Day three of the Kentucky Three-Day Event was by far my favorite—cross-country day! After two long days of dressage, I was ready for some action at the Horse Park.
Thanks to being there as media, we were lucky enough to ride along with Derek di Grazia, the course designer, as he explained his thought process for the course and what he thought was the ideal track through some of the more complex questions. At every jump we stopped at I has to resist the temptation to blurt “holy shit, that’s huge” in front of everyone. But when we approached Pete’s Hollow and Derek said, “It may not look it from here, but it is quite steep on the way out,” I almost lost it because I don’t know what he saw, but it looked pretty damn steep from where I was. Overall, the impression was that the course was technical with easier options that would really eat up the clock and that the footing was just about as perfect as it could get.
Thanks to the pushing back of the start time, we were able to get a bit more sleep and still make it to the event with time to spare. Choosing to start at opposite ends of the Park, we split up and I stationed myself at 18ab and 19ab, aka the Land Rover Head of the Lake. The crowd grew pretty quickly over the hour I was there before the start time of 11AM, but with my photographer bib I had pretty clear shots from the media areas.
I stuck around there for about an hour, leaving for another fence soon after Michael Jung and fischerRocana had the much talked about mishap over the brush corner at 18b. From where I was, the man had a split second of “oh crap” as Rocana gathered herself and then carried on as if nothing happened, like the powerhouse team they are.
The next complex I found myself at was the Rolex Grand Slam Challenge, which was 10abc. This is probably where I got some of my favorite photos and I really only had a good view of the first element, a roll top/drop into the water type thing. This combination seemed easier for most riders, though I did see one take the alternative route through it.
From there I headed toward the jump 9, the Ditch Brush, to meet a few friends who were also there. My lens was a bit too long for this one, but it was nice to just watch some of the riders instead of taking photos.
The final fence I was at was the Trakehner at 20. With only eight fences left but eleven efforts total, it was clear which horses were tiring and which still had a lot of go left in them. Being a relatively “boring” jump compared to the others in the area, this one didn’t have many people nearby, so I stayed until the last rider rode by.
At the end of the day, I was beyond happy to hear the announcement of no horse falls and only a few rider departures. The last big three-day event I attended didn’t end as well, so the news lifted some nerves I didn’t even know I was holding on to.
To wrap up the day, the Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix started shortly after cross-country finished. (Photos of this to come soon, but sadly my time to sort through them all has been nonexistent.) The event was sold out and, as expected, the stands were full. This was such a fun way to finish off an exciting day and gave a hint at what was to come for the final phase the next afternoon.