Tamra Smith had a long trip from California to make it to Kentucky, but Fleeceworks Royal made it worth her while by stepping out as the early leader in the CCI5*-L competition at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™.
The gray Holsteiner mare, owned by Judith McSwain took the lead with a score of 32.9, but she’s less than a point in front of second-placed Colleen Rutledge on Covert Rights who scored 33.8. Doug Payne on his 2020 Tokyo Olympic mount Vandiver stand third with 34.9.
I was really happy with her. She was with me the whole way and I was thrilled with her, she was awesome,”
Smith has ridden “Rory” since she was 3, after McSwain bought her from her breeder Charlotte Wrather. She is the full sister to a previous Kentucky competitor, Kristi Nunnink’s R-Star.
I’ve had her since she was 3, so it’s kind of crazy. Every time I’m going out of the start box at Advanced, I’m like ‘but you’re 3.’ It’s special to be sitting on one you’ve produced from scratch, and you think of all the times and the many people she’s bucked off,”
Smith said with a laugh.
Rutledge and Payne also have long-term relationships with their horses. Rutledge bred Covert Rights out of her first advanced mare and Payne’s horse Vandiver is still part-owned by his breeder.
It feels amazing, to be sitting up here on my homebred out of my first advanced mare. He’s a blast to ride every day no matter what, … he’s amazing to ride and he puts a smile on my face every day. I’m having a great time this week so far and that’s what this is all about,”
It’s super special, and it’s cool all of us up here are on U.S-bred horses,”
(Vandiver’s breeder and part-owner) Debi (Crowley) is with us, and it’s a crazy experience to be able to share their dream, so we’re trying to savor it.”
Friday kicks off with another day of dressage, but these riders have already started turning their eye to Saturday’s cross country course, designed by Derek di Grazia, which promises to be a significant test.
There are a lot of questions throughout that will be challenging and the way in which its set up, we will see a lot of different solutions to same problem. It requires you to be super sharp and reactive and it’s an instinctive test rather than mathematical,”
The courses are definitely very reactionary … but that’s what a good cross country rider and horse are,” said Smith. “Derek is very clever in how he manages to make something that doesn’t seem like it will, ride hard, so you have to be super focused and never let your guard down.”
Derek is a genius — this is going to separate those that wannabe from those that are and you’ve got to be able to ride not just off your eye but your leg and your butt,”
Every fence asks something a little bit different, but everything he asks is clear.( Asking) one or two questions makes it hard but (asking) every single one makes relentless, it’s going to come down to the last fence, I don’t think there’s a gimme fence out there.”
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™ (LRK3DE), April 28-May 1, 2022 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, hosts one of only seven annual Five Star three-day events in the world. The event also hosts a CCI4*-S as well as the $225,000 Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.
Known as “The Best Weekend All Year,” The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN annually attracts more than 80,000 spectators who also enjoy extensive shopping, a variety of hospitality experiences and a wide array of demonstrations. The Three-Day Event is a thrilling multi-day competition featuring Olympic-level riders and horses in what can best be described as an equestrian triathlon. The Five Star riders compete for their share of $375,000 in prize money as well as a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, which is awarded to any rider who wins the Land Rover Kentucky, Badminton and Land Rover Burghley Five Star Events in succession. LRK3DE is the longest-running Five Star event in the Americas and as the United States’ premier event, also serves as the Land Rover/USEF CCI-5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™ for the U.S. athletes.
Further information visit the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event website.