The first few riders of the day gave notice that two-digit scores would be the norm over Richard Jeffery’s show jumping track at Rolex Kentucky, April 27. With only two clear rounds—posted by Phillip Dutton on Connaught and Stephen Bradley on Brandenburg’s Joshua—the standings shuffled dramatically.
Dutton’s beautiful clear round on Bruce Duchossois’ Connaught gave him the win when Becky Holder and Courageous Comet dropped just two rails, at fence 5, the Rolex oxer, and fence 6A, the first element of the triple combination. Holder held on to second place, ahead of Missy Ransehousen, who finished third aboard Critical Decision. Brandenburg’s Joshua was fourth, and Kim Severson was fifth with Tipperary Liadhnan. Crowd favorite Theodore O’Connor finished sixth for Karen O’Connor, moving up in the standings despite having the final two rails—on fence 12C and 13.
From, who had been in third place with Stephen Bradley, had five rails and finished eighth.
“My horse never wants to hit a rail,” said Dutton. “He just tries too hard and can be difficult sometimes to adjust before the jumps. I’ve been slow on him this spring, and [at the end of the course] I galloped to the finish like a Pony Club kid, looking at the clock.”
He said that switching from his ride on Woodburn, who spooked at the crowd and lowered two fences, and is a very different ride from Connaught, so he had to adjust his riding style a bit. But, in the warm-up, when he “came to an oxer and ballooned 2 feet over it” he knew he was in good shape.
“I just tried to give him time at each jump and come forward so he could get high enough,” he said.
Holder said she wasn’t surprised to enter the ring without a rail in hand, and her performance left her with her career best four-star finish. “I expected a clean round out of Phillip—Connaught is a lovely horse,” she said. “He jumps not just clear rounds but beautifully clear rounds, and I prepared myself for that pressure. I was able to keep my concentration and focus.”
Cayla Kitayama was within sight of completing her first four-star when she turned after the triple combination at fence 6 and re-jumped fence 1, eliminating Esker Riada.
Kitayama trains with Dutton, who said he was thrilled with the way she rode on Saturday. “I told her yesterday I couldn’t be more proud of the way she rode—very sensible and not worried about the clock,” he said. “We’ve all done what she did, and she’ll have another day. She’s a strong girl, and she’ll be back.”
Mr. Big slammed on the brakes at the liverpool, but Julia Steinberg came around again, and he went right over, but the incident left them with 26 jumping penalties.
Boyd Martin of Australia received the Carimati Cup for finishing as the top foreign rider. Stephen Bradley took home the Bank One Perpetual Trophy as the top owner-rider, of Brandenburg’s Joshua. The Best Conditioned Horse Trophy became Lynn Symansky’s, for No It Tissant, and Symansky’s groom received the groom’s award. Allison Springer and Arthur were deemed the best turned out, for the Zeppa International Trophy.