Townend on Top!

©Michelle Dunn Photo

Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Master Class lost a shoe on Saturday, but held on to their lead at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington!

The defending champions tackled Derek di Grazia’s challenging 5* cross country course, the second of the Irish Sport Horse’s career, with pricked ears and determination.

“[Master Class has] come out a lot keener this time than last time and he felt quite strong for him in places,” said the world number one ranked rider.

“But he was definitely up for it. When he made up his mind on something, he felt more in control than I was. He knew his job today . . . It didn’t matter the distance, his ears were pricked and his legs were out of the way.”

Despite losing a shoe midcourse, Townend and the 14-year-old gelding produced a clear, finishing just three seconds over the time to add 1.2 penalties to their dressage score.

“I was very conscious of not having the shoe on and he had a bit of a slip turning back into the main lake,” admitted Townend.

“I felt like I was balancing more than I normally would, I was not trying to pick up big distances, just trying to keep him in balance all the while being a touch more conservative than normally.”

Townend and Master Class advance to tomorrow’s show jumping phase on a score of 25.3. If they can produce a clear round, as they did last year, he will become the first British rider in history to win back-to-back Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event titles.

Boyd Martin (USA) and Tsetserleg moved up the leaderboard into second on 27.9. Rolex Grand Slam contender Tim Price (NZL) sits third with Xavier Faer on 30.9. Just 8.2 penalties separate the top five athletes.