American rider Clark Montgomery rode a superbly smooth dressage test on Loughan Glen to take the lead in front of his new home crowd at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. It’s the third leg of the FEI Classics™, a series that links the world’s six major four-star events and provides valuable cash prizes to the top three in the points table.
Montgomery, who has returned to the USA from a spell based in Britain and now lives in Kentucky State, heads the 59 starters at the USA’s premier event on the excellent score of 33.6, but there’s no relaxing when defending champion Michael Jung from Germany is only 3.5 penalties behind. Jung, the dual Olympic champion and 2015-2016 FEI Classics™ leader (he is currently third in the 2016-2017 table), is going for a record third successive Kentucky victory on the same horse, gallant little mare FischerRocana FST.
He has a habit of piling on pressure with faultless jumping performances and Montgomery and Loughan Glen, no strangers to outstanding success in the dressage arena, have a few blots on their cross-country record. However, the dressage leader, who describes tomorrow’s test as “beefy”, was visibly elated:
“My horse felt super. This morning he was pretty tight, but he was ‘up’ which is what we wanted. He felt good in his body, good in his mind.”
Clark Montgomery (USA)
US rider Kim Severson, who has achieved the rare distinction of winning Kentucky three times on the same horse, Winsome Adante (albeit not in succession), is in third place on her rising star Cooley Cross Border.
Speedy Frenchman Maxime Livio scored the first victory in the current FEI Classics™ series, at Pau, France, and brings that winning horse, Qalao Des Mers, for a first attempt at Kentucky. They are eighth on 44.6.
Zara Tindall, the 2006 world champion, is the sole Brit; she was near the bottom of the Badminton waitlist and decided to cross the Atlantic instead with her 2012 Olympic silver medallist High Kingdom. They are currently 16th on 46.6, just 0.3 ahead of fellow traveller Tim Price (NZL) on Ringwood Sky Boy, 17th.
Kentucky’s last home winner was Phillip Dutton way back in 2008; he’s in joint ninth on 44.8 with two of his three rides, Fernhill Fugitive and the 17-year-old Mr Medicott. The vastly experienced rider, a bronze medallist in Rio last year, has this to say about tomorrow’s cross-country, which starts at 10am local time: “You’ve got to keep thinking, not let the blood rush to the head and see how your horse handles the distance. It’s another great course from Derek (di Grazia, designer) and will sort everyone out.”
Photo: FEI/Rebecca Berry