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2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event Recap

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Young Rider’s coverage of the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is brought to you by CareCredit.

Thanks to a rail down by overnight leader Tom McEwen (GBR) on the 13-year-old German Warmblood gelding JL Dublin, a clean trip over the show jumps bumped Oliver Townend (GBR) to the ultimate win at the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L. Jumping in reverse order of standing, Townend’s clear trip aboard the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse Mare Cooley Rosalent left him in prime position as the final two to jump had rails down.

Oliver Townend celebrates his fourth Kentucky Three-Day Event victory
Oliver Townend celebrates his fourth Kentucky Three-Day Event victory. Photo by Mary Cage

This was Townend’s fourth win at the Kentucky 5*, tying him with Michael Jung of Germany. Only Bruce Davidson, Sr., has more wins, with five between 1983 and1993.

Overnight 2nd, reigning World Champion Yasmin Ingham of Great Britain riding the 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding Banzai Du Loir, had one rail down, dropping them to 3rd.

Everything’s Coming Up Oli

Believe it or not, Townend figured right off the bat this was not to be their weekend.

“I was fairly upset with myself after the dressage,” he said at the final press conference. “I thought it was going to be a bit depressing going home on that plane not having won. But I gave myself a kick into gear and said, ‘She’s an incredible galloper, there’s no excuse for being too slow.’

“After that, I had a very clear picture in my mind of what I wanted to do,” he said. “I was going to do my job and try to be competitive.”

Oliver Towend and Cooley Rosalent clear the final jump at the 2024 Kentucky Three-Day Event
Oliver Townend and Cooley Rosalent clear the final jump. Photo by Mary Cage

The mare is clearly in the right sport, with personality plus.

“She’s definitely female,” he smiled. “She knows what she wants, is pretty feisty and needs managing, but she feels like she loves her job in all three phases. I don’t think there’s any weakness. She’s one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden.”

When asked what drew him to buy the green and scrawny mare as a 4-year-old, it seems her pedigree sealed the deal.

“It’s rare you see one trot and move like she did. I found out her father was jumping a meter 60,” and her dam was an accomplished steeplechase racer, boding well for the cross-country and show jumping phases of eventing.

Also, he joked, “I like gray horses.”

Second Place … Again

Although he was surely disappointed to come in 2nd two years in a row, Tom McEwen of Great Britain always has a great attitude.

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin finish the course
Tom McEwen and JL Dublin finish the course. Photo by Mary Cage

“Dubs has been amazing this weekend. We’ve cemented our partnership; he’s a really quiet, kind character. He did the most amazing dressage, and I was gutted the mark was not as good as I thought [it would be]. He was absolutely flying on cross-country—he’s crazy special. He showed half of what he can produce in the dressage test. I know in his day he will wipe floors clean, [but I] put myself in a great position in an Olympic year.”

Close But Not Quite for Yas

After finishing 2nd in 2022, this year young up-and-comer Yasmin Ingham (GBR) had another solid podium finish in 3rd.

Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir clear a fence on their way to the finish line at the 2024 Kentucky Three-Day Event
Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir clear a fence on their way to the finish line. Photo by Mary Cage

“We had an unlucky rub on an oxer. Our day will come. I’m absolutely delighted with him, from the beginning of the week until today. He feels amazing, and we’ll go work even harder.”

Top Finisher for the U.S.

After Mia Farley had four rails down with 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Phelps (she mentioned yesterday he struggles in the show jumping phase), Lauren Nicholson moved into 5th place after one rail aboard 17-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding Vermiculus to become the highest-placed American at the Kentucky CCI5*. This is her third time earning that honor, behind only Phillip Dutton, who has done it five times.

Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus jumping
Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus were the top horse-and-rider pair. Photo by Mary Cage

“We came feeling a touch rusty,” she said. “He hasn’t had a big outing since Pratoni [FEI World Eventing Championships in 2022]. He came here to be competitive, and I would’ve liked to beat this lot! He has such a fan following and is such a character anyway.”

USA goes 1-2-3 in the CCI4*-S

Winning the CCI4*-S division was William Coleman (USA) aboard the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding Diabolo; Coleman also came in 3rd on 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Off the Record.

“I’m surprised but not shocked,” he said. “At home, [Diabolo] gave me the feeling he was on the verge of doing something big. We’ve been biding our time until he was ready to show it to the rest of the world.”

The horse had to make the Southern-Northern Hemisphere adjustment after being imported from Australia.

“We couldn’t do a whole lot with him last year, so we laid low and got to know him. That served us well. It did feel like this spring there were some good results around the corner.”

In 2nd place was two-time Olympian Boyd Martin (USA) with 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding Commando 3, and 4th place with 14-year-old KWPN gelding Fedarman B.

“I’m very blessed with the two horses,” he said. “They’re hard to split; both are very good in all three phases. It’s a wonderful position to be in with a couple of favorites—like your children, you shouldn’t have one more favorite than the other.”

The third rider to finish in the top five (with a 5th place finish) was 2023 Pan American Games individual gold medalist Caroline Pamukcu, who rode her Pan Am mount, the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding HSH Blake.

Of her young string, she said, “He’s the oldest horse I have. My other four-star horses are heading to Europe in May for the European tour. If all goes well, hopefully we’ll be looking toward the [2024 Paris] Olympics.”

Attendance for the CCI5* and CCI4* eventing combined with the Grand Prix show jumping held two nights during the event produced a new attendance record of 101,239.

2024 Defender Kentucky Three Day Event CCI5*-L Final Top 10

1. Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Rosalent
2. Tom McEwen (GBR) and JL Dublin
3. Yasmin Ingham (GBR) and Banzai Du Loir
4. Malin Hansen-Hotopp (GER) and Carlitos Quidditch K
5. Lauren Nicholson (USA) and Vermiculus
6. Bruce Davidson Jr. (USA) and Sorocaima
7. Monica Spencer (NZL) and Artist
8. Elisabeth Halliday (USA) and Cooley Nutcracker
9. Christoph Wahler (GER) and D’Accord FRH
10. Jennie Brannigan (USA) and FE Lifestyle

Find all of our coverage, brought to you by CareCredit, on our 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event landing page.

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Holly Caccamise

Holly Caccamise has been with Horse Illustrated and Young Rider since 2007, and in August 2019, she took over as head editor. She’s been instrumental in the production of both magazines and helped Horse Illustrated win a 2018 American Horse Publications Media Award in the General Excellence Self-Supported Publication (circulation 15,000 and over) category. Before getting involved in the editorial side of print media, she worked as an award-winning ad copywriter for Thoroughbred Times magazine. Caccamise has her MS in Animal Science from the University of Kentucky, where she studied equine nutrition and exercise physiology, and her Bachelor’s from UCLA in Biology. Caccamise has also worked as a research assistant, horse camp counselor teaching riding and vaulting, and as a top-level show groom in the eventing world, where she continues to compete her horse, Artie, at the lower levels.


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