Dressage for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover was split over two days for the 60 competitors who were competing. After the first day Michael Pollard led the way with Mensa G on a score of 49.5.
Not far behind Michael was Olympic veteran Will Faudree aboard Pawlow (49.8) followed in third by Doug Payne and Crown Talisman scoring 51.2.
In the press conference that followed Michael commented, “I just wanted to have a great start and I managed that today. At least it is a competitive start.”
About Mensa he remarked, “I am riding a very good horse and I feel good about the preparation. I’m happy to be in the lead.”
While riding his dressage test Michael focused on accuracy. “He is a horse that can do a very good test. I was thinking more about executing a test that was the best he can do. I thought honestly someone would sneak in front of me today but I am not really surprised they didn't.”
Then Michael’s focused turned to the cross-country course which all the riders agreed will be a tough course. “The jumps always look big. I have yet to jump a four-star where it looked easy,” he concluded.
For Doug Payne his good dressage score would be where this competition would end for his horse, which was a change in plans for him. Doug recently received a grant to compete in Saumur France in the not too distant future at another four-star and so he wanted to ensure his horse is fit and ready for that event, but pleased that they were leaving Rolex with a good dressage score.
“I wanted to make the most of it and put as much pressure on myself as possible,” commented Doug. “It’s a lot easier to comment on the course when you are not going to ride it.”
Then Doug talked about course designer Derek DiGrazia noting, “Derek is a smart and clever designer. If you jump into the first element with the right balance it works out. If you have an error you are going to have a hell of a time to get out but I don’t think it penalizes the courses. I think it suits my horses really well so I am looking forward to the future.” But for now Doug is focusing on getting his horse in the best condition possible in preparation for his international debut.
Will Faudree has been showing his talent quite a bit lately and Rolex appears to be just another feather in his cap. “Pawlow is a very experienced horse. He’s been at this level for a while,” commented Will who felt he could have had a better score had he not broken into the canter at one point during the test. Because of that he opted to post the trot to reinforce that he needed to Pawlow that he needed to stay at the trot until signaled to canter.
“All and all he stayed very rideable throughout the test,” he continued, but it did require Will to work harder than when the seats are filled and the atmosphere is more electric. “The more atmosphere the less I have to kick and the more I can show off what he is good at,”
Will's thoughts then turned to the tough course that lay ahead noting, “What’s scary about this track is that it is so beautifully presented. When you get to the combinations they look inviting.”
Yet the fact is that every part of this course requires a strong ride. A walk later in the day with Derek reinforced that accuracy and knowing your lines was critical if you wanted to take the most direct route through the 27 jumps with 45 jumping efforts.
That day comes on Saturday. Until then the competition continues with the second half of the dressage dictating the final leader going into the cross-country.
For more details and results about this event visit the web site at www.rk3de.com.