World Champion Yasmin Ingham (GBR) was a clear and present danger coming into day two of dressage at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event in Lexington. And she made good on the threat.
The third ride of the day, Ingham and her Patroni 2022 partner, 12-year-old Banzai du Lior, came in guns a-blazing and laid down the gauntlet for the lead. Their score of 22.1 bettered countryman Tom McEwen’s score by 0.4 penalties.
“[Banzai] felt really at home in the arena,” Ingham commented in the post-event press conference. “He definitely let me ride him today, which is very important so I’m happy with that.”
Last year’s rookie has become this year’s star. With the 5* Badminton Horse Trials running next week in England, why make the trek across an ocean?
“Coming here set us up really well for our summer plans [last year] so the thought process behind that is to replicate that and have a good run here,” she explained.
Her future hopes and dreams include team selection for Paris 2024 Olympics so replicating her results from last year—Ingham finished second in Kentucky behind eventing wonder Michael Jung—may prove necessary. Great Britain is awash in 5* and senior championship winners, after all.
McEwen and Tamie Smith (USA) retain their podium positions at second and third but the rest of the top ten has shaken up ahead of Saturday’s cross country.
The last ride of the day, Will Coleman (USA) and Chin Tonic concluded 5* dressage with a fluid and consistent test to slot into fourth on a score of 25.0, accompanied by roaring cheers and applause from the crowd. Spectators turned up in record numbers—over 20,000 in the first two days, a high since 2017—and were generous with their praise as more than one horse broke into a trot on their way out of the ring.
“Chin Tonic has always been an insanely gifted mover and athlete,” Will remarked. “But producing him as an eventer has been a patient process.”
At 11 years old, the gelding is making his high anticipated 5* debut. Eyes are on Coleman for a potential win. If he achieves it, he would be the first American winner of the event since 2008 when Phillip Dutton (USA) won with Connaught.
Between the top four, Equiratings Prediction Centre has Ingham at a 28% win chance, McEwen at 25%, Smith at 16%, and Coleman at 11%. All have above a 30% chance of a top 3 finish. Time penalties on tomorrow’s eleven minute and twenty-six second cross country course will make or break the podium.
Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Miks Master C scored a 26.9 in the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood’s 5* debut for fifth place. Pratoni team silver medalist Boyd Martin (USA) and veteran mount Tsetserleg TSF slot into sixth with a 28.3. Buck Davidson Jr (USA) and Carlevo positively danced to the tune of 28.4 and the audience’s cheers.
Five star cross country begins at 1:20 pm EST around Derek Di Grazia’s track. Forecasts are showing cloudy but dry conditions around a course riders are describing as respectful and in which no one combination sticks out. But in the words of third placed Tamie Smith, “[Derek] always has something up his sleeve that no one really knows until they’re out there.”