Saturday, May. 25, 2024

As It Happens: Rolex Kentucky Dressage Day 2

We're back with the second day of dressage here at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****! About half of the 75-horse field goes today, with Lillian Heard on Share Option kicking things off at 9:30 am local time. Can anyone steal the lead from Germany's Michael Jung? Will it be Michael on his second ride, La Biosthetique Sam, or perhaps last year's winners William Fox-Pitt on Bay My Hero?


April 24 – Lexington, Ky.

We’re back with the second day of dressage here at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****! About half of the 75-horse field goes today, with Lillian Heard on Share Option kicking things off at 9:30 am local time. Can anyone steal the lead from Germany’s Michael Jung? Will it be Michael on his second ride, La Biosthetique Sam, or perhaps last year’s winners William Fox-Pitt on Bay My Hero? 

We’ll be updating this page throughout the day with commentary on the rides, photos and quotes from the competitors, so refresh early and often. Click here for live scores and ride times. Want to read about yesterday’s dressage or see all the Chronicle’s coverage from this year’s Rolex


The Top Five:

Michael Jung on La Biosthetique Sam: 36.3

Tim Price on Wesko: 36.3

William Fox-Pitt on Bay My Hero: 38.5

Michael Jung on Fischerrocana FST: 39.3

Colleen Rutledge on Covert Rights: 42.3

We’re waiting for the press conference now, and then we’ll have some information from the riders up for you later! Check back on the website in a few hours. 

How did Lauren Kieffer feel about her test?

“She was good; I was really pleased with her,” she said. “She was a little more up than last year, but I think I’ll like that tomorrow because it’s certainly a tougher fitness course I believe than last year. She’s such a workman, and she’s a competitor, so even when she’s a bit up she does really well.” 

Boyd Martin and Master Frisky

Our last pair for the dressage here! How cool is Boyd’s helmet matching the piping on his tailcoat? This is Master Frisky’s first four-star.

With the very professional Boyd riding, this is going to be a very polished test, and the trot certainly is. This is a green horse at the level, but Boyd looks happy with his final score of 46.3 and 12th place.

Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice

This is Phillip’s third ride at this event. “Happy” is a really cool horse, with an adorable face and big gaits. He’s got some awesome floppy ears going at the extended walk. The changes on this horse are very good, especially the last three are really clean and expressive. 

Happy gets a score of 46.7 and into 12th. 

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM

Everyone loves “Reggie!” He’s been around a lot of blocks with Buck, and Buck adores just him. They’re besties.

The haunches trail a bit in the first half-pass, but the extended trots are very nice. Excellent and swinging in the walk. Changes are clean, with the exception of one that’s late behind; this is just a steady and correct test from this pair. They finish on a 47.7 and that’s 14th now. 

SIDENOTE: Make sure to stop by the Chronicle booth here at Rolex and get your picture taken jumping into the Head Of The Lake with Reggie

Funny quote from Marilyn Little about RF Demeter:

“She’s a bit of an anorexic and a nervous nelly,” she said. “So she’s probably 100 pounds heavier than she used to be, and it’s not that she has any fat on her; it’s all muscle. I didn’t remember her being pretty! She used to look like a whippet. We call her the Goldfish. She’s from the Netherlands so when she’s galloping by at an event there they yell, ‘Goldfish!’ and she is! She’s a magnificent goldfish.”

James Alliston and Tivoli

You don’t really want to have to follow Michael Jung, but James Alliston is doing a good job of it with the fancy Tivoli! This is another horse in a double bridle, and he can get a little low in front at times. But pulling plenty of 7s here. The walk’s tense with some jigging, but a good halt and reinback after that. 

Canter’s nice, again getting low in poll for moments, but James is managing this test nicely. 

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam

The moment many have been waiting for… Michael of course needs no introduction. The last time “Sam” was here, he won 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games gold, and Michael said he has happy memories of that trip. 

