A long-awaited win, sad tragedies and the end of one great career mark the 2008 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
After five second place finishes with five different horses at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Phillip Dutton (USA) has finally won! Dutton, riding Connaught, took home a $200,000 check and a Rolex watch after winning the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, April 24-27, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.
Connaught, a 15-year-old Irish Thoroughbred gelding who is owned by Bruce Duchossios, helped Dutton seal the win by putting in a clear round in show jumping, which is the last phase of the event. Dutton’s overall score for the event was 41.7.
“(Connaught) is a great horse,” Dutton said. “He tries so hard.”
Connaught, also called “Simon,” represented Australia with Dutton at the 2006 World Equestrian Games before Dutton became an American citizen and began riding for the United States in 2007.
Dutton, who lives in West Grove, Pa., is a veteran of three Olympics (two of which were Team Gold medal efforts), three World Championships and almost every major competition in the world, yet Rolex had always eluded him—but no longer. After taking the win at Rolex this year, Dutton was named the USEF National Champion for the second consecutive year.
Holder and Ransehousen Finish In Top Spots
Becky Holder (USA) aboard Courageous Comet gave Dutton and Connaught a run for the money. Holder and her mount consistently topped the leader board throughout the dressage and cross-country competitions, but after leaving two rails down during the show jumping phase they dropped to second place with a final score of 47.3.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with my horse, thrilled with my round,” Holder said after the show jumping competition. “I’m not too sad to come second to Phillip Dutton. I expected a clear round out of Phillip. Connaught consistently jumps beautiful clear rounds. I mentally prepared for that.”
Missy Ransehousen (USA) riding Critical Decision took third place with a final score of 57.3.
“I was quite pleased with my horse,” Ransehousen said after the show jumping phase. “Usually with the crowd he gets very excited and his head goes up. My goal today was to get him through the course the best I could. I felt like we really worked together out there.”
As Dutton and Holder battled for the win at Rolex, rider Laine Ashker was seriously injured during Saturday’s cross-country phase of the event after her horse, Frodo Baggins, fell on course. Ashker suffered multiple injuries, including collapsed lungs, a badly broken jaw, broken ribs and clavicle. Fortunately, she did not sustain brain or spinal cord injuries. Ashker’s family reports that she is progressing normally and is currently in reasonably stable condition in the ICU unit at University of Kentucky Hospital.
Sadly, Frodo Baggins was humanely euthanized after the fall. According to statements, the horse received extensive care and careful evaluation, but the decision to euthanize was ultimately made in the best interest of the horse's welfare.
In a separate incident at the event, Sarah Hansel’s horse, The Quiet Man, sustained a serious shoulder injury as a result of a fall also during the cross-country phase. After much evaluation, the horse was humanely euthanized the next morning. Hansel sustained minor injuries not requiring hospitalization.
Top Officials Strive to Make Eventing Safer
USEF and USEA officials urge attendance at upcoming USEF/USEA Safety Summit.
A bittersweet moment graced Rolex this year as well. The only three-time winner of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, equine legend Winsome Adante, was officially retired in a brief ceremony during a break in Sunday’s show jumping competition.
“Dan” was retired last year after sustaining a hind leg suspensory injury. The 15-year-old English Thoroughbred gelding has been living the high life on pasture ever since at Plain Dealing Farm in Scottsville, Va., but he was brought to Rolex one last time for his official retirement ceremony.
Ridden by Kim Severson, Dan is the only horse to win Rolex more than once. The horse-and-rider had an incredible career together, winning Rolex in 2002, 2004 and 2005. They also helped win Team Gold during the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. In 2004, the pair won Individual Silver and Team Bronze Medals during the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
For more Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event coverage, visit www.rk3de.org.
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