Lucinda Fredericks demonstrated her perfect knowledge of her little chestnut mare as she guided her around the Rolex Kentucky cross-country track, taking the long way out over the final bench of the Sunken Road and the long way over the corner in the Head of Lake but finishing right on the time of 11:00 to take over the lead on April 25.
Despite a sunny day at the Kentucky Horse Park, with temperatures in the 80s, Headley Britannia was so full of running at the end that she seemed to make a bid for one of the crowd partitions as Fredericks was pulling her up after the finish line, and Fredericks had to quickly grab a rein to get her turned away from it. She then jumped off and hugged “Brit,” who has already won British four-stars at Badminton and Burghley and is in perfect position to win a third.
“I was making up time [coming into the Head of the Lake],” said Fredericks. “She’d opened up a fair bit, and I saw a nice, open distance to the logs. I’d planned to go on six strides and it turned into four; she kind of took over. I didn’t take a pull from there. We had a fantastic ride over the second half of the course.
“It’s easier riding her to bigger fences,” she added. “She had to really stretch to the double corners. I knew she would as she has a tiny stride even when she gets going. We really did motor. That’s as fast as I have gone.”
Ringwood Cockatoo and Bettina Hoy slipped to second place with 9.6 time penalties. They had a sticky ride at the Squirrels and into the first water. She also got in long to the first of the Double Diamond corners, had to struggle over, but somehow made it out over the second corner with a huge effort. Although it wasn’t the prettiest ride, it kept her in the hunt.
“I never really pushed harder than what I did,” said Hoy. “I went as fast as felt good for him and his age. We had a few scary moments, but it probably looked worse than it felt. He was a little backed off the double corners, and he’s not the most confident horse over drop fences, which there were a lot of. But he was very much on my side. Like an old married couple, we knew exactly what to do in our own time.”
Buck Is Leading U.S. Rider
My Boy Bobby had an absolute class round, making each combination look like gymnastics. He and Buck Davidson left a stride out coming into the Head of the Lake and on the way to the corner but produced a fabulous round in Bobby’s first four-star to hang on to third place with just 1.2 time penalties.
“Both my horses were terrific today,” said Davidson, who also rode as the first starter of the day on Ballynoe Castle RM (standing 19th). “I couldn’t ask for better from either one. My Boy Bobby stuck in there and tried as hard or harder than I thought he would. I’m really proud of him. He was so good through the Lake to keep going on a long stride to the corner. It definitely got hot, but he dug in.”
Davidson, sporting a slender silhouette that he credited to a new diet and workout routine, said Bobby recovered well. Ballynoe Castle RM also looked well, he said, despite being bitten above the hock by a loose dog as he approached the Sunken Road. Davidson said he had his one stop there because “Reggie” switched off in the turn after the dog incident. He asked the ground jury to remove the 20 penalties as a result of the interference, and they determined that the jumping penalties and some of the time penalties would be erased from his score.
“The officials are doing their job,” Davidson said. “We were just in the video trailer looking at it with them, and now they’re talking to fence judges. The horse sort of turned away, switched off, and I had to change my line. No one wants to hurt a dog, even if it’s in the wrong place. It’s an unfortunate situation, and I wish it hadn’t happened, but it did. But the right thing will happen.”
Other double-clear rounds in the afternoon included: Somerset II/Sara Dierks (now in 20th), Opposition Buzz/Nicola Wilson (almost 20 seconds fast and now in 15th), Leyland/Amy Tryon (in 11th), Hidalgo de L’Ile/Nicolas Touzaint (in fifth), and Connaught/Phillip Dutton (ninth). Dutton was the only one of the five riders with two horses to bring both his mounts home inside the time.
Seven riders were eliminated; one retired, and three withdrew before the start, so 38 horses will go forward to tomorrow morning’s horse inspection.
Stanislas de Zuchowicz of France was pitched forward when Quirinal de la Bastide landed into the first water complex and toppled over his shoulder, resulting in elimination.
Barbara Crabo had a stop at the last element of the Sunken Road with Eveready and had two run-outs at the Double Diamonds, for elimination.
Madison Park made an exuberant leap over the first rolltop at the Infield Water, and Kyle Carter couldn’t make the turn to the second rolltop. He’s now 35th.
Debbie Rosen was originally announced as having a runout, since she took the long route at the first water complex with The Alchemyst. But around 5:45, officials announced that her refusal would be removed from score. She’s now in 30th, with 27.2 time penalties.
Tamra Smith had a refusal at the cabin on the way out of the Hollow and another at Normandy Bank drop, then pulled up.
Jennifer Wooten-DaFoe and The Good Witch were eliminated for a fall at the Double Diamonds. The Good Witch was removed from the course in a trailer and taken to the stables, where Dr. Catherine Kohn said she is resting comfortably and still being evaluated.
Tara Ziegler and Buckingham Place drifted right and missed the final element of the Sunken Road, then had a refusal at the first of the Hong Kong brushes and are 38th.
The Ghost Of Hamish ran out at the Squirrels with Peter Thomsen of Germany to drop to 28th.
Mike Winter did not start with Wonderful Will. Results of a necropsy on his first mount, Kingpin, who died at fence 10, have not been released, but veterinary delegate Dr. Catherine Kohn said the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse had bleeding in his abdomen, possibly consistent with the rupture of a large blood vessel.
“He most likely died as a result of natural causes and not as a result of the fence,” she said.
“We are so sorry for Mike,” said Fredericks. “Our thoughts are with him. There’s nothing like losing your horse and best friend, and I’d like to say on behalf of the riders just how sorry we are.”
The top 10 after cross-country are:
1) Headley Britannia/Lucinda Fredericks/AUS, 32.2
2) Ringwood Cockatoo/Bettina Hoy/GER, 38.4
3) My Boy Bobby/Buck Davidson/USA, 40.2
4) Concrex Oncarlos/Tim Lips/NED, 42.0
5) Hidalgo de L’Ile/Nicolas Touzaint/FRA, 44.3
6) Woodfalls Inigo Jones/Lucy Wiegersma/GBR, 44.4
7) Carousel Quest/Oliver Townend/GBR, 45.2
8) Seacookie/William Fox-Pitt/GBR, 45.9
9) Connaught/Phillip Dutton/USA, 47.0
10) Brandenburg’s Joshua/Stephen Bradley/USA, 48.6
For a discussion of the morning’s action, go to http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/forumdisplay.php?f=68