They lead off with a square halt and powerful trot extension. Michael is perfectly accurate and precise in every movement. Getting 7s and 8s and then more 8s so far. 

Whew, once he drops to walk, the horse just instantly relaxes and reaches and stretches. It’s remarkable.

One step of trot before the walk-canter transition, so they’re not perfect, I guess. But pretty darn close! The changes really couldn’t be better. Michael’s aided by his background in Grand Prix dressage and show jumping as well. Michael tips his hat at the crowd on his way out. 

Big score, and he’s tied with Tim Price and Wesko! They’re both on 36.3.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night

In case you’ve lost count, this is our fourth “Fernhill” horse for this event, and this is the first four-star for Liz and “Blackie.” This horse tends to do very good flatwork, though he’s getting a head tilt at times in the lateral work and circles at the trot. Lovely and square halt before the canter off. Drop noseband on this horse; you don’t see those too often these days. Are they making a comeback? 

This gelding doesn’t seem upset by the atmosphere at all today. It’s quite loud in there now that the stands are filled! 

Clean changes for the last two, and they’re halted and out of there. Score of 48.4 and that’ll put her 14th. 

William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero

Aaaand here’s your winner from last year! “Moonie” was very excited at the jog on Wednesday. William seemed amused by it. 

They have a perfect entry, so straight and into a square halt. There’s just nothing wrong with this picture at all, he’s getting 8s and 7.5s pretty much straight across. Again 8s for the shoulder-in left. Sitting on nearly 75 percent into the walk. Very nice extended walk and another square halt. 

A small bobble after the extended canter with a late-behind change, but everything else about this is looking nice. The next changes are clean and jumping through. And yet another square halt. Can WFP halt anything but straight? (Don’t think so.)

That’s a score of 38.4, and William will be second to Tim Price for now!

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica

Lauren and Veronica were second here last year, the highest-placed U.S. pair. Lauren’s back here in good form, and there’s not much to find fault with in the trot. Nice flopping ears. She gets one 9 on an extended trot! They’re on 75 percent as they start the walk, which is also quite nice and relaxed until they have a little jig towards the end of it.

The canter is also quite polished, though they have a late change at the end of the extended canter. The next change is good, but some tension creeps in towards the end of the canter. Score of 44.2 for them. That’s fifth now. 

Jennie Brannigan’s comments on her test:

“He’s a good, consistent horse, and he doesn’t have the biggest trot so I just tried to have an accurate test, and he was pretty well behaved in there,” she said. “It’s a lot on a Friday afternoon, of course. He’s been in a few big rings and I think this is the busiest I’ve been in. Even international rings in Europe aren’t quite as overwhelming as this on a Friday afternoon.” 

Werner Geven and Vilas County

Werner hasn’t ridden at this event since 2007, so it’s cool he has two here this year. This horse is in a double bridle, which we haven’t really seen too many of this year so far. The canter work is improved over the trot, with some nice changes and a very balanced counter-canter. They earn a score of ??

We’re on the last break of the day! It’s a short one, and we start back with heavy hitters Lauren Kieffer and Veronica at 3:30.

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti

Word on the street is that Jessie might just be here to do the dressage with “Rotti” this year. Amazingly, Jessie just had a baby six weeks ago! She’s also here with A Fine Romance, who is a dainty mare that looks like the polar opposite of this horse.  

Fancy trotter alert for this horse! The canter’s equally as nice too. He loses it a little bit in the changes, coming above the bit, but then Jessie gets him right back. This is a very nice test for them, and Jessie’s clearly stoked on it. Team Canada should be excited! They earn 44.6 penalties and now THEY’RE in sixth place, tied with Marilyn and Demi. 

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter

Marilyn, our resident show jumper-turned-eventer, has become a really amazing dressage rider, as well as obviously being a top rider over fences. This is her experienced four-star partner RF Demeter or “Demi.” 

She’s laying down some really nice and accurate movements in the trot, and the extended walk is just stunning. Like a panther! (That’s a good thing.) 

