It came down to the last jump, but Great Britain’s Oliver Townend successfully defended his title of champion at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN by putting in a perfect performance in the show jumping with Cooley Master Class with a score of 25.3.
American Boyd Martin also turned in a fault-free show jumping round to finish second on 27.9 and claim the top spot for the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Championship presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN, while New Zealand’s Tim Price, also faultless, finished third with Xavier Faer (30.9).
Townend, with his back-to-back win, joins the illustrious company of Bruce Davidson, Kim Severson and Michael Jung as only the fourth person to defend his title in the event’s 41-year history. He has been riding Cooley Master Class, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse since the horse was four, initially picking up the ride from Olympian Andrew Nicholson and then finding a buyer, owner Angela Hislop, to allow him to keep the ride on the horse. In his early years, according to Townend, the bay gelding was prone to niggling injuries, but they’ve put the past behind them and risen to the top of the sport.
“We’ve had the horse from word go, and it’s a huge team effort,” Townend, 36, Dudleston Heath, Ellesmere, Shropshire, England, said. “So much effort goes into it, not just on my part. The horse has had a checkered career and we’ve finally got him on top form. We’ve always believed in the horse, and it’s thanks to everybody at home putting in a huge team effort. It was just my job to push the buttons at the right point in time. I couldn’t be more proud of the horse and the whole team.”
Tension in the stadium was high as each of the horses cantered around Richard Jeffery’s challenging track, and as each clean round was accomplished, it ratcheted up the pressure for the riders still to come.
“It was a bit of a different situation as I came from behind last year,” Townend said of having to go last in the ring as the overnight leader. “It was much nicer (last year) to come in the ring in third place. This time I had to see the other guys sitting outside and these two lads (Price and Martin) did some job in their rounds. I’ve known Tim’s horse most of his life and I saw Boyd’s (in the warm-up) and he must have ridden well to say the least.
“Obviously my round went to plan,” he continued. “We had a rub at the Land Rover water tray but he’s a very good jumper so even when he touches a jump, he does it lightly and then apologizes for the next six jumps. It was definitely the most (high pressure) round I’ve ever ridden and I’m just glad I didn’t muck it up for him.”
Ultimately, there were 10 fault-free rounds, including the top three riders. Australia’s Dominic Schramm and Bolytair B (31st/92.6), set the stage early with a faultless performance as the first in the ring. Other double clear rounds belonged to Paddy the Caddy and Erin Sylvester (19th/57.0), Tight Lines and William Coleman (13th/50.7), Harbour Pilot and Hannah Sue Burnett (11th/48.4), Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre’ (10th/48.1), Vandiver and Doug Payne (5th/35.9, also, the reserve champion for the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Championship, presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN), and Piggy French and Quarrycrest Echo (4th/33.5).
“My guy’s a bit of a Kinder Surprise, you’re never sure what you’re going to have until you get out there,” said Price, 40 of Marlborough, England, of the 13-year-old British Sport Horse owned by Price, Nigella Hall and Trisha Rickards. “He’s a bit spooky, but it’s also kind of simple to work with because you know it’s going to be there. He takes a real special disliking to liverpools and the whole middle of arena was an ocean of water trays, so it felt like something to overcome and hope for best.
“But, he was jumping really well,” Price continued. “He’s keeping his shape now even when he’s looking at a fence, and it actually helped a bit on a day like today. He’s a lovely, big, scopey honest horse, and he will come on from this and be an exciting horse as he gets more established.”
“I was thrilled with my bloke today,” said Martin, 39, of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, of his 12-year-old Trakehner gelding, owned by Christine Turner. “He doesn’t give you the most confidence in warm-up. He was jumping all over the shop and twisting and these other two (Price and Townend) were giggling at me a bit. But he gets in the ring and spooks that little bit and I think he loves the atmosphere and the crowd. He tapped the first fence and I thought, ‘oh, crap this is going to be a long round,’ but then he really tried.”
Martin and Testserleg’s finish as national champion and overall second place has helped remove some of the sting of a disappointing performance for the pair in the World Equestrian Games last fall. “He has been difficult in combinations, he can jump too big into the first part and get in trouble at the second, so I felt like I had to come in slow and short into 4 AB and once he cleared it I thought I was in with a chance. All in all I couldn’t be more happy and satisfied, though it would be great to win one of these. But (we’ve had) a few ups and downs with the horse—last year was a bit disappointing—but this year he’s come out blazing. Our expectation is that he’ll only grow and get better.”
For his victory, Townend takes home a check for $130,000, and a one-year lease on a Land Rover Discovery. After a rather wild drive around the ring in his new car last year, this year he was relegated to a passenger until the paperwork was signed. He also took home a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust watch.
