Lauren Kieffer and Veronica (RedBayStock.com)
Michael Jung Scores Back-to-Back Win at 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover
Lexington, Ky. – The 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover (RK3DE) came to its conclusion with Sunday’s show jumping phase over Richard Jeffery’s challenging track. The U.S. contingent was impressive at the RK3DE, taking eight of the top 10 places on the leaderboard. Finishing second overall, Lauren Kieffer won her second Rolex/USEF CCI4* National Championship with Veronica with excellent performances in each phase. However, it was Michael Jung (GER) and fischerRocana FST who led America’s only four-star event from start to finish, winning back-to-back titles after claiming top honors in 2015.
Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) steadily climbed the leaderboard throughout the competition with solid performances with Team Rebecca, LLC’s Veronica to finish second overall and claim her second Rolex/USEF CCI4* National Championship. She and the 2002 Dutch Warmblood mare had a lovely, accurate dressage test to receive a score of 43.9 from the Ground Jury of Ernst Topp (GER), Sandy Phillips (GBR), and Andrew Bennie (NZL). The duo attacked Derek di Grazia’s challenging cross-country course in rainy conditions, collecting 7.6 time penalties. Kieffer and Veronica had an excellent show jumping round with a single time penalty to finish on a score of 52.5.
“There was definitely a lot of planning going into this one. It was certainly a goal from the beginning to have good performance. Last time it was a bit of a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t be happier with her, for sure,” Kieffer said of winning her second national title. She added, “I think it is important to notice that the U.S. really dominated the leaderboard for the first time. We had a lot of nations here, so the U.S. team has been working hard to raise its game and it is starting to show, and hopefully everybody continues on with that heading into the summer.”
In only her second RK3DE appearance, Maya Black finished in third place overall and was the Rolex/USEF CCI4* National Reserve Champion with Dawn Dofelmier’s Doesn’t Play Fair. Black (Clinton, Wash.) and the diminutive 2005 Holsteiner gelding had a fluid dressage test to score 45.5. The pair had an efficient cross-country round, only incurring 4.4 time penalties. Black did not let the pressure of her position on the leaderboard affect her and rode a confident show jumping round with Doesn’t Play Fair, having a single rail at fence 9 to finish on a score of 53.9.
“I have had ‘Cody’ for about five or six years now and I have brought him up the levels. He is a great little horse and he has been a pleasure to bring along. As many people know he is not a pleasure to deal with in the barn, but he comes to work every day so he has really been enjoyable to train and travel around the country with,” Black said of her feisty partner. “It has been a good season this spring. I have put some different pieces together and I am really pleased to be here.”
Jung demonstrated why he is number one in the world throughout the weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park. He had a fabulous dressage test with fischerRocana FST and earned a score of 34.4. Jung gave Brigitte and Joachim Jung’s 2005 Deutsches Sportpferd mare a determined ride over the tough cross-country track, adding 0.8 time penalties to their dressage score. He and fischerRocana FST had a significant lead going into the show jumping phase, and though they knocked a rail at 4B, they defended their 2015 title by finishing on a score of 39.2. Jung is only the third rider in the event’s history to win consecutive titles and is now one step closer to winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, a feat that will be accomplished if he wins the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials CCI4* next weekend.
“The big thing I have to say is thank you to all the people who help me so that I can come back again and compete with so many good horses; also that next week I can go to Badminton and that I have another horse for the Olympic Games,” Jung said of his supporters. “It is such a big pleasure and I am very proud of it. The people and every horse had a little part in a very big success for the whole team.”
Dubarry of Ireland sponsored the fourth annual $20,000 Dubarry Team Challenge and the USA came out on top of the standings with a final score of 178.5, followed by New Zealand with a score of 238.0 and the composite team of Australia, Germany, and Great Britain with a score of 298.5.
Watch every ride on demand on the USEF Network.
For more information about the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover, visit rk3de.org.
By Kathleen Landwehr