William Fox-Pitt (GBR) won his 11th CCI4* and yet another prized Rolex watch when he held his nerve in the tense final minutes of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) presented by Bridgestone, the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™.
Fox-Pitt, the leader after Cross Country on Catherine Witt’s talented New Zealand Thoroughbred Parklane Hawk, appeared to have been handed a lifeline when overnight runner-up Allison Springer (USA) and Arthur hit a rail, but then Parklane Hawk had one down as well and Fox-Pitt was left with no margin for error.
But the current leader of both the HSBC FEI Classics™ and the HSBC Rider Rankings is famed for keeping calm in a tight situation. And Fox-Pitt will certainly need to draw on those renowned reserves of cool this week for he now heads to Badminton in the tantalising, yet pressurised, position of having won two out of three legs of the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam.
This elusive prize, to the rider who can win Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley in succession, has only been won once before, by Pippa Funnell (GBR) in 2003.
“It’s a fantastic position to be in. I’ve never managed to win two CCI4*s in a row until now, let alone three! I think it may be quite unlikely, but we will see!” said Fox-Pitt, who rides Neuf des Couers and Seacookie at Badminton next weekend.
“Parklane Hawk normally jumps a clear round, but he was kind of messing around, not really looking at the fences. He used to be very strong in the Jumping but he’s got better. He’s a big trier, and not a confrontational horse. He’s adapted to Eventing very quickly from racing – he’s is an amazing horse.”
Springer was gracious in defeat and thrilled with her horse. “I’ve worked hard on his skills and on my skills and I knew what I had to do. I think my horse has a big future – he is only 13 and so I should have him to ride until the 2016 Olympics as well!”
Boyd Martin (USA), riding the white-faced Otis Barbotiere, produced one of five clear stadium rounds over Richard Jefferies’ track, and rose a place to third, his best CCI4* result since winning Adelaide (AUS) in 2003. It was the horse’s first CCI4* and Martin said: “He’s going to be awesome in all three phases. This weekend has confirmed what I already thought about the horse.”
Karen O’Connor (USA) kept her hopes of a sixth Olympic Games alive with a great clear round and fourth place on new ride Mr Medicott. She finished on an equal score to Martin, but his faster Cross Country time prevailed.
Will Coleman (USA) completed a great weekend by finishing on his Dressage score on Twizzel in fifth, but Jonathan Paget (NZL) slipped three places to sixth on Clifton Promise with two rails down.
Paget’s fellow New Zealander, World bronze medallist Andrew Nicholson, riding the exciting young Spanish-bred mare Qwanza, rose quietly from 24th place after Dressage to seventh, with no further penalties added. This earned him enough HSBC FEI Classics™ points to propel him into second place on the leaderboard, following his second place at Pau (FRA) last year. Like Fox-Pitt, Nicholson has two good rides – Avebury and Mr Cruise Control – for Badminton where the next stage of the HSBC FEI Classics™ action takes place.
1 William Fox-Pitt/Parklane Hawk (GBR) 41.3 + 0 + 4 = 45.3
2 Allison Springer/Arthur (USA) 39.8 + 3.2 + 4 = 47.0
3 Boyd Martin/Otis Barbotiere (USA) 51.0 + 0 + 0 = 51.0
4 Karen O’ Connor/Mr Medicott (USA) 44.2 + 6.8 + 0 = 51.0
5 William Coleman/Twizzel (USA) 51.3 + 0 + 0 = 51.3
6 Jonathan Paget/Clifton Promise (NZL) 44.8 + 0 + 8 = 52.8
7 Andrew Nicholson/Qwanza (NZL) 55.8 + 0 + 0 = 55.8
8 Boyd Martin/Remington XXV (USA) 45.3 + 7.6 + 4 = 56.9
9 Marilyn Little-Meredith/RF Demeter (USA) 49.0 + 2.8 + 12 = 63.8
10 Phillip Dutton/Mighty Nice (USA) 58.7 + 0 + 8 = 66.7
11 Peter Barry/Kilrodan Abbott (CAN) 60.3 + 3.2 + 4 = 67.5
12 Phillip Dutton/Fernhill Eagle (USA) 59.0 + 0.8 + 8 = 67.8
Full results on http://www.rk3de.org/
HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012 Leaderboard (after 3 out of 6 events):
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 30
2 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 16
3 Stuart Tinney (AUS) 15
4 Allison Springer (USA) 12
5 Sonja Johnson (AUS) 12
6 Boyd Martin (USA) 10
7 Emma Mason (AUS) 10
8 Mary King (GBR) 8
9 Karen O’Connor (USA) 8
10 Natalie Blundell (AUS) 8
Full leaderboard can be viewed here.