|Tamie Smith (USA) and Mai Baum came close to matching Marilyn Little’s historic leading CCI5*-L dressage score with an impressive mark of their own. A 21.8 placed Smith and the 15-year-old German Sport Horse in second just 0.1 points behind Little and RF Scandalous heading into Saturday’s cross-country at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by MARS Equestrian™ (LRK3DE) at the Kentucky Horse Park.|
“That was definitely his best performance. He was such a showman,” Smith said. “He was actually really nervous. It was kind of cute because normally he doesn’t really get nerves. He kept blowing his nose and wasn’t eating today. I think he knew it was a big day. He went in the ring and it was absolutely stunning. I almost cried. It was just so nice to have him go in there and have such a good performance.”
“Lexus” was previously ridden through the CCI3*-L level by Alex Ahearn, who owns him along with Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell. Alex offered the ride to Smith in 2015, and they went on to win The Dutta Corp/USEF Three-Star Eventing National Championship the same year.
“He’s a phenomenal creature. I had always admired him from afar … Now I get chills every time I think about that night [when Alex offered me the ride]. It changed my career,” Smith said. “It took me some time to get to have a partnership with him because he was very much Alex’s horse, but I feel like he’s a hand in the glove now. We’re such good friends.”
Smith and Lexus have numerous wins at the Advanced level, but this is the gelding’s CCI5*-L debut.
“It was a choice we made. We had high hopes for him going to the Rio Olympic Games and we chose not to do a Five Star until now,” Smith said. “Looking back I don’t know that I would do that again. We really wanted to have a chance to do an Olympic Games and that just happened to be four years later — or five because of COVID. We are here. We are ready.”
Course designer Derek di Grazia has set an impressive cross-country challenge for competitors. It has been commonly said the course looks less intimidating the more it is walked, and Smith believes it is well suited to her mount.
“He is a big, galloping type horse. He’s also quick and naturally fast and rideable,” Smith said. “When I first walked it there were a couple of combinations I was quite worried about but they look really rideable now. I feel like I have a good plan. I feel ready. … The plan is to not leave anything on the table, so here we go.”
|Looking to the rest of the field, Oliver Townend (GBR) has two in the top five. He sits in third place with Cooley Master Class on 24.1 and in fifth place with Ballaghmor Class on 26.5. |
Boyd Martin (USA) piloted all three of his CCI5*-L entries into the top eleven: Tsetserleg TSF is fourth (25.4), On Cue is seventh (27.0), and Long Island T is equal eleventh (28.2). The last ride of the day, Buck Davidson and Carlevo, slotted into sixth place with a 26.7.
It was an impeccable two days of dressage, with the top 20 CCI5*-L competitors all scoring under 30.0. Now all eyes turn to Saturday’s cross-country. Visit the Virtual Experience Webpage to find all the information you need for the 2021 LRK3DE.