April 30—Lexington, Ky.
Kings Temptress, ridden by Mary King, will head into show jumping at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** without a rail in hand ahead of the second-placed horse. Fortunately for King, she’ll also be sitting on that one—she’s currently first and second aboard Kings Temptress and Fernhill Urco, respectively.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” said King of Great Britain. “These are two very different horses—one is very experienced and one is not at all at this level. I never would have dreamed I’d be in this position when I left England. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment, and tomorrow’s another day.”
King started cross-country in second with Fernhill Urco on 41.7 penalties. The 10-year-old dark gray Portuguese Sporthorse (Corrado—Fly, Orli) gelding picked up 8 time penalties around the course, while King’s first ride of the day, Kings Temptress, jumped around with one of only three double-clear rounds. After dressage leaders Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister were eliminated because of a fall at fence 24AB, Kings Temptress moved into the top spot on 47.7 penalties.
“[Kings Temptress] was pretty fluid all the way around. It was amazing,” King said. “I was going around thinking how fantastic the ground felt knowing how much it rained this week. With the mare, it was a sort of fault-free round. It felt lovely, and it was quite easy with the time.
“[Fernhill Urco] came to the first water, and it was a bit of a shock for him, and he went a little green,” King continued. “We sort of left our hind legs on the log, and then he really improved. It was a fantastic course for educating the horse. He just improved and improved as he went around. I had in my mind I’d be pulling up if he felt too tired, but he kept lugging around towards the end.”
Not A Dressage Show
After a day of serious shifting in the leaderboard, Australian Clayton Fredericks and Be My Guest moved from 10th to third after picking up 2.4 time penalties. Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville are currently the highest-placed pair from the United States, and they sit fourth on 53.1. Hannah Sue Burnett and St. Barths put in the second double-clear round of the day for fifth. The only other double-clear cross-country round moved Jessica Phoenix and Exponential from 30th to eighth. Check out a round-by-round wrap-up of all of today’s cross-country rides.
It was the first four-star for both Halpin, Gladstone, N.J., and Manoir de Carneville.
“I just wanted him to go clean and go well and hopefully that would put him up in the leaderboard,” Halpin said. “He’s a super horse. I was really well-prepped because I was fortunate to go to Boekelo CCI*** [the Netherlands last fall]. I’d already ridden him on heavy ground, so I wasn’t so concerned about the footing. I knew he coped with it over there. I knew how he would deal with a lot of crowds, so I was not as worried about that. It was a long track over there.”
Course designer Derek di Grazia was pleased with the results of the day and with the vast improvement of the ground conditions after Lexington saw record levels of rain through April.
“Let me first say, I’m so glad we’re here today doing what we’re doing,” said di Grazia. “I went around the course when I got here on Sunday, and I got to the coffin, and I couldn’t see the ditch. The sunken road had water in it, the water jump had 2 feet of water, and I thought to myself, ‘How are we going to pull this off?’ I got here Wednesday morning, and I thought, ‘OK, this looks doable. Then we had this storm Wednesday night and I thought, ‘We’re done.’ I went out Thursday morning, and I wanted to cry. I knew we had Thursday and Friday to dry, and it was amazing how this ground drains here. With all the work everyone did, I thought the going was pretty amazing today for how it was earlier in the week.
“The results, as the riders said earlier, the problems were spread throughout the course,” he added. “There was no one fence that caused huge amounts of problem. It was spread around. That’s fine to me.”
Thirty horses will jog tomorrow morning. King admitted King’s Temptress, an 11-year-old homebred mare (Primitive Rising—Kings Mistress), hasn’t always been the best show jumper.
“She used to struggle quite a bit with the show jumping phase,” King said. “Her natural technique over fences is quite poor. She tries, but it’s more through lack of technique. But she will try really hard. I rode her at Burghley [Great Britain], and she just had one rail down, but she had two or three in the past. I don’t really know how it’ll go. We will see.”