The last five runnings of Rolex have all witnessed dressage tests in the 30s and this year we add two more names to the list – Loughan Glen leads on 33.6 and fischerRocana FST sitting in second on 37.1. The Lucinda Fredericks record winning score of 32.3 (2009, Headley Britannia) is safe for another year.
With the dressage done, things are hotting up (in every sense). What can we expect this weekend and how many will make it to the end? Last year was a seven year high with 76.1% of the field completing the event. In 2015 just 54.1% of the field completed. Temperatures are rising – it remains to be seen what effect that is going to have today and tomorrow’s horse inspection might be worth tuning in for!
Like any four-star, the biggest question comes today across the country. On average, just 51.9% of the field has jumped clear around Rolex since 2010, with 2012 (38.9%) and 2015 (46.5%), proving exceptionally difficult years to execute a clear jumping round. However, about 1 in 6 starters (16%) on cross country day will complete clear and without time faults, a figure which sits only behind Luhmühlen (21.9%) in terms of ease of achieving the optimum time. We will learn a lot from the first horse out on course – Parker and James Allison have made the times three already at this venue and if they do so again, will join Armada (Badminton) as the only horse to do it four times at the same top level venue. If they don’t make the time, we can expect the penalties to accumulate for some of the others.
What do you need to know ahead of today’s cross country action?
The Go for Broke: Loughan Glen’s 33.6 yesterday was lower than we expected (in the top 5 dressage scores seen at this venue) but didn’t beat their personal best four-star dressage score of 33.3 (Badminton, 2014). When he runs clear across the country, he has finished within 20 seconds of the optimum time 94% of the time at three & four-star level. But in four attempts at the CCI4* level (including the Rio Olympics), he has only completed once, at Luhmühlen 2015. It is all going to be decided today for Glen, they go on course at 12.28 local time, 5.28pm over here.
The Heavyweight Champion: The reigning two-time Rolex champion fischerRocana FST has finished in the top two in five of her six four star completions. After the first phase, they sit in second place on 37.1. Their dressage average at this venue from their two previous runs was 36.8 so we are pretty much as expected. She has jumped clear XC in 6 of her 8 four stars, and been inside the time in three of them. It will a surprise if they add to their score this afternoon. They leave the startbox at 1pm local time, 6pm here. They will know what the leader has done by then.
The Big Day Performers: Qalao des Mers has been a big hit in Lexington over the past few days and currently sits in 8th on 44.6. They key thing for this pair is that they stay within two rails of Rocanna who could have poles (this pair haven’t had a rail at the highest levels since the horse’s first CIC3* at Blenheim in 2013). Qalao des Mers has only 3 three-star and 3 four-star runs under his belt, but he’s made them count, finishing first or second in four of them. Four of those starts were clear and inside the time across the country – another one today and becomes a huge player for the final day. They go at 11:08 local, 4:08pm over here.
The Wunderkid: Hannah Sue Burnett and Under Suspection are sitting in 11th after a dressage of 45.2, not quite as good as last year but still in with a shout. They have either finished within 10 seconds of the optimum time (or 30 or more seconds over it), indicating that this pair can get the time whenever Hannah chooses to push for it. They have jumped 7 clear stadium jumping rounds clear since start of last season (from nine). If she goes for the time today – this is a good chance of being an FOD. See them go XC at 12:40 local time, 5.40pm for us.
The Old Timer: Mr. Medicott’s storied four-star career began with Frank Ostholt at the Hong Kong Olympics in 2008 and spans two Olympic Games, a World Equestrian Games and five more four-stars under three legendary riders. All three riders have piloted him across the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park, and he is back for one last attempt with the indomitable Phillip Dutton. 44.8 sees them inside the top 10 after the first phase and they have plenty of clear inside the times XC already on their impressive record. Should move up today. They will be in the last three to go – 1:44pm local, 6.44pm here.
Finally, if you like to keep an eye on the clock – we have used our TSR (Top Speed Ratings) to pull the top ten speed horses: