Lexington, KY – With the sunshine came the first day of dressage at the 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone. After a week of rain, the sun shone brightly and the wind blew through the Kentucky Horse Park. Spectators that were here first thing were treated to the best test of the day as Allison Springer took the lead with Arthur.
The pair was first in the ring – and their score of 42.3 rewarded an elegant effort for a pair that frequently lands atop the dressage leaderboard. Great Britain’s Mary King, who was third last weekend at the Mitsubishi Motors Horse Trials. cruised into second place on Derek Rostron Baden’s Kings Temptress with a score of 47.7. William Coleman and Twizzel were third as Jim Wildasen’s 15-year-old Westfalen contested his first USEF National CCI4* Championship.
Arthur, who Springer owns with her parents William and Caroline, is very experienced even though he is only 12 years old, but he isn’t always the most manageable in an electric environment.
“He’s growing up a little, he’s 12 now,” said Springer about the rangey chestnut Irish Sport Horse. “I think he will always be who he is, and I’m becoming more comfortable with that. He is a quirky, nervous horse. He is enormously talented, and I think he’s been waiting for me to learn a little bit more, which I’ve been working really hard on – to ride him as well as he needs to be ridden. But, I will certainly say that over the past year I’ve been thrilled that I’ve been able to keep weight on this horse and his condition.”
Arthur has extraordinary paces, movement and panache when he allows his mind to settle. He has been on a roll in 2011, highlighted by a win in the CIC3* at the Red Hills International Horse Trials in March.
“I knew it was a good test, but certainly my goal was to be in the 30s for sure – 36 or 37,” said Springer. “I wanted it to be much better because he is perfectly capable of it and I’m perfectly capable of it. I know we are going to do that someday. I was very pleased with the changes. There were a couple of things due to the tension that didn’t flow as much as I’d like, but he was very good. So, I’m not disappointed in him at all.”
With some big names, including last year’s winner of this event, William Fox-Pitt, and last weekend’s Badminton winner Mark Todd competing tomorrow, Springer knows that her score will be challenged.
“I did feel that coming out of the ring that a 42.3 is a great dressage score. I don’t think its good enough. I think we’re going to see some in the 30s tomorrow – I hope so. But, that’s being a competitor; you’re always pushing to be better.”
At the end of the day tomorrow, Springer will ride Destination Known, Arthur’s polar opposite at the end of the day tomorrow. The grey Thoroughbred cross gelding will be attempting the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* for the first time.
Coleman and Twizzel produced a standard classy performance – always looking for more, Coleman was realistic about his performance in the difficult test.
“I thought he was pretty good,” said Coleman. “I have been working hard on those changes so I wish they’d been a little bit better. It wasn’t our best test but we’re happy to be in third and I hope we’re still close after tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s dressage features the second half of the field. Hannah Sue Burnett, the 2009 USEF National CCI2* Champion and the 2010 National CCI3* Champion will lead things off at 10 a.m. Burnett will look to lay the first stone on the path to a fourth star for St. Barth’s championship record.
Springer also won the competitor drawing at Wednesday’s Competitor’s Party for a Rolex watch, 10 minutes after she was awarded a pair of Dubarry boots for being judged ‘best turned out female rider’ at the First Horse Inspection.
The complete order is available here: http://www.rk3de.org/timetable.php.
Watch the competition live (and free) on http://www.usefnetwork.com/Rolex3Day2011/.
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