Townend Delivers a Master Class in Kentucky

©Michelle Dunn Photo

Great Britain’s Oliver Townend is one-third of the way to successfully defending his Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event title with Cooley Master Class.

The 2018 winners danced to the top of the leaderboard in Lexington on Friday with a dressage score of 24.1. It’s a new personal best for the pair and a 4.6 point improvement over last year (28.7).

“Today, Cooley Master Class was very good and it’s very nice to be in the lead after dressage,” said Townend of the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse.

“I was happy with his performance. I’ve had the horse since he was four years old. He knows me and I know him, and how to go have a clear round and press the right buttons, and he did a very good test today.”

Now the world number one ranked eventer just has the tiny issue of Derek di Grazia’s cross country course to contend with on Saturday, which, he concedes, may be a slightly bigger challenge. But like, pfffft, no biggie.

“It always amazes me how much the course does change from year to year and even questions that you didn’t think everybody managed to get 100% right last year have disappeared and a new question arrives,” Townend said.

“I’m a huge fan of Derek’s courses. I think he’s exceptional at what he does, and he has a real knack for knowing exactly what works for distances in combinations and also what a horse can see in terms of the lines. You can walk one of Derek’s course and think ‘how can they see that,’ and they lock on and turn like they are on rails. 

“(However), this course is, I think, as tough as I’ve seen here and I think you need to be switched on every step of the way,” he continued. “You could have an easy blip without doing much wrong. It’s a true five star test, and definitely not a dressage competition. It’s a proper job from start to finish.”

Countryman Piggy French and Quarrycrest Echo moved into third with a score of 27.1. American Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg is third on 27.9. Yesterday’s leader, Felix Vogg of Switzerland now stands fourth on Calero with a score of 28.0.