The canter is just as polished as the trot, and the changes are clean and jumping. The last halt is just bang on, and Marilyn seems happy with that. It’s a score of 44.6 penalties and into sixth for her.

Fun photo break! Tim Price signed hats for some young fans after his ride this morning.

Tim Price signs

Nicola Wilson and Annie Clover

OK, here’s another Brit, Nicola Wilson, on her second horse Annie Clover. This is the one she had at least year’s WEG in France, so we’re expecting a nice test here. Fashion tidbit: another top hat!


They start off with a break to canter in first extended trot, but Nicola’s putting the polish back on for the lateral work. Lovely transition into canter and good first flying change. Nicola gets some nice mare faces in the later changes but still some excellent scores for them. 

Very nice halt at the end! That’ll get them a score of 45.6 penalties and into sixth place.

Gina Miles and SVR Ron

Poor Gina Miles had a bit of a rough lead-up to this event

This is SVR Ron’s first four-star, but it’s of course not Gina’s. She won individual Olympic Games gold in 2008. 

She’s working hard to get some good flatwork out of SVR Ron here, and he’s looking a little tense and strong. 

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda

Poor Jennie has not had a good run of Rolexes leading up to this, but everyone has their fingers crossed for her this weekend! “Ping,” who’s won the Fair Hill CCI*** and Galway Downs CCI***, is capable of getting a top score here. Fun fact: Jennie recently became a race rider. 

Ping loses the angle in the shoulder-ins for some brief seconds, but the half-passes are nice. His canter is lovely, big and reaching in the extended. Clean first change but Ping makes a sassy face about it. The second change is really good, steps up and through beautifully. She finishes with a grin and a wave. Jennie’s happy! That should put her into the top 10 for now. 

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights

Colleen’s a very experienced four-star rider, well-known for her mount Shiraz, but this event is Cover Rights’ first time at a four-star. 

Covert Rights is a fancy trotter. Fashion tidbit: he’s in a brown bridle. She’s on 76 percent as they start the walk work! The walk is relaxed and with a nice overstep. 

The canter isn’t getting quite the marks of the trot, but he’s still earning plenty of 7s and some 8s. BIG first change that’s a little late behind, and that got them some 5s. The next changes are better. And they finish with a smile! Colleen is looking soooo happy, understandably! That’s a super score for them, a 42.2 that’ll have them third now. 

William Levett and Improvise

We’re back after the break! Things are getting really exciting now that we’re in the second-to-last group. Bill’s here from England, but he’s representing Australia. Another top hat! 

Uh oh, a little canter off in the first extended trot. This horse has a really flashy trot, and we’re now getting to see it as they do their circles and shoulder-in and half-passes. 

Some moments of resistance in the canter, but it’s another really nice gait. A couple of perfect, clean changes, and they’re trending up near 67 percent here towards the end. They slot into seventh with that lovely test. 

John Michael Durr’s comments on his test:

“I was thrilled,” he said. “She’s had a lot of tension in the ring before, and we just had one of our top three scores at Rolex, so I have no complaints!

“She’s not ‘mareish’ in the traditional sense,” he added. “She hasn’t bitten anybody all day! No, she’s actually not like that at all. She’s just particular. She knows what she likes and doesn’t like.” 

Kevin Keane and Fernhill Flutter

Everyone knows Kevin since he’s also a sport horse veterinarian. He was here last year with his Fernhill Flutter. 

He has a longtime partnership with this horse and rides him beautifully. Extremely accurate in the circles and shoulder-in. They’re sitting on 65 percent after the trot, and the canter is bringing that up so far. 

This horse is kind of cute and cranky in the changes. Very active behind and jumping! Square halt at the end, and the horse is immobile. Kevin looks pleased, tipping his top hat and smiling. Now we’re on a short break again. 

Fun photo break! Elisa Wallace is not only riding this weekend, but she’s also doing demonstrations with her mustangs.



