JUNG WINS SECOND CONSECUTIVE ROLEX KENTUCKY THREE-DAY EVENT

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Michael Jung of Germany became the second rider to win the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover, on the same horse in two consecutive years by riding Fischerrocana FST to a 13.3-point victory. His winning score (39.2) easily bested Lauren Kieffer on Veronica (52.5) and Maya Black on Doesn't Play Fair (53.9).
 
Kim Severson on Winsome Adante is the only previous partnership to record consecutive Rolex Kentucky victories since it became a CCI4* in 1998. They won in 2004 and 2005, after also winning in 2002.
 
Prior to that, when Rolex Kentucky was a CCI3*, Bruce Davidson Sr. won in 1988 and 1989 on Doctor Peaches. Davidson also won Rolex Kentucky in 1983 on J.J. Babu and 1984 on Doctor Peaches, and he won the 1978 World Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park on Might Tango.
 
"I am normally not a man of many words or so much drama as this weekend has been," said Jung 33. "I have to thank all the people behind me and my horses. It's a success of the whole team. Every horse in my stable has had a part in it."
 
In addition to Fischerrocana FST, an 11-year-old German-bred mare, Jung's stable includes numerous international-level event horses, as well international-level show jumping and dressage horses.
 
Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST 
Now Jung's attention turns to the third leg of the Rolex Grand Slam, the Badminton Three-Day Event in England, which begins on Wednesday, May 4. His mount there, La Biosthetique Sam, on whom he won the 2010 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, was due to arrive at Badminton on Sunday. Jung flew out early Monday morning to meet him there Mondayafternoon.
 
If Jung wins Badminton, he will become only the second rider to win the lucrative Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing in the 16-year history of the prize - the winner earns $350,000 for winning three of the biggest four-star events in the world consecutively including Rolex Kentucky, Badminton (UK) and Burghley Three-Day Events (UK). Pippa Funnell of Great Britain is the single previous winner of the Rolex Grand Slam, in 2002-2003.
 
Jung receives his Rolex Watch
 
Kieffer climbed from sixth place to second place by adding just one show jumping time fault to her two-day score. That propelled her up the standings when the four horses in front of her faulted, including Phillip Dutton's third-placed horse, Mighty Nice, and his second-placed horse, Fernhill Fugitive. Dutton finished fourth on Mighty Nice, fifth on Fernhill Cubalawn, and 13th on Fernhill Fugitive.
 
For Kieffer, 28, of Middleburg, Va., second place made her the winner of the Rolex USEF Four-Star Championship for the second time, again on Veronica. Kieffer also finished 18th on Landmark's Monte Carlo, with 20 show jumping faults.
 
"Monte Carlo exceeded our expectations yesterday and had a learning experience today," performing in front of the jam-packed Rolex Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, said Kieffer. "But Veronica is better the more atmosphere she has. It lights her up a bit, and she tries harder."
 
Black, 28, of Clinton, Wash., and Doesn't Play Fair, an 11-year-old U.S.-bred Holsteiner, lowered one jump to move up one place from their two-phase standing. "He's kind of a pain in the barn, but he's a great little horse who comes to work everyday," said Black of her 15.2-hand partner.
 
Kieffer and Dutton, on Mighty Nice, led Team USA to victory in the $20,000 Dubarry Team Challenge, scoring 178.5 faults, along with Boyd Martin on Shamwari 4. Their score handily eclipsed New Zealand (238.0) and the combined team of Australia, Germany and Great Britain (298.5).
 
Sunday's attendance was 25,545, bringing the weekend's total paid attendance to 82,100.
 
Jung Fastest On Cross-Country
 
Jung was fastest on Cross-Country
On Saturday, Jung attacked the cross-country course at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event as if it weren't raining and the ground weren't muddy. The result was that Fischerrocana FST finished just 2 seconds slow to increase the lead she took in dressage to 12.3 points. Fischerrocana's time was the fastest among the 63 horses that started on course.
 
"When I come to a competition, I come to win. There is no other way," Jung said. Jung said he believed that Derek di Grazia's course was tougher than last year, because he used the terrain of the Kentucky Horse Park more.
 
Jung gave spectators and his fellow competitors a lesson in how to ride confidently and accurately around one of the world's most difficult cross-country courses. Seeming oblivious to the conditions, he rode aggressively forward to every jump, often appearing to throw his heart to the other side while keeping his bay mare in perfect balance.
 
Jung admitted that his ride might not have looked as carefully planned as it was. "It was a really great feeling. She was really concentrated from the start box, and I knew we could gallop today," he said. "I gave her more time in the beginning of the course, and at the end she had a enough power so that she could go faster."
 
He believed that Fischerrocana's performance showed what an exceptional horse she is. "In the cross-country, you need a fighting horse, and she's a really fighting horse, because not everything on the cross-country is perfect," he said. "You have to know your horse, like I do with her, because we've been together for many years."
 
Dutton rode Fernhill Fugitive to a clear jumping round (11 seconds slow) as the days' first starter, to stand second, and Mighty Nice to a clear round (12 seconds slow) as the second-last starter, to stand third. In between, he rode Fernhill Cubalawn to a third clear jumping round (18 seconds slow) to stand ninth.
 
"The ground didn't get very deep, but every stride was hard work. The footing at the jumps was well taken care of, but the galloping tracks were soft," Dutton added. "But it was always safe-Derek did a great job."
 
