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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Oliver Townend Wins Third Consecutive Title at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, Boyd Martin and On Cue Win CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship

LEXINGTON, Ky.--Oliver Townend of Great Britain won the Kentucky 3-Day 5* on Sunday, April 25 for the third straight year, this time on Ballaghmor Class, finishing on 27.3, while Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Pa., was the highest placed American on On Cue, finishing fourth on 31.8 to win the National Championship.

Boyd Martin on On Cue jmp MacMillanBoyd Martin on On Cue (Photo by MacMillan Photography)Martin had been second after cross country, but with eight riders within one rail of each other for the show jumping, one rail down on Sunday dropped him to fourth.

Phillip Dutton on Z placed eighth on 35.5 to place second in the National standings.

But the overall finishes for the Americans on home turf don't bode well for our success in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Brits placed first, fifth and 26th, with Harry Meade on Superstition placing fifth on 33.6 and Leslie Law finishing 26th.

New Zealanders dominated the standings, placing second, third, seventh and 11th, with Tim Price on Xavier Faer and Jonelle Price on Grovine De Reve finishing second and third on 28.2 and 30.7, Jonelle finishing seventh on Classic Moet on 35.2, and Jesse Campbell on Diachello finishing 11th on 39.5.

The German 3-Day eventers are traditionally very strong, so the U.S. has a tough road in front of it.


BEFORE NOW, in the 43-year history of the Kentucky Three-Day Event, only Germany's Michael Jung had won three times in a row.

Olier Townend 3rd winOliver Townend's third win in KentuckyOn Sunday, world #1 Townend jumped clear under pressure to add to his record a third consecutive CCI5*-L victory at the Kentucky Horse Park and sixth career Five Star win.

It was also the second Five Star victory for Ballaghmor Class.

The scores were incredibly close before show jumping, with the top eight all within a rail of the lead.

Townend’s day had an unhappy start, when eighth place Cooley Master Class was spun from the final horse inspection.

By the time Townend entered the arena for his show jumping round on Ballaghmor Class, he was faced with needing a fault-free round to win.

A successful effort and finishing score of 27.3 earned Townend a $50,000 pay day and one-year lease on a 2021 Land Rover Discovery.

1 Oliver Townend Ballaghmoor Class by Jen Emig JLE 5670Oliver Townend on Ballaghmoor Class (Photo by Jen Emig)“I had a plan and just went in and did it,” Townend said. 'Ballaghmor Class was jumping exceptionally which makes my job very, very easy. My biggest concern is, I find it easy to have time penalties with him. He’s a big jumper and actually quite slow in the way he does things. It’s very easy to get stuck in gear. My biggest thing was to have a good strong pace, don’t be caught on time, and just try and get him in the position to clear the fences.”

Spectators were absent this year, but Townend felt there was still an atmosphere to contend with.

“The stadium itself is the most special stadium in the world for eventing. When you go in that stadium, whether it’s full to the brim or it’s completely empty, for me there is still a very strong aura because this place is so special to us,” Townend said. “Going down that chute when there are thousands of people watching or no one watching, when the pressure is on it will feel very much like the place we want to be. The pressure is still on. Of course we love a big crowd, we love to perform in front of the crowd, and we miss the crowd, but at the same time it took nothing away from the competition.”

Martin was sitting second after cross-country with On Cue and needed a clear round to hold his placing.

A rail at the first element of a double combination off a tight turn dashed his hopes of putting the pressure on Townend for the win, but with a fourth place finish on a final score of 31.8, Martin won the CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship for the second time in a row.

In 2019 he won the National Championship with Tsetserleg TSF. This year he piloted the 15-year-old mare On Cue to a National Champion title in her Five Star debut.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with On Cue. When you bring a horse to this level for the first time you don’t know quite what to expect,” Martin said. “She’s unbelievable though. She gave everything she had this weekend and exceeded my expectations. I thought it would be my other horse Tsetserleg that would have done better, but she really stepped up and tried her absolute guts out. I would have loved to jump clear today but having one pole down with this company here is still respectable.”

“When I first came to Kentucky in 2006, I couldn’t believe the crowds," said Martin. "You’re galloping around the cross-country and there are seas of people cheering. As you get more experience you learn to focus in, but I would say this weekend I was just as nervous and terrified and there was just as much pressure. Being at the Horse Park here and the big jumps and stadium, I don’t think it was any easier not having people watching.”

2 Tim Price Xavier Faer by Allen MacMillan DSC 2508 Tim Priceon  Xavier Faer (Photo by Allen MacMillan)The New Zealand power couple Tim and Jonelle Price placed second and third, respectively. They were also the only individuals in the competition to finish on their dressage scores with two out of five horses entered between them.

Tim and Xavier Faer moved up from equal 11th after dressage to finish second on 28.2 with no jumping or time penalties to add all week.

“I thought it was a very difficult show jumping course. It had all sorts of elements. The time wasn’t just a gimme. You had to work for the clock,” Tim said. “I thought there was an opportunity in there to jump a clear round, but I thought it was going to be difficult to manage today. I didn’t manage it on Bango. I managed to get it done with Xavier Faer. It’s not the same as being in the lead, so you can focus on your job and see where that leaves you.”

Jonelle had three horses in the competition and finished with two in the top 10.

She placed third on 30.7 with Grovine de Reve, adding just 0.4 time penalties in show jumping, and she and her longtime partner Classic Moet finished on their dressage score of 35.2 for seventh place.

“I’ve had him two years. He had mileage with Dan Jocelyn prior to me getting him. I haven’t been given the ride on a lot of older, more experienced horses,” Jonelle said. “It took me a year to change him a little bit and adjust him to the way I wanted him to go. That was the first year really. The next year has been fine tuning him more and more. He’s got a lot in there. He’s not the most outward horse — we’ve had to coax it out of him — but he’s got an immense amount of talent. While he’s not the fanciest, he's a real jumper and is giving me more and more as time goes on. I was really impressed with him this week.”


ALYSSA PHILLIPS on Oskar won the Kentucky CCI4*-S

5 Alyssa Phillips Oskar by Jen Emig JLE 4660Alyssa Phillips on Oskar (Photo by Jen Emig)The last time Phillips won at the Kentucky Horse Park, she won the 2011 FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championship at age 14.

That was one year before her dad passed away.

On Sunday, Phillips, whois nowtrainging with Jennie Brannigan in Coatesville, Pa., won at Kentucky again, this time taking home the Kentucky CCI4*-S title riding Oskar.

“My dad was definitely here in the stadium today, just like he was in 2011,” Phillips said.

Phillips and Oskar were tied for 15th after dressage on a score of 32.3 and added 5.6 time penalties but no jumping penalties on a testing cross-country track Saturday.

“I was getting nervous watching the cross-country live stream, but I ride a lot better under pressure,” Phillips said. “I went out to the warm-up and my trainer Jennie Brannigan told me, ‘You know your horse, ride the plan, be aggressive.’ That’s how I went out of the start box. I wasn’t looking at my watch. I was focused on getting to the next jump and seeing the distance because the rain was in my eyes. He jumped fantastic and got home quick.”

Her cross-country performance put her second going into the final phase on a score of 37.9.

She produced one of only five fault-free show jumping rounds to put the pressure on the leader, who ultimately pulled a rail, giving Phillips her first Four Star win.

“The season I’ve had has been pretty amazing,” she said. “The win this weekend really topped everything off.”

Tamie Smith and Ruth Bley’s EnVogue were leading the way after the first two phases, but an unlucky rail plus 1.2 time penalties had her finish second on 40.2.

“She jumped really amazing and had a great round,” Smith said. “I barely ticked it behind. It’s part of the sport. I was really proud of how she jumped. It’s the best she’s jumped in that kind of atmosphere.”

At 16 years old, EnVogue isn’t ready to start slowing down. She moved up to Advanced with Smith two years ago but otherwise hasn’t had a particularly intense career.

“She’s a very sound and strong horse,” Smith said. “Honestly age is just a number if they’re feeling great and sound and good in their bodies. Every event she keeps getting better and better.”

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