Will Faudree and Andromaque

Andromaque, or “Missy” takes a peak at the crowd during her halt. She knows she’s special and everyone should watch her. 

This is an experienced pair, and the mare is a lovely galloper and cross-country horse. But she’s a good dressage horse, and she’s putting in a nice test too. 

Fun fact: Will is wearing dressage Olympian Steffen Peters’ old GPA tailcoat. Peters gave it to him after Will said he liked it once. 

Walk is a bit hurried, but the canter is a highlight for this horse. She sneaks in the change a bit early after the extended canter, but the counter-canter is balanced and fluid. She’s getting excited by the last two changes. 

Kate Chadderton and Collection Pass

Kate, an Australian native who’s now based in the U.S., is up next. Not their strongest test, and they finish on a score of 67.5 penalties.

Lynn Symansky and Donner

Next in is Lynn and her deer Donner. Lynn’s done some excellent blogging for the Chronicle. The pair represented the United States at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France. Donner wasy very excited at the jog on Wednesday!

Donner seems relaxed going around the outside of the ring. This is an amazing cross-country horse and jumper, and Lynn’s worked hard on his dressage too. You can see it today! The trot work is smooth, and Lynn really goes for it in the extended trot. The half-passes show good crossing over and activity. 

The first few changes are late behind, and that brought her score down some, but she’s getting better canter work here now. She gets an 8 with some 7s for another change. 

They finish on 52.7. Donner’s excited walking out! He knows what’s coming tomorrow…

John Michael Durr and Esprit de la Danse

John Michael is another West Coast rider who’s traveled a fair distance for this event! This the horse’s first four-star. She’s a lovely black horse. 

The trot work is accurate, though the horse is a little busy in the mouth and gets behind the vertical at times. They’re still picking up some 7s for some of this nice trot work. Some trotting off in the walk work. Some nice stuff in the canter, and that gait brought their scores up a bit. 

UPDATE on High Kingdom

We just heard that High Kingdom cut himself earlier today, and when Zara got him down to the warm-up she realized it was more significant than she first thought. He’s gone back to the barn for some stitches. We’ll update further as we hear more. 

Allie Knowles and Sound Prospect

After Zara’s unfortunate withdrawal, Allie is first after the lunch break. Her trot work starts out very nicely, and she’s on 68 percent at the end of that section of the test. 

This horse is looking very relaxed in the ring and very supple in the trot and canter. Some of the changes are late behind, but they’re still fluid and happening without any fuss. The extended canter is bold. They finish on about a 65 percent, and we’ll have the penalties here soon. She looks very happy with her horse!

Allie slotted into a tie for 12th on 51.7 penalties.

Zara Phillips and High Kingdom

We’ve just heard that Zara Phillips withdrew High Kingdom from the warm-up. She’s standing in in the warm-up next to her horse. We’re trying to figure out what’s happened, and we’ll update you. 

What does it feel like to have a super fancy and cute horse who’s winning the dressage at Rolex Kentucky? You’d have to ask Tim Price.


Tim Price wesko


What does it feel like to finish your first Rolex Kentucky test? It feels like this…



(Amanda Wilson and Cool Decision after their test)

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm

This pair completed their first Rolex last year. Rachel is riding for Canada. This little guy can certainly jump, but he’s steadily working his way through his test, albeit a bit stiff in the trot work. They weren’t quite immobile in their halt to rein-back. He still seems stiff in the connection in the canter.

They score a 60.3.

Amanda Wilson and Cool Decision


Amanda is making her Rolex debut. She’s been partnered with his horse for his whole career. Cool Decision is wearing a Micklem bridle. He has a lovely extended trot. He seems a bit strong in the canter and has a little buck in his last two changes, but Amanda seems really happy with her test and even sheds a few tears on the way out.

They score a 67.2.

Katie Ruppel and Houdini

Katie Ruppel brings her lovely chestnut in the ring next. Katie’s ridden around Rolex with Sir Donovan and completed last year with Houdini. They start out strong with a perfectly square halt. Houdini has a lovely extended trot. He has a bit of resistance coming out of the rein-back but his canter work and changes are quite good. Katie seems thrilled.

