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Andrew Nicholson has taken control at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event this morning after two brilliant clear cross country rounds putting him into first and second.
The world’s number one ranked eventer sits on his dressage scores of 38 penalty points aboard Quimbo (owned by Deborah Sellar) and 40.8 on Calico Joe. Team-mate Jonelle Richards and The Deputy (owned by Lucy Sangster and Mr and Mrs Tim Morice), in their first-ever Kentucky start, are seventh after an impressive clear cross country, with just 2.4 time penalties, to sit on 55.1.
Nicholson had plenty of praise for Quimbo, rating the cross country this morning in their first four star start together as probably his “most exciting ride ever”.
“He is unbelievable,” said an elated Nicholson. “For the first time at this level, he is just amazing.”
Calico Joe also made the cross country look easy, but Nicholson says he expected that from one of his more experienced mounts.
“It’s been a great day for the sport. The weather conditions were ideal for riding cross country, the grounds are superb and the horses just love to gallop on it.”
Nicholson had promised he he would be riding Quimbo like a “hardened four star performer with a chance of winning”, and he did just that.
But there were still challenges aplenty for others on the Derek di Grazia-designed cross country course. Of the 42 starters, seven were eliminated and five retired – including overnight leader William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain) aboard Chilli Morning.
The show jumping tomorrow morning (NZ time) will decide the winners, and Nicholson says he “expects” Quimbo to do his job, although it is a discipline that sometimes challenges Calico Joe.
Sitting in third spot behind Nicholson’s two horses is Buck Davidson Jnr (USA) with Ballynoe Castle RM who has 45.2, with Fox-Pitt and Sea Cookie TSF on 46.2 in fourth, giving the Kiwi a rail in hand.
Nicholson is chasing not just victory at Kentucky, but points in the HSBC FEI Classics series, which he is currently leading.
The Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event is the Western Hemisphere’s only four star three day event. It features the world’s best horses and riders vying for their share of $US250,000 in prize money as well as the chance of winning $US350,000 for anyone who can win Kentucky, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and Land Rover Burghley Four Star Events in succession.
For more information on the event, head to www.rk3de.org.