Lexington, Kentucky – April 22, 2021 – Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous delivered a stunning performance Thursday, earning a 21.7 to lead the CCI5*-L at The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by MARS Equestrian™ (LRK3DE) in Lexington, KY.
Theirs is the best score earned at this event since 2009, when Bettina Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo scored a 19.2 and Lucinda Fredericks and Headley Brittania earned a 21.5 (scores adjusted to the modern scoring system). It’s a great start for Little and RF Scandalous, the 2018 Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Champions.
“It’s great to be back here in Kentucky. It’s a great gauge. The last time she was here she was on a 24.8 [after dressage]. She’s so much more mature and we’ve both learned so much,” Little said of the 16-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders. “Riding a horse like Scandalous here is also a privilege. She’s my horse of a lifetime. I’m acutely aware of that and trying to make sure I’m enjoying every moment with her.”
Like many horses, “Kitty” was “exhilarated by the cold,” requiring Little to adjust her warm-up plan. “I got a little bit defensive and conservative in the first few movements. All of a sudden I felt her maturity and professionalism come through,” Little said. “I got braver as the test was going and she got some sparkling marks at the end.”
Oliver Townend (GBR) and Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class are attempting to defend their 2018 and 2019 Kentucky titles this week. They’re off to a good start scoring a 24.1 to sit second after the first day of dressage.
“I think that’s the best test he’s done at Kentucky. He’s on the same score as  but it’s a different test which possibly doesn’t suit him quite as well,” Townend said of the 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse. “He felt very relaxed. He’s probably one that does miss the crowd a little bit because he is a very laid-back character, and it does him no harm to have a bit of atmosphere.
“Of course, we miss the crowd, especially here in America because everyone is obviously so enthusiastic and it’s a very knowledgeable crowd. You can feel that you’ve done a good test without looking at the scoreboard. At the same time it’s still very much Kentucky. You’re still riding down the chute into that arena. In eventing there is no arena in the world like that and that’s why we keep coming back. We’re huge fans of the place.”
Three-time Kentucky champion William Fox-Pitt (GBR) echoed Townend’s sentiments, and he is making the most of his return to Kentucky for the first time since 2015.
“It’s very nostalgic to be back here. Driving into the Park I felt quite emotional and excited. It’s great to feel like that. It’s been two very boring years [at home]. How lucky are we to have an exciting competition to attack?” Fox-Pitt said.
Currently placed third with Oratorio on a 27.9, Fox-Pitt is hoping the 12-year-old gelding’s experience at the level will stand him in good stead given their less than ideal preparation due to COVID-19 related event cancellations.
“In Europe we’re a bit behind [America] and a little bit less prepared,” Fox-Pitt said. “I’m rather hoping with his bit of experience and the fact he’s not a newbie he’ll remember what to do and to aim between those flags. I believe he’s fit and on the aids. Horses don’t forget. They’re amazing animals.”
The CCI5*-L competition will resume Friday at 12:15 pm. Visit the Virtual Experience Webpage to find all the information you need for the 2021 LRK3DE.
Known as “The Best Weekend All Year,” the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by MARS Equestrian™ (LRK3DE) hosts one of only seven annual Five Star three-day events in the world and is serving as a U.S. selection trial for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games. As the United States’ premier three-day event, LRK3DE serves as the Land Rover/USEF CCI-5*-L Eventing National Championship Presented by MARS Equestrian™ for U.S. athletes.
A new partnership between EEI and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation combined with the support of US Equestrian (USEF), longstanding sponsors Land Rover, MARS Equestrian™ and Rolex and many other valued event sponsors, plus the collective efforts of the many individuals who donated, ensured that the nation’s premier equestrian event will be held with its traditional CCI5*-L in the afternoons and a new CCI4*-S in the mornings. Although the event is being held without spectators, it can be seen live online on the USEF Network, free of charge with a USEF Fan Membership, which is available at no cost using the code LRK3DE21.
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by MARS Equestrian™ is indebted to all of its sponsors for their support, without which the event could not be possible.
About Equestrian Events, Inc. Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation that was established initially to produce the World Three-Day Event Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park in 1978. Following the success of those championships, EEI established an annual event that evolved into the world-renowned Kentucky Three-Day Event which draws more than 80,000 spectators to the Kentucky Horse Park each year. EEI also produces other events and supports several local and equine charities. EEI has donated more than $725,000 to various charities since 2011. Further information about EEI and the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is available at www.kentuckythreedayevent.com.
About the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation Since its inception in 1985, the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation has provided over $25 million worth of improvements, helping make the Kentucky Horse Park the leading equestrian facility of its kind in the world. The Kentucky Horse Park Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to enhancing, expanding, and improving the Kentucky Horse Park. Further information is available at www.khpfoundation.org.