2012 Rolex Kentucky – Saturday, April 28

September 13th, 2012 1:42 PM | Comments Off on 2012 Rolex Kentucky – Saturday, April 28

Eventing Cross-Country & World Championship Reining Freestyle Competition

by Sarah

Boyd Martin at Rolex 2012

Boyd Martin and Otis Barbotiere.
Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

I hiked out to my chosen first jump for today (# 22a,b,c – the HSBC FEI Classic Normandy Bank)  in a sweater with both rain coat and wellies in my backpack. The sky looked threatening and the wind suggested thunderstorms might follow. Everybody else, except the girl wearing shorts who walked by wrapped in a blanket, was dressed for weather too.

I picked a spot and waited… and waited…. While I waited, an obstacle earlier in the course, number 9 – the Bridgestone Park Question, handed out its first retirement of the day, Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe who had been first on course.

Becky Holder at Rolex 2012

Becky Holder and Courageous Comet
were not hurt in their fall.
Sarah Miller/MacMillan Photography

Second out of the starting box, Karen O’Connor took an unexpected dip at fence 5 (the HSBC Water Park) when she fell from Veronica and I considered moving up field. But, I stayed and saw the Bank end Becky Holder’s and Courageous Comet’s run for the day. Neither were hurt and they headed for the barn.

By lunch the sky had given up its threatening pose and I traded rain gear and sweater for a lighter shirt and sun block. I also moved down the hill to the Sunken Road (#17a,b,c,d,e). It’s another favorite, and from the bleachers I could see four other obstacles, and join a bigger cheering section.

When Jim Woffard said in his course walk that we could “expect refusals and run outs” at jump 9 – the Bridgestone Park Question – he wasn’t kidding. Nineteen of the day’s competitors found it a tricky question indeed. Seventeen riders accumulated 422 penalty points among them and another two competitors retired there. For comparison, only two other obstacles came close to that kind of impact:  the Rolex Head of the Lake water complex (19/20a,b,c,d) and the Offset Brushes (#27a,b). Those two racked up a comparatively paltry 100 penalty points each. By the end of the day, which began with 54 starters on cross-country, 15 riders had been eliminated and seven retired from the course.

William Fox-Pitt at Rolex 2012

William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk
showing how it’s done.
Margaret MacGregor/MacMillan Photography

Not everyone was so unlucky. Erin Sylvester on No Boundaries was the first of the day to go double clear. After lunch William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk gave a textbook performance on how to get it done. Twenty horse/rider combinations had clean jumping rounds and only seven scored a double clear (no jumping or time penalties).

All those eliminations made for some interesting place changing. Beth Perkins on Sal Dali went from 57th place to 25th place, and Erin Sylvester’s double clear moved her from 48th to 15th. The top two remain Alison Springer and William Fox-Pitt, but they’ve swapped places. With only 1.7 points separating them, tomorrow’s jumping round should be exciting.

Allison Springer and Arthur, cross country at Rolex 2012

Allison Springer and Arthur,
in second after cross country.
Kim MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

Standings after the end of cross-country were as follows:  William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Parklane Hawk, first (41.3); Allison Springer (USA) and Arthur, second (43.0); Jonathon “Jock” Paget (NZL), third (44.8); Boyd Martin (USA); Otis Barbotiere, fourth (51.0), and Karen O’Connor (USA) and Mr. Medicott, fifth (51.0), and William Coleman (USA) and Twizzel, sixth (51.3).

After the last rider for the day went I tried a little cross-country of my own in a Land Rover on the Land Rover Test Drive course set up at the intersection of Nina Bonnie Boulevard and Marks Lane. The test course, with hills, banks, a water crossing and a bridge, was a big draw. Sign up and you get to drive one of their cars across the small obstacle course while a Land Rover representative sits in the passenger seat and tells you how to get through it and shows off the car’s many gadgets. The rep that I asked wasn’t sure how many people had tried it that day, he guessed somewhere between 200 and 350, and going by the thirty-person line I joined, I’d guess it was closer to the high number. Going up some pretty steep hills, tilting the car on a bank farther than you really feel a car should go, and then driving over moguls that leave alternating wheels off the ground is exciting. Plus, at the end, you get a hat that you can only get for driving the car. Pretty cool.

Peter Kyle at Rolex 2012

Peter Kyle and A Ruf Gal
were groovy freestyle winners.
Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

The day wasn’t done yet either. Tonight was also the World Championship Freestyle competition for reining at the Alltech Indoor Arena. Unlike dressage freestyles, these freestyle riders really let their hair down. Costumes, props and crowd participation seem to be required, not just encouraged. This year’s winner, Peter Kyle on the American Quarter Horse mare A Ruf Gal, was dressed in a dreadlocks wig, tie-dyed shirt and peace sign necklace and rode to Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World”. The crowd clapped in tempo as he turned in his “groovy” winning performance. Second in the freestyle competition by just one point were last year’s winners Shane Brown and the American Quarter Horse stallion Houston Shine who rode this year to Blake Shelton’s “God Game Me You”. Third was 19-year-old Laura Sumrall riding in a black evening gown on her Quarter Horse mare Einstein’s Fancy Pine to Santana’s “Black Magic Woman”, a routine her mother helped her choreograph.

Celebrity Reiner Karen O'Connor at Rolex 2012

Celebrity reiner Karen O’Connor.
Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

Two event riders made appearances as celebrity reiners, Karen O’Connor riding Shane Brown’s Shepherd Star and Gina Miles, riding for Riders4Helmets (in her stylish pink and black Charles Owens helmet) mounted on Polly Hilliard’s IRA Top Gunner to Katy Perry’s “California Girls”. Both ladies seemed to have lots of fun and the crowd loved it judging by the cheers and clapping. Karen said in an interview after her ride that she “had always been a cowgirl.”

Gina Miles Reins at Rolex 2012

Gina Miles Reins at Rolex!
Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

As we left the reining arena at about 9 p.m., a severe thunderstorm watch had developed, which later was upgraded to a tornado watch. But we were home safely tucked in our hotel room while the rain, thunder and lightning “did their thing” and nothing too serious developed in Lexington. Sure hope it is all done by tomorrow morning!



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