They score a 49.8 for seventh place!

Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek

Next up, young rider Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek. The late Amy Tryon rode this striking black gelding at the upper levels. Lizzie is making her Rolex debut. Coal Creek has a lovely extended trot. Lizzie seems to be keeping her cool, showing maturity beyond her years. The have an awesome square halt and a decent rein-back to canter. Coal Creek looks very relaxed in his work. 

They score a 61.5.

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato

Jordan completed her first Rolex a couple of years ago with Tullibard’s Hawkwind and now brings this tall drink of water, “Capato”. They’re from the West Coast, but came east a little early to ride at The Fork (N.C.). He has a little spook at A after the extended trot, but has a gorgeous presence. Their canter work is very strong but their score will drop a bit with their last two changes. Jordan looks relieved to be done, but very happy. Jordan’s mom, Barbara, has her nails painted in her cross-country colors of blue and white. Jordan has a huge group of 50 supporters from Seattle here to watch her.

They score a 51.7.

Here’s Jordan’s thoughts on her test.

“I could not be happier. We’ve struggled for as long as I’ve had him in the dressage ring. He’s so capable, but he gets spooky and tense and a little bit tough in there, and I think that was one of the best tests I’ve had on him, so he picked a good place to calm down! Sometimes I feel like he actually likes some of the bigger atmospheres – it’s only really at some of the smaller, local shows that aren’t as done up. He kind of put on a show, so I was really happy with him.”


Holly Payne and Never Outfoxed

Holly brings her off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding to his first Rolex. He’s another that doesn’t love the dressage, but Holly is riding him very tactfully in the trot work. Her mom, Marilyn, has judged at Rolex before and she’s watching from the sidelines, as well as Holly’s brother, Doug, who’s also ridden here before.

Never Outfoxed is a big tight in his topline and not quite steady in the contact, but Holly is carrying her hands in an effort to ride him into the contact. His medium walk got a bit hurried, as well as the rein-back. Holly is riding a bit conservative in her canterwork. The changes are a bit tight as well. They finish with a perfect halt and a pat.

They score a 63.6.

Dana Widstrand and Relentless Pursuit

Dana Widstrand brings Relentless Pursuit, the oldest horse in the competition at age 19, and on off-the-track Thoroughbred. They didn’t complete last year, so I’m sure Dana is excited to get on to tomorrow. The gelding has a really nice extended trot and seems to be very workmanlike. They sadly missed their second change and had to pick up the correct lead. The next change was also a bit rough. It’s tough to hold it together when things go wrong, but Dana is doing a great job.

They score a 58.1.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate

Next up, Meghan and Pirate, another off-the-track Thoroughbred. This pair have been around Rolex twice before, but dressage is not Pirate’s favorite phase. He has a break in the extended trot and looks quite tight. Once in canter, Pirate seems to be settling a bit. His first change is nice and clean and his counter canter serpentine looks good. His second change is clean, as are the third and fourth, so they’ll earn some points there.

They score a 54.2.

Tim Price and Wesko

Tim Price comes to Rolex with his 2014 Luhmuhlen CCI**** winner Wesko, a Dutch Warmblood. They’re representing New Zealand. Tim’s another to choose a top hat and it’s quite tall! They make a lovely picture. Wesko has a gorgeous trot and Tim is a very accurate rider. There’s not much wrong with this test. Tim really goes for it in the extended canter circle and shows a clear difference coming back. His changes, while maybe lacking a bit of animation, are clean, uphill and beautiful. It all just looks so easy.

They score a 36.3 to take the lead!

Anna Collier and Gleaming Road

Based on the West Coast, Anna is making her return to the Kentucky Horse Park. She last competed here in 2004 with Leopold. This is another chestnut with lots of chrome. Gleaming Road seems to hold a bit of tension in his jaw and Anna’s working hard to keep his body relaxed. The canter work is a bit tight but their flying changes are clean. Anna seems happy with her boy. Tim finishes with a big smile.

