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Ransehousen Leads Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event
Lexington, KY, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Kristin Bachman (USA) and Gryffindor
In the first day of dressage competition, first-time four-star competitor Missy Ransehausen, riding Critical Decision took the lead at the Rolex Kentucky three-day event CCI**** at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Kristin Bachman and Gryffindor are in second followed by international veteran Phillip Dutton on Connaught.

Ransehousen, 37 is the daughter of three-time Olympian and dressage judge Jessica Ranshousen so it is only natural that she should excel in the first phase of the event. Missy was a successful Young Rider and was a member of the silver medal winning team at the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina, and has been the Chef d'Equipe of the US Para Equestrian team since 2000 in Sydney, Australia. She trains out of Blue Hill Farm in Unionville, PA.

"My horse was quite good," she said. "Normally rain isn't good just because of the sloppy footing and because horses tend to get behind the vertical and resistant, but I was lucky."

Competitors were pelted with rain through most of the day, but Ransehousen and Bachman both rode in the sunshine. Dutton however received some of the worst of the downpour. "I was more worried about the wind," he said, commenting, "Horses' natural tendency is to turn away from the wind, but you just hope that the training will pay off and the horse will listen to you and ignore the wind. My horse was quite rideable today."

Bachman, returning to Kentucky for her second time at the four-star, said that she feels more comfortable, organized and at ease this year. Bachman moved to Virginia two years ago from her home state of Washington and has continued success with Gryffindor, including winning the Advanced Championship at the Wellpride American Eventing Championship in Raeford, NC last year. This year she is the recipient of the Beacon Charm Fund Grant, which she said, "has enabled me to do everything to keep my horse comfortable and take whatever lessons I need, which is great."

Looking forward to Saturday's cross-country, riders commented that the course looked big and tough but rideable. "Last year my eyes were popping out of my head and this year I think it's a great course - I'm more comfortable with it and it looks fun."

"It's my first Rolex and my first time walking the course and I think it looks beautiful," agreed Ransehousen. Dutton said, "While 'old-fashioned' is not the right word, it's a strong-riding course. The telling part will be that every three out of four jumps is max height and that takes it out of your horse. It's well built and will require confident riding and a scopey horse."

Young Rider Tiana Coudray, who traveled all the way from California for her first Rolex attempt, is in fourth place aboard King Street, with whom she won the CIC-W*** at Galways Downs, CA just a few weeks ago. She said, "I'm incredibly inexperienced and this is the biggest I've seen, but it looks do-able. I'm not thinking, "Oh, dear God, why did I come here!" to which Australian rider Clayton Fredericks, silver medalist at last year's World Equestrian Games, quipped, "Well, I came back from the course walk and thought, 'Oh God, why did I do this sport!'" Then he said, "It's possibly stronger than I expected but the fences are horse-friendly. I think it'll be tough to get the time and we might see a few horses canter slowly up the last hill."

Course designer Mike Etherington-Smith commented that he designed the course to make the time difficult to meet, but made minimal changes to last year's track. "I want to have flexibility for the future," he said, no doubt to play around with the course in preparation for the Alltech World Equestrian Games which will take place at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2010. The forecast looks mild for Saturday and he said that he predicts the footing will be ideal. "Mick Costello has done a great job preparing the fences and the footing," he said.

Friday's competition continues with 24 horses entering the arena. Fredericks is first in the arena on Ben Along Time, riding at 9:30am. Complete results and more information are online at

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