Lexington, Ky.—April 26
When it comes to the first horse inspection at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L, there are usually two distinct groups of riders: those who plan, and those who wait until the last minute to decide what to wear. Regardless of which group the riders fall into, one thing’s for certain: They’re some of the best-dressed equestrians out there.
And their horses put their best hooves forward as well, gleaming in the Kentucky sunshine and sailing through the first horse inspection, with the ground jury accepting all 38 horses presented this afternoon. (Andrew McConnon withdrew Ferrie’s Cello shortly before the jog.)
We caught up with a few riders to talk about their outfits, their horses, and how they’re feeling about the challenge to come this week.
A Last-Minute Decision
Tamie Smith made the trip from Murrieta, California, to the Kentucky Horse Park with no outfit for Wednesday.
“I got outfitted by Hound & Hare like 45 minutes ago,” she said with a laugh. “I just show up, and they give me what to wear. I’m nuts. I’m busy, and I don’t like shopping—but how can you not trust them?”
Meghan O’Donoghue went with a reliable standby when choosing what to wear. For the third year in a row she went to Everard’s Clothing in Washington, D.C., for an outfit for jog day, and said the two-piece skirt-top combination she left with caught her eye immediately.
It’s also the third year in a row she’s bringing Palm Crescent to Kentucky, after finishing 11th last year on the Thoroughbred.
“He is full of character,” she said of the 17-year-old gelding. “He shows his opinions and tells you exactly how he feels all the time. He loves being the center of attention. He knows he’s king in the first stall and gets to go all the places. He knows when it’s special, and he’s the only one on the trailer, and we’re there for an extra bit of time. It’s kind of cool to see a horse that’s evolved from a young off-the-track-Thoroughbred to something that is a class athlete.”
Pulling From The Back Of The Closet
Every year when Will Coleman comes to Kentucky, he already knows what he’ll wear on the first day of competition.
“I’ve actually been wearing the same jog outfit for about 10 years,” he said. “It’s the only time I’ve ever worn it; I don’t think I’ve even cleaned it since last year.”
Coleman has two entries this year in the five-star: Chin Tonic, a five-star first-timer, and Off The Record, who was part of the silver-medal team at last year’s FEI Eventing World Championships (Italy).
“We’ve brought him well prepared, but [at] a horse’s first five-star sometimes you don’t always know what you’re going to get,” said Coleman of Chin Tonic. “I feel like we’ve done the work, and now we just need to see what happens.”
A Little Bit Of Everything
Canadian Hawley Awad picked trousers from an unexpected source.
“[They’re] Spanx. No one would guess that,” she said. “I’m wearing super cute shoes from Hound & Hare and my leather coat that I got from the London Olympics when I ate it—we went on a shopping spree the next day to make [me] feel better.”
This will be Awad’s sixth trip to Kentucky with JollyBo.
“It’s a magical partnership,” she said. “She’s pretty special; she’s part of the family. She’s in love with [my husband] Gamal; she’s in love with me. She loves the dogs.”
A Kentucky First-Timer
It was Sydney Solomon’s first time running down Kentucky’s jog strip. She wore Fairfax & Favor—along with earrings that were a gift from friends John and Betsy Spence—as she showed off Early Review CBF to the ground jury.
“When I first started riding her, Phillip [Dutton] told me she was the best jumping horse I’d have in my career,” she said.
“She is spicy,” she added of “Coco.” “I like to joke that she doesn’t keep any secrets. She’s always telling us exactly how she feels—what she wants, and what she doesn’t want. She loves her job, but the dressage is tricky. It’s improving; we’re just hoping for a respectable test on Friday, going to let her rip on cross-country.”
A Long-Time Partnership
Emily Hamel also turned to Fairfax & Favor to trot Corvett up the jog strip.
“He’s awesome,” she said of her first five-star horse. “I’m just really excited about this week. This is our fifth five-star now, and we’ve got some good experience. [We] really have a trusting partnership. I’m just looking forward to getting out on the course.
“He’s very particular,” she added. “He’s a momma’s boy: He really likes me; he’s a little hesitant about new people, but once you get on his good side you’re good to go.”
Old And New
Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp picked up some new parts to her outfit when she arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“Fairfax & Favor provided me with this beautiful coat and these boots, and I actually have a bag that matches,” she said. “And these are some awesome leather trousers I bought in Ireland years ago and forgot I had.”
Halliday-Sharp has a long partnership with Deniro Z and a shorter tenure with Miks Master C, aka “Mikki.”
“My partnership with Mikki is still pretty short; I haven’t been with him for even a year yet,” she said. “But he’s a spectacular horse. He’s one of the best horses in the world I think. [I] just need a little more time to really have all the polish on, but he feels ready for his first five-star for sure. And me and Deniro Z have been together a very long time—eight or nine years now. I’m just thrilled to have him back here feeling his best. He clearly is feeling his best; that was actually the naughtiest he’s been to jog ever, but that’s a good thing. When he’s spicy like that it’s when he’s feeling great and ready to take it on.”
Adding Some Personality
Jennie Saville (née Brannigan) also relied on Fairfax & Favor to outfit her boots and jacket.
“I’ve got to be a little bit me, got to add some leather,” she said. “Can’t be too country—country chic isn’t really my style.”
Saville has three mounts for the five-star, including Stella Artois who spent 2022 out with an injury.
“I’m a little emotional,” she said. “I had my best five-star finish on her and had them all since they were young, and it’s really cool to have them all here. But any time they break you are just hopeful they’re coming back, and she’s going better than ever. It’s really special. I love her.”
A Little Help From My Friends
Lexington, Kentucky, resident Alexandra Knowles focused on her horse, Morswood, rather than her outfit, before the event.
“I’m wearing a dress my friend [Katie Hurt] outfitted me in,” she said. “I am very well kept by very good friends. They have put together the entire outfit—shoes, hair, the whole deal.
She said she loves competing at the “Best Weekend All Year.”
“Every year you think it’s going to feel like, ‘OK, it’s just another horse show,’ and it never does,” she said. “I show up to the Horse Park a million times a year, but there are always butterflies [before the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L]. It feels like a whole different thing. I’m eternally grateful to have this many people behind me.”
Looking for more info? Check out what you need to know here.
Results I Course Walk I Live Stream I COTH’s Coverage I Schedule I Ride Times
The Chronicle is on-site at the Kentucky Horse Park with reporters to bring you everything you need to know at coth.com, so you don’t have to miss a minute of the action. You can find all of our coverage from the week here. You can also follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to read our May 22 Kentucky Results issue for more in-depth coverage and analysis of the event.