"Brilliant"
 
Di Grazia has been designing Rolex Kentucky since 2011, and earlier this month he was named the cross-country course designer for the 2018 World Championships in Canada and the 2020 Olympics in Japan. Riders called his redesigned Rolex Kentucky course "brilliant" and "superb," partly because no single jump caused more than three horses to incur faults.
 
"You're always a little bit nervous about the weather," di Grazia admitted. "We ran in the rain last year, and the footing held up well, so I thought we'd probably be OK. Still, I will take my hat off to these riders, because they produced some great rounds."
 
Forty starters finished di Grazia's course without jumping faults, but all had time faults, ranging from Jung's 0.8 to 40.4. Five horses were eliminated; riders retired three horses on course; and seven horses were withdrawn before they started.
 
Kieffer stood sixth on Veronica (51.5) and seventh on Landmark's Monte Carlo (52.8).  As the rider with the closest to the optimum time with no jumping penalties, Keiffer won the Land Rover Best Ride of the Day with Landmark's Monte Carlo.  She was the American rider to finish closest to the optimum time of 11:15, just 7 seconds slow.
 
Lauren Kieffer wins two year lease on a Land Rover Discovery Sport for turning in Best Ride of the Day
Kieffer won a two-year lease on a Land Rover Discovery Sport. "I'm pretty ecstatic to 
win this car," said Kieffer with a smile. "Monte Carlo is a homebred, and he hasn't always been the easiest horse, but he was foot-perfect today in his first four-star."
 
Lynn  Symansky and Holly Payne Caravella also finished with 2.8 time faults, but Kieffer won the car because she had the best dressage score.
 
Jung Wins Dressage Too
 
Jung grabbed the lead on Thursday, by earning the outstanding score of 34.4 penalties, but he had to wait until the last rider to compete on Friday to be sure he'd won the phase.
Michael Jung won the Dressage phase
 
And it was the last rider, Allison Springer, who finished closest of all, riding her veteran partner Arthur to a score of 39.7.
 
This was the seventh start at Rolex Kentucky for Arthur, 17, with Springer, of Upperville, Va. She said this test was his second-best Rolex Kentucky test, just behind the winning ride she had in 2014.
 
"This test was close to our best, but I think that the 2014 test was a tick better," said Springer, 41. " Today I felt like I was sneaking through the walk and praying for the rein-back not to be too exciting."
 
With a refusal at fence 24 on Saturday, Springer and Arthur would finish 46th.
 
Fischerrocana FST earned a score 5 points better than she did when winning in 2015. Jung, 33, declined to compare the two scores, however. "Every competition is different, and today we had different judges than last year, and this was a different test, so it's hard to compare the tests. But I had a really good start today," he said.
 
"I'm very happy with my dressage test," Jung added. "She was very concentrated. She traveled very well to Kentucky and was very nice to ride on the last few days, so I expected her to perform well."
 
 
Dubarry Awards the Best-Dressed
 
Sinead Halpin and Joe Meyer were the first riders to win awards at the Rolex
Dubarry Best-Dressed Award Winners
Kentucky Three-Day Event. DuringWednesday evening's welcome reception, they each earned a new pair of Dubarry boots as the best-dressed female and male riders at the first horse inspection, held on Wednesdayafternoon.
 
Danny Hulse, from Dubarry of Ireland, presented the fashionable waterproof boots to them.
 
Halpin, 34, of Long Valley, N.J., wore a cream-colored sundress highlighted by a matching sun hat and a contrasting waist sash and cream-colored shoes.  Halpin rode the striking chestnut gelding Manoir De Carneville to 10th place.
 
Meyer, 45, of Ocala, Fla., rides for New Zealand, and he wore a kilt of blue, green and black tartan with a matching blue sweater and gray-blue knee socks. He rode Clip Clop to 51st place.
 
This reception, held at historic Spindletop Hall outside of Lexington, also featured the annual drawing among the competitors for a Rolex watch. Panda Christie, 40, was the only English rider to make the trip from Great Britain to compete at the Rolex Kentucky this year and she was the winner of the Rolex watch. She finished 53rd on Little Leo.
 
Prior to the event's start, four riders spent Tuesday afternoon visiting with children undergoing treatment at the Kentucky Children's Hospital in Lexington. Doug Payne, Jessica Payne, Lauren Kieffer and Allie Knowles met with the young patients at the children's hospital to bring them souvenirs from the event.
 
Doug Payne, of New Hill, N.C., found meeting the young patients for the first time especially moving.
 
"It was just amazing to come here and meet these incredibly brave young children, who are dealing with physical issues that make my worries about competing this weekend seem tiny," said Payne. "I don't know how else to describe it, except that their courage was inspiring. They're amazing kids who we'll all be thinking of from now on. It was an unforgettable experience."
           
Knowles, of Midway, Ky., visited the children for the first time last year. "I had to come back to see them again, and I hope that I brightened their day and their lives--even if it was just for a moment," she said.
 
Kristi Lopez, the hospital's director of public relations, believes that the riders' visit meant even more to the children than it did to the riders. "We really appreciate these four riders taking time while they're in town for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event to come lift our children's spirits at Kentucky Children's Hospital," she said.
 
For more information, results and photos of the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover, please visit the Rolex Kentucky website atwww.RK3DE.org.  

 

 

 



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