in order to help him jump it but I think that just pushed him into the fence. He rubbed up on it enough to throw us off balance. Token fell over and went down on his left shoulder and we slid off to the side.”
Thankfully Bobby had cleared himself enough that Token did not fall right on him. In the 10 years they have been together, they have never taken a fall. Token is ok, he jogged up sound, was bright-eyed that evening and seemed good.
“Looking at the (video) I could be critical. I don’t blame the horse at all. I do believe I over-rode B. I probably could have rode more to the right so he could have had more room and to have a better ride.”
Future plans for Bobby include taking his second horse, Utah B, to Jersey Fresh 3*** on May 7th where he hopes to redeem himself. Currently future plans for showing Token include either taking him to Burghley 4**** and /or to Fair Hills 3*** this fall.
We wish all the best to you Bobby!
Guess who I ran into on the way back to the campground on Friday! (And me without my camera…thank gosh for the cell phone). RK3DE rider, Ellen Doughty (now Mrs. Hume) and her husband, Alistair, and family pose for photos beside the lake at the Kentucky Horse Park. Congratulations to the happy couple!
Wrapping it up – Sunday night thoughts.
We have a large contingency of Indianapolis (Indiana) eventing people that stay at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground every year. This is also an opportunity to catch up with our friends who travel from other states to see Rolex as well. Saturday was a fun gathering with a ‘pitch -in’ where there is great food, drink and comradeship. It’s also a visual and emotional recap of the day where everyone shares their thoughts, experiences, and photos from being on the Cross-Country course and from the past few days in general. “I was there on Fence 5 when …” and such stories abound. The smell of campfire smoke and the sounds of parties surround you in their entirety. Actually, the trailer still has the campfire smell in it. That’s our new ‘air freshener’ apparently.
Anyway, RK3DE weekend has wound up and after a 3 1/2 hour drive I am now home. Some of my friends, both old and new alike, are heading home tonight to all four corners of the globe. It has been SO much fun photographing at the Kentucky Horse Park and I am struck with how FAST these 5 days went by in a blur. Also, it is nice being asked if you need a lift to some far-corner of the park when you are carrying a heavy load of camera gear, and needing to hike a long way to get to your favourite cross-country photography spot. I am eternally grateful for those rides provided by some of the 200+ Rolex Volunteers this weekend. All of the volunteers were amazing!
Being a credentialed media person at Rolex was an amazing experience that I will not forget anytime soon. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to have done this for E-Venting.
Remember to stay tuned for my 5-day photo gallery of Rolex.
Until next time… ‘Leg On!’
Staying up late is part of the game as a photographer / blogger (mayhap called: phoblographer?) and my sweet boxer, Mister, loves to keep me company.
“Darla is an equestrian sports photographer based out of Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. She is also the Co-Owner/Administrator of the Facebook photography group called ‘The Nifty Photographer”. You can follow her on Facebook (Darla Aniline Photography), Twitter (@kayakgal01), Instagram, Flicker and Pinterest. www.darlaanilinephotography.com”