Eventing’s reigning dressage specialist, Bettina Hoy of Germany, lived up to her reputation, taking a commanding lead as the first rider to enter the arena after the lunch break. She and Ringwood Cockatoo collected a solid stream of 9s from all three judges, scoring nothing lower than a 7 for one flying change to post a 28.8.
Just four rides later, Lucinda Fredericks of Australia came closest to Hoy, with a 32.3 for a completely obedient and accurate test, with scores of 9 for her counter canter and flying changes.
While Hoy and Fredericks have never ridden at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, their names may be familiar to local fans, as both of their husbands have won here—Andrew Hoy in 2006 and Clayton Fredericks in 2007.
Buck Davidson proved best of the U.S. riders, in third place after dressage with My Boy Bobby on a score of 39.0. His highlights—which collected 9s—included his first halt, his collected and extended canters and his final halt. He also earned a 9 from Marilyn Payne for rider position on the collective marks.
Bettina said this felt like the best test Cockatoo, her 18-year-old partner, has ever done. “We know what to do and how to go about things to excel in the test,” she said. “He’s a cool customer, and he’s not affected by the atmosphere.”
Lucinda thoroughly enjoyed the ride on her little chestnut mare, Headley Britannia. “She’s a bit of a different horse to most on the event circuit, and she works hard to produce exhilarating work,” she said. She’s schooled “Brit” all over the Kentucky Horse Park to keep her interested and fresh for today’s performance. “Brit and I are like two old women, and we just go in and have a bit of fun,” she said. “She’s professional, and I trust her to behave.”
Davidson credited Bettina with helping him improve his dressage when he worked with her while training in England as one of the Olympic alternates last summer. “It’s an honor to sit up here with these two greats, and I hope to give them a run for their money,” he said.
The final horse of the day, Jos Aquiles, ridden by Jose Ortelli Jr. of Argentina, was excused from the test by ground jury president David Lee. Jos Aquiles appeared to be uneven, and after a few words between Ortelli and Lee, they left the arena.
Given her horse’s age, Bettina isn’t making any promises about pushing for the time on tomorrow’s cross-country course. “Cockatoo doesn’t owe me anything,” she said. “I owe him, and I want him to enjoy himself. Every competition he does is a bonus. If at any point I feel like he’s had enough, I would stop,” she said.
But Davidson plans to use Mike Etherington-Smith’s track to find out if My Boy Bobby, who won the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.) earlier this month, is a four-star horse. “We’ll see,” he said. “He’s as good a jumper as there is, and he’s fit and looks well. I hope it’s not hot, because he’s not a Thoroughbred. I’m not going to sit here and guarantee that we’re going to get the time, but I’d like to think we could come close.”
Having ridden at Rolex many times, Davidson believes this new track, running in a different direction, is slightly less hilly. “It seems to go more across the hills than in the past,” he said.
Lucinda said she’s looking forward to riding tomorrow. “The ground is fantastic, and the fences are fair. I think it’s going to be pretty quick tomorrow,” she said. “It’s a very good course—fair, big enough, especially at the end. The quarry is a true Badminton quarry. The last seven or eight fences are all true four-star material, and it’s going to take some jumping.”
The action starts tomorrow at 10 a.m. and wraps up at 4 p.m, and the forecast is for wind and a few clouds, with temperatures in the low 80s.
The top 10 after dressage are:
1) Ringwood Cockatoo/Bettina Hoy/GER, 28.8
2) Headley Britannia/Lucinda Fredericks/AUS, 32.3
3) My Boy Bobby/Buck Davidson/USA, 39.0
4) Concrex Oncarlos/Tim Lips/NED, 42.0
5) Woodfalls Inigo Jones/Lucy Wiergersma/GBR, 43.2
6) Seacookie/William Fox-Pitt/GBR, 43.5
7) Hidalgo de L’Ile/Nicolas Touzaint/FRA, 44.3
8) Carousel Quest/Oliver Townend/GBR, 45.2
9) Navigator/William Fox-Pitt/GBR, 46.7
10) Connaught/Phillip Dutton/USA, 47.0
For full results, click here…