The last time Alyssa Phillips won at the Kentucky Horse Park, she won the 2011 FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championship at age 14. That was one year before her dad passed away. On Sunday, Phillips won at Kentucky again, this time taking home the Lexington CCI4*-S title riding her and Julie Phillips’ Holsteiner gelding Oskar.
“My dad was definitely here in the stadium today, just like he was in 2011,” Phillips said.
Phillips and Oskar were tied for 15th after dressage on a score of 32.3. They added 5.6 time penalties but no jumping penalties on a testing cross-country track Saturday.
“I was getting nervous [watching the cross-country live stream] but I ride a lot better under pressure,” Phillips said. “I went out to the warm-up and my trainer Jennie Brannigan told me, ‘You know your horse, ride the plan, be aggressive.’ That’s how I went out of the start box. I wasn’t looking at my watch. I was focused on getting to the next jump and seeing the distance because the rain was in my eyes. He jumped fantastic and got home quick.”
Their cross-country performance put them second going into the final phase on a score of 37.9. They produced one of only five fault-free show jumping rounds to put the pressure on the leader, who ultimately pulled a rail, giving Phillips her first Four Star win.
“The season I’ve had has been pretty amazing,” she said. “The win this weekend really topped everything off.”
Tamie Smith and Ruth Bley’s EnVogue were leading the way after the first two phases, but an unlucky rail plus 1.2 time penalties saw them finish second on 40.2.
“She jumped really amazing and had a great round,” Smith said. “I barely ticked it behind. It’s part of the sport. I was really proud of how she jumped. It’s the best she’s jumped in that kind of atmosphere.”
At 16 years old, EnVogue isn’t ready to start slowing down. She moved up to Advanced with Smith two years ago but otherwise hasn’t had a particularly intense career.
“She’s a very sound and strong horse,” Smith said. “Honestly age is just a number if they’re feeling great and sound and good in their bodies. Every event she keeps getting better and better.”