Michael Jung of Germany became the second rider to win the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Rolex, on the same horse in two consecutive years by riding Fischerrocana FST to a 13.3-point victory. His winning score (39.2) easily bested Lauren Kieffer on Veronica (52.5) and Maya Black on Doesn’t Play Fair (53.9).
In addition to the iconic Rolex watch that goes to the winner, Jung will take home first prize of $110,000.
Kim Severson on Winsome Adante is the only previous partnership to record consecutive Rolex Kentucky victories since it became a CCI4* in 1998 is. They won in 2004 and 2005, after also winning in 2002.
Prior to that, when Rolex Kentucky was a CCI3*, Bruce Davidson Sr. won it in 1988 and 1989 on Doctor Peaches. Davidson also won Rolex Kentucky in 1983 on J.J. Babu and 1984 on Doctor Peaches, and he won the 1978 World Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park on Might Tango.
“I am normally not a man of many words or so much drama as this weekend has been,” said Jung 33. “I have to thank all the people behind me and my horses. It’s a success of the whole team. Every horse in my stable horse has had a part in it.”
In addition to Fischerrocana, an 11-year-old German-bred mare, Jung’s stable includes numerous international-level event horses, as well international-level show jumping and dressage horses.
Now Jung’s attention turns to the third leg of the Rolex Grand Slam, the Badminton Three-Day Event in England, which begins on Wednesday, May 4. His mount there, La Biosthetique Sam, on whom he won the 2010 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, was due to arrive at Badminton on Sunday. Jung planned to fly out of Cincinnati early Monday morning to meet him there Monday afternoon.
If Jung wins Badminton, he will become only the second rider to win the lucrative Grand Slam—the winner earns $350,000in the 16-year history of the prize. Pippa Funnell of Great Britain is the single previous winner of the Rolex Grand Slam, in 2002-2003.
The key to winning Badminton and the Rolex Grand Slam, said Jung, is to ride like it’s a normal event. “I think always the same thing when I go a championship or a four-star event. I say to myself, ‘This is a normal competition.’ I try not to change anything. It’s important to win, but it’s important that you have a good feeling for the horse and that you have a good ride.”
Kieffer climbed from sixth place to second place by adding just 1 time fault to her score. That propelled her up the standings when the four horses in front of her faulted, including Phillip Dutton’s third-placed horse, Mighty Nice, and his second-placed horse, Fernhill Fugitive. Dutton finished fourth on Mighty Nice, fifth on Fernhill Cubalawn, and 13th on Fernhill Fugitive.
For Kieffer, 28, of Middleburg, Va., second place made her the winner of the Rolex USEF Four-Star Championship for the second time, again on Veronica. Kieffer also finished 18th on Landmark’s Monte Carlo, with 20 show jumping faults.
“Monte Carlo exceeded our expectations yesterday and had a learning experience today,” performing in front of the jam-packed Rolex Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, said Kieffer. “But Veronica is better the more atmosphere she has. It lights her up a bit, and she tries harder.”
Black, 28, of Clinton, Wash., and Doesn’t Play Fair, an 11-year-old U.S.-bred Holsteiner, lowered one jump to move up one place from their two-phase standing. “He’s kind of a pain in the barn, but he’s a great little horse who comes to work everyday,” said Black of her 15.2-hand partner.
Kieffer and Dutton led Team USA to victory in the DuBarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge, scoring 178.5 faults. Their score handily eclipsed New Zealand (238.0) and the combined team of Australia, Germany and Great Britain (298.5).
Sunday’s attendance was 25,545, bringing then weekend’s total paid attendance to 82,100.
Known as the “Best Weekend All Year,” the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover is the nation’s premier Three-Day Event and one of the most prestigious equestrian competitions in the world.
The Fédération Equestre Internationale (International Equestrian Federation – FEI), the world’s governing body of equestrian sports, has designated the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event as a four-star eventing competition, the highest designation, which is given only to the World Championships and six annual events around the world. “Rolex Kentucky” is the only four-star event in the Western Hemisphere.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event will be broadcast on NBC on Sunday, May 8, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. EDT.
Equestrian Events, Inc. is a non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation that was established initially to produce the 1978 World Three-Day Event Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the success of those championships, EEI established an annual event that evolved into the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover.