Tim Price and Wesko fire: “I knew he had it in him”

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Tim Price and Wesko.
Tim Price and Wesko. © Anthony Trollope/FEI

New Zealand eventer Tim Price is hailing the performance of his mount, Wesko, after the combination delivered their best ever dressage score to share the lead at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

Price and Wesko scored an impressive 36.3 penalty points in front of a bumper crowd of more than 13,000 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Tim Price and Wesko are tied for the lead at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover, with a score of 36.3.
Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event joint leader Tim Price and Wesko. © Ben Radvani

“I knew he had it in him,” he said of the warmblood.

“I know he is that good, but to do it in the ring is what we have been trying to achieve. I am just elated with him really; he is such a cool horse.”

The pair, who are making their first appearance at the four-star event, are tied with Germany’s Michael Jung, who is competing two horses. His competition-leading performance was aboard La Biosthetique – Sam FBW. He holds fourth place with Fischerrocana FST.

Third place is held by Britain’s William Fox-Pitt on Bay My Hero. Fox-Pitt won the title last year.

Price, who won with Wesko at last year’s four-star event in Luhmuhlen, Germany, said: “Wesko has all the potential in the world and it does take a long time to convert that to a good performance in the ring. It is great to actually achieve it today.”

For now, he and the rest of the field are eyeing the cross country phase, with officials reducing the starting intervals between competitors and bringing forward the start time because of the risk of afternoon thunderstorms.

Price believes the course will suit him.

“At the end of the day, that is what he and I love to do the most jump, jumps and gallop around.”

Tim Price
Tim Price

Price couldn’t speculate on how the weather and the footing will affect his tactics.

“Essentially, you have to make your decisions on the fly.

“I think the ground has had enough time to recover from the rains they’ve already had here. It looks like it could withstand a fair bit of rain before it impacts the going.”

Price said he believed that Derek di Grazia, of California, had built an exceptional four-star 29-jump cross country course.

“I think it’s a great course — I love it, and I’m looking forward to riding it. Derek prepares us early, and then the questions come on,” he said.

Price said he had not really singled out Jung – the Olympic, World and two-time European champion – as the person to beat, adding that it was a very strong field.

“I came here to do what I did today.”

He said that preparation was the key to his performance on Wesko, a 12-year-old Dutch-bred gelding.

“In the last few days, I was working him in a way that would allow me to use the atmosphere in the ring today. He’s relatively inexperienced, and sometimes that can be a disruption, but the way he’s been the last few days, I thought it could work.”

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW are tied for the lead at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover, with a score of 36.3. © Ben Radvani
Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW are tied for the lead at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover, with a score of 36.3. © Ben Radvani

Jung said he was confident his horses would handle the going on the cross country, particularly La Biosthetique – Sam FBW.

“Sam is tough and has a lot of experience,” he said. “He will be good.”

Jung will be the eighth starter on Fischerrocana and the fifth-from-last starter on Sam.

He said he did not know how the rain would affect his tactics on the course.

“It depends on the weather. If we have a little bit of rain, the footing will be perfect. If it rains a lot—well, we’ll see,” he said.

Third-placed Fox-Pitt, who has won Rolex Kentucky three times, called it a strong course, but he said that he was not at all sure how the course would ride this time.

“I think it will be very interesting. In the past you’ve had a pretty good idea of how it will ride around the park, and we don’t have that this year.

“Even without the rain that they’re forecasting, the ground is quite soft, and there are combinations that require quite a lot of jumping. It will be very, very tiring.”

Competition is very tight, with less than nine points covering the top 10.

American riders are in a tight race for the next five places: Colleen Rutledge on Covert Rights is fifth (42.3); Mackenna Shea on Landioso is sixth (43.7); Laine Ashker on Anthony Patch is seventh (44.2); Lauren Kieffer on Veronica is eighth (44.3); and Marilyn Little on RF Demeter is ninth (44.6).

The first ever Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing Trophy was officially unveiled by Zara Phillips at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event.  The magnificent silver trophy standing 60cm was specially commissioned in London and features four stars at the top, with three handles, each representing the three legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing made up of Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley.
The first ever Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing Trophy was officially unveiled by Zara Phillips at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event. The magnificent silver trophy standing 60cm was specially commissioned in London and features four stars at the top, with three handles, each representing the three legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing made up of Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley. © Rolex

Britain’s Zara Phillips, individual gold-medal winner at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, withdrew her horse High Kingdom just before she was due to enter the dressage ring on Friday.

High Kingdom had kicked out and cut his right-hind leg while being saddled prior to warm-up, according to British team chef d’equipe Yogi Breisner.

He said they had hoped that it wouldn’t affect his performance, but as he warmed up it was clear the horse was not 100 percent, leading to his withdrawal.

“Basically he is fine, about an hour before he was starting his warm up for the dressage test he kicked in the stable and split the skin (in his fetlock) so he had a wound which we tended to immediately straight away, but as Zara started to warm up it was quite clear that the horse was not 100% so we made the decision to withdraw him which was very very sad for Zara.

“We made this decision in his best interest but with great sadness. Zara was very, very disappointed, especially because the horse is in great shape and she thought the course would suit him,” Breisner said.

In the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge, the combined team of Ireland, Germany, New Zealand and Australia holds the lead with a score of 121.2 penalties. Great Britain is second (136.9), the USA is third (159.9), and Canada is fourth (165.7).

The Challenge awards $20,000 in prize money while helping national teams prepare for the team competition at the Pan American Games this summer. The winning nation will be the nation with the fewest penalties after adding together the final scores of the three highest-placed individuals from that nation. The prize money will be split among the top four teams.

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