Rolex Gets Underway
Lexington, KY, USA
Photo: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com
The Ground Jury of Martin Plewa from Germany, Nick Burton from Great Britain and Jo Young from Canada saw horses and a pony of all shapes and sizes ranging from last year's runner-up in the USEF National CCI**** Championship: Theodore O'Connor (who at 14.1 hands is eventing's super pony) to Polly Stockton's 17.3 hand Tangleman, the sole entrant to make the trip from Europe.
Phillip Dutton, who won last year's USEF CCI**** Championship with Connaught, presented both Connaught and Woodburn in 2008, the latter of which will be contesting his first four-star. Dutton, who was runner-up overall at the event in 2007, 2005, 2004 and 2001, is looking to finally break his seconditis' and win a four-star. The veteran rider won two Olympic gold medals for Australia before becoming an American citizen in 2007 and was then a member of the 2007 Pan American Games gold medal winning team, he also won individual silver.
"It's always exciting to come to Kentucky," said Dutton. "I'm looking forward to the event."
Dutton will have to get past a number of other top riders to break his streak of seconds including O'Connor who along with Teddy also will ride Hugh Knows in his first four-star. O'Connor won the competition in 1999 with Prince Panache.
At the other end of the experience spectrum are seven riders contesting their very first event at the highest level of the sport. This group includes recent Villanova University graduate, Cayla Kitayama who will ride the very experienced Esker Riada. The horse jumped around the course with his former rider, Werner Geven, in 2006.
"I'm most excited to do my first four-star on a horse that has already been around," said Kitayama. "I have complete faith in this horse. What better way to go around Kentucky than on a horse that has already done it?"
Bonnie Mosser rode a little bay horse named Jenga around this event in 2006 and 2007 but she has a horse of a different color for 2008. Merloch, who is nearly white, will be jumping around his first four-star. This pair won the Jersey Fresh CCI*** last spring.
"It is Merloch's first four-star so I will have two different ears to be looking at going around Rolex," said Mosser. "It's going to be a big weekend, my parents are coming and Alex Zavoyna who used to ride him is coming to watch. I'm looking forward to all three days, he performs well in all three phases it is just a matter of putting them all together this weekend."
Three horses were held at the first horse inspection but all were passed upon re-inspection except for Will Faudree's classy veteran Antigua who was sadly withdrawn in the holding box due to a foot abscess.
Dressage gets underway at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Karen and Teddy' will lead it off.
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