They score a 66.0.

Mackenna Shea and Landioso

The stands are starting to fill in this moring as more people arrive to watch some of the heavy hitters today.

Mackenna is another Rolex rookie from the West Coast and she’s only 22! Landioso is almost always near the top of dressage so fingers crossed!

Landioso has a lovely, swinging trot and seems very focused. She’s scoring well in the trot work. His counter canter serpentines are quite balanced and his changes are nice and clean. Mackenna didn’t really go for it on the first half of her extended canter circle, but it got better. She gets a huge cheer and looks thrilled!

They score a 44.0! That goes into second place.

Here’s what Mackenna thought of her test.

“I really just wanted to do a good test. I just wanted to keep riding. I didn’t want to get in there and freeze up. I was focusing on riding the movements and not pulling on the reins.

I just try not to think of [Rolex] as any different than any other show. I was getting nervous in the ring and I was thinking back to Bromont. That was the biggest atmosphere we’d ever been in before this and he was really good there. So I just tried to relax and trust him and know that he’s a very calm and collected horse and he isn’t fazed by a lot. I just tried to trust him going in and do my best”


Erin Sylvester and No Boundaries

Erin and “Bucky” have completed Rolex twice and Burghley once. Bucky is a bit tense and it’s showing in the extended walk as he’s jigging. The rein-back sequence is really showing that tension unfortunately. His first change was a bit late behind. He’s settling a bit in the canter, but still had a double pump behind in the second change. His final change is quite messy but he finishes with a square halt. Erin looks disappointed.

USEF Commentator’s John Kyle and Karen O’Connor say that the Four Star Test A is relentless. There’s basically no let up with the movements, which can be good for horses who need something to do in the ring, but can be tough for horses that get tense too.

They score a 79.3.

Maya Black and Doesn’t Play Fair

Maya and “Cody” are Rolex rookies. Maya is originally from Washington and developed Cody on the West Coast, but she’s recently relocated to the east to move up to advanced. They had a fabulous debut season last year with a win in the Plantation Field CIC*** (Pa.) and come to Rolex brimming with confidence. Cody is quite small and Maya quite tall, but she sits in nice balance on him.

Cody has a bit of tension coming off the first centerline that shows in some fusiness up front. His trot has so much suspension though! Cody looks more settled as the test progresses. The halt and rein-back was a bit rough with Cody leaning back and dragging his hind end a bit instead of showing clear steps back. But they show a nice extended canter and first flying change. She got two 8s for the extended canter. Maya tends to be a very quiet rider who doesn’t tend to show her emotions, but she’s got to be happy with that test.

They score a 52.3 to go into the top 10 at the moment!

Lillian Heard and Share Option

Lillian and “Whitey” completed Rolex last year and haven’t competed in an FEI event since then, but they’ve had good placings at national horse trials this season in preparation. Lillian is scoring well to start off, with lots of 7s and 8s in the trot work. Whitey sports lots of chrome and nice, soft floppy ears. His extended walk was very quiet but almost lateral. A perfect halt and a quiet rein-back and canter off for them. They got an 8 from one judge on that halt! A bit of a late first change and a conservative extended canter, but a nice extended canter circle and second flying change. And to finish, a lovely halt. Lillian seems very pleased with Whitey.

They score a 51.6.

What does Lillian think of her test?

“I kept thinking, ‘Ride the back, ride the back, ride the back.'” 

“Welcome to my life!” said her coach, Canadian dressage rider Jacquie Brooks, who was thrilled with the test.


8:30 am: Just to start things off right…here’s a cute picture of Michael Jung’s Fischerrocana with her groom, Julia Harsch. “Rocana” is of course leading after yesterday’s rides. 


Julia and Fischer

The top three from yesterday: 

1. Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST (39.3)

2. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch (44.2)

3. Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive (47.3)



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