In the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge, the lion’s share of the $20,000 purse went to Team Great Britain/Switzerland (Oliver Townend/Cooley Master Class, Piggy French/Quarrycrest Echo, Felix Vogg/Calero, Leslie Law/Voltaire De Tre’) for finishing first with a score of 98.0. Team USA (Boyd Martin/Tsetserleg, Phillip Dutton/Z, Lauren Keiffer/Vermiculus and Caroline Martin/Islandwood Captain Jack) were second (114.2) and Team Australia/New Zealand (Tim Price/Xavier Faer, Hazel Shannon/Willingapark Clifford, Joe Meyer Johnny Royale and Dominic Schramm/Bolytair B) were third (181.5).
About the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN
Now in its 41st year, the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN (LRK3DE) is a thrilling competition featuring Olympic-level riders and horses from across the nation and around the world in what can best be described as an equestrian triathlon. Riders vie for their share of $400,000 in prize money, as well as a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, which is awarded to any rider who wins the LRK3DE, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton, and Land Rover Burghley Five Star Events in succession. Known as “The Best Weekend All Year,” the event also serves as the Land Rover/USEF CCI-5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN.
Also featured as a part of the competition is the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Cup Team Challenge, with each team vying for $20,000 in prize money. Four teams will line up for their share of the winnings.
LRK3DE also hosts the second annual $225,000 Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute on Saturday afternoon, April 27, after the cross-country portion of the LRK3DE. Stadium seating tickets for the Grand Prix are only $5 each – with $1 going to Land Rover Kentucky’s 2019 Official Charity, Bluegrass Land Conservancy. As part of the competition there is also a $36,000 Welcome Speed Cup Ranking Class on Friday in the Rolex Stadium, after the day’s LRK3DE dressage competition. No stadium seat ticket is required for Friday’s Ranking Class.
All grounds admission tickets to the LRK3DE include general parking and admission to the Kentucky Horse Park and International Trade Fair, but do not include seats for the competition in Rolex Stadium on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Reserved stadium seating is sold separately from grounds admission.
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN will be broadcast on NBC on Sunday, May 5, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT. It will also be broadcast on NBC Sports Network on June 23, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT. USEFNetwork.com will livestream the competition in its entirety – including the two CSI jumping classes – in the U.S. and abroad. Competition will also be archived and available on demand.
Further information on the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN is available at www.KentuckyThreeDayEvent.com.
About Equestrian Events, Inc.
EEI is a non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation that was established initially to produce the 1978 World Three-Day Event Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the success of those championships, EEI established an annual event that evolved into the world-renowned Kentucky Three-Day Event, which draws more than 80,000 spectators to the Kentucky Horse Park each year. In 2018, EEI organized and produced the new Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix and will be managing the 2019 and 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships. All three competitions are held at the Kentucky Horse Park. For more information, please visit www.eq-events.com.
About Land Rover
Founded in 1948, Land Rover designs, engineers, and manufactures its vehicles in the United Kingdom. For almost 70 years the brand has built a reputation for providing its clientele with some of the most luxurious and capable vehicles in the world; whether driving through the heart of the city or traversing the countryside on- and off-road. Today’s Land Rover lineup includes the Discovery and Discovery Sport; Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque. Land Rover is fully engaged with sustainability initiatives and social concerns with continuous involvement in environmental and community programs. For more information, visit the official Land Rover website at www.landroverusa.com.
About Jaguar Land Rover
Jaguar Land Rover is the UK’s largest automotive manufacturer, built around two iconic British car brands: Land Rover, the world’s leading manufacturer of premium all-wheel-drive vehicles; and Jaguar, one of the world’s premier luxury sports sedan and sports car brands.
At Jaguar Land Rover, we are driven by a desire to deliver class-leading vehicles, which will provide experiences our customers will love, for life. Our products are in demand around the globe. In 2017/18 Jaguar Land Rover sold 614,309 vehicles in 129 countries, with more than 80 percent of our vehicles being sold abroad.
We support around 260,000 people through our retailer network, suppliers and local businesses. Manufacturing is centered in the UK, with additional plants in China, Brazil, Austria and Slovakia.
Our innovation is continuous: we will spend in the region of £4 billion this year on new product creation and capital expenditure.
From 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be electrified, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles as well as continuing to offer the latest diesel and gasoline engines.
About MARS EQUESTRIAN
MARS EQUESTRIAN, a brand and sponsorship division within MARS INCORPORATED, is the link between our iconic brands and the equestrian community. For generations, MARS has celebrated a rich equestrian heritage, and through purposeful partnerships, MARS EQUESTRIAN is committed to the sport and building an enduring legacy. From world-class competitions across all equestrian disciplines, to stewarding the power of horses on society and sustainability, MARS EQUESTRIAN is dedicated to our purpose to improve the lives of horses, pets, and the people who love them.
For more information about MARS EQUESTRIAN, please visit www.marsequestrian.com.