Irish Sport Horses Dominate Scoreboard at 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event


Co. Kildare, Ireland – May 3, 2017 – Irish Sport Horses again proved their talent as world-class athletes,  dominating the scoreboard with top placings at the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Presented by Land Rover, held April 27-30 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Out of the 39 entries that completed the Four Star competition, 16 were Irish Sport Horses (ISH), who claimed five spots in the top-ten, including third and fourth places!

Great Britain’s Zara Tindall, the Queen’s granddaughter, rode her long-time partner “High Kingdom,” a 16-year-old ISH. The pair made an impressive debut at their first-ever “Rolex Kentucky” finishing in third place after superb clear rounds on the cross-country and show jumping courses to complete on their dressage score of 46.6 penalties – one of only two combinations to do so at the event.

Zara Tindall (GBR) and her Irish Sport Horse “High Kingdom” on their way to a third place finish at Rolex Kentucky (Michelle Dunn Photo)

“My horse was fantastic all the way through the competition,” commented Tindall. “He doesn’t owe me anything,” she added, noting the horse has been in the ribbons at several four-stars and has an Olympic medal and a World Championship medal on his resume. “I loved riding him all weekend!”

U.S. veterans Phillip Dutton and the 18-year-old ISH “Mr. Medicott,” who was making his last-ever four-star appearance, were the only other duo to complete the event on their dressage score. They finished with a score of 54.6 penalties, good for fourth place overall and emerging as winners of the Roger Haller Memorial Trophy for the Rolex/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship, Dutton’s record fifth time winning the USEF title. Dutton had three horses finish in the top-ten, also taking eighth place on the 12-year-old ISH “Fernhill Fugitive” with a score of 63.0, and tenth place on “I’m Sew Ready” (69.1), giving Dutton an astounding 40 completions at “Rolex Kentucky.”

Veteran competitors Phillip Dutton (USA) and the Irish Sport Horse “Mr. Medicott” took home the Roger Haller Memorial Trophy for the Rolex_USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship (Michelle Dunn Photo)

“He’s such as an incredible horse,” said Dutton about “Mr. Medicott.” “For him to show so much heart – I mean, I only did one horse trial on him in two years – he was just incredible this weekend!”

“The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day event is one of the world’s biggest three-day events, and we are delighted with the performances of the Irish Sport Horses!” said Elaine Hatton, Director of International Marketing for Horse Sport Ireland. “The results speak for themselves. Out of the 59 original entries, only 39 completed and 16 of them were Irish horses. It truly proves how versatile the breed is in a sport that demands talent and bravery at the highest level.”

U.S. rider Matthew Brown and “Super Socks BCF,” an 11-year-old ISH, took sixth place on a score of 56.8, while countryman Kurt Martin and the 12-year-old ISH “Delux Z” took ninth place on 68.3 after turning in a double clear round in show jumping. Fellow U.S. rider Lillian Heard took 13th place on “LCC Barnaby,” an 11-year-old ISH and also 15th place on “Share Option,” a 15-year-old Irish Thoroughbred cross.

Ireland’s Tim Bourke and the 12-year-old ISH “Luckaun Quality” also proved competitive against the world-class field, rising from an initial 41st place after the dressage phase to finish in 16th place. Fellow Irishman Aiden Keough and “Master Tredstep,” a 15-year-old ISH, finished in 29th place.

Additional ISH competitors finishing in the top 25 included:  22nd placed “Clip Clop” ridden Joe Meyer (NZL) and 25th placed “Pfun” ridden by Will Faudree (USA).

Defending champion Michael Jung of Germany made history by winning the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event for a third consecutive year aboard FischerRocana FST. The duo lowered one rail in show jumping to finish on 42.7 penalties, just ahead of France’s Maxime Livio and Qalao Des Mers on 44.6 penalties.  Nine countries (Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and USA) were represented and a total of 80,654 people came to the Kentucky Horse Park to cheer on the competitors.

There were several special moments for Irish Sport Horses at the event. Buck Davidson (USA) retired his venerable mount “Ballynoe Castle RM” a 16-year-old ISH owned by Carl and Cassie Segal, in front of cheering crowds prior to the show jumping. Davidson and his long-time groom Kathleen Blauth-Murray choked back tears as they draped him in flowers and a blanket commemorating his long career as the bay gelding is the all-time leading points earner in U.S. eventing history and also competed at two FEI World Equestrian Games (2010, 2014). “Reggie” also entered the dressage arena one last time at the beginning of the competition-this time with Kathleen on board and the pair performed a special test ride together.

Irish Sport Horse “Ballynoe Castle RM” gets a special bouquet during his retirement ceremony from rider Buck Davidson and groom Kathleen Blauth-Murray (Michelle Dunn Photo)

U.S. rider Alison Springer rode her famed partner “Arthur” an 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse, in one last dressage performance in the Rolex Stadium in a farewell performance for fans. The pair competed at many four-star events together including five times at Rolex Kentucky, taking second place in 2012.

Alison Springer (USA) and her famed Irish Sport Horse “Arthur” give their fans a special farewell dressage performance in the Rolex Stadium
(Michelle Dunn Photo)

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