The final day of the Kentucky Three-Day Event was bittersweet—on one hand, I was sunburnt, sore, and utterly exhausted; on the other, I was sad to leave the excitement and chaos that is horse show life. After a long day of cross-country and a grand prix the day before and a late night with friends at a local mexican restaurant that made all my queso dreams come true, I was thankful for the late start for show jumping day. The course was set beautifully for the media. From our designated spot in the stands (aka the one spot I could sit because my legs were jello from averaging six miles of walking with a heavy camera and massive backpack the day before) there were clear shots of the Keeneland Race Course oxer, Rolex Watch U.S.A. oxer, and the Equestrian Events, Inc. combination. A few others were easily seen but not so easily photographed, so we were able to do our jobs and watch a bit of each round.
I’ve been to my fair share of high stakes show jumping competitions, but this was like no other. Every clear round sent the ground shaking as the crowd stomped and cheered from the stands. Riders enthusiastically fist-pumped their way out of the ring while those with faults focused on praising their horses or just simply waved to the crowd. Thanks to the lack of dressage coefficient, the scores were tight after dressage and cross-country, so the leaderboard shuffled a lot this day, heightening the excitement.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know the day’s results. The great Michael Jung dropped a rail with fischerRocana, opening up the lead to Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. Although we already know he didn’t, his excitement about Kentucky was understandable at the time, seeing as he was 2/3 of the way to taking home the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
To top off the day, we were boarded onto a teeny tiny plane and the last person to walk on? A happily drunk and very sunburnt Oliver Townend.