30 April 2011

Rolex: USA's Coudray Springs into Lead After Dressage at 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Bridgestone - By Joanie Morris

Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Lexington, KY - There was one new name added to the top three riders after the dressage at the 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone, but it was an important one. Tiana Coudray made the trip from California worth the effort when she wowed the judges in the Rolex Stadium with Ringwood Magister. Their score of 40.8 leaves them with a narrow margin over Mary King, from Great Britain who lies second on 41.7. Thursday's winner, Allison Springer, holds on to a top-three placing with Arthur on 42.3.

Ringwood Magister, an elegant and flashy 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse, has excellent paces and presence. Coudray coaxed him down the ramp into the Rolex Stadium and into the electric environment, managing him beautifully in the ring.

"He'd been really good in warm up," said Coudray. "And I started down the ramp so he kind of knew something was up."

Ringwood Magister misbehaved quite exuberantly on the way to the ring and found relaxing quite difficult, but Coudray is confident that once he gets in the ring, he goes to work. "When I got him down into the ring," said Coudray, "I still wasn't quite sure which way this was going to go. But he really put it together and went to work."

Ringwood Magister floats through his test, and frequently has enough suspension to get all four feet off the ground in both the trot and the canter.  His efforts mean he also leads the way in the 2011 USEF National CCI4* Eventing Championship.

"His trot work was good, maybe a tiny bit conservative," said Coudray. "The canter, once we get there I feel confident to start showing off. His changes are good. When I got to the last two loops of the canter serpentine I think I started smiling that I'd survived it."

But it wasn't until she went down the centerline for the final time that she realized just how good a test her beloved horse had pulled off.

"It's kind of overwhelming really," said Coudray, 22, about being the overnight leader.

From Ojai, CA, Coudray began eventing in 2003 - but she has had considerable success in her short career. She was the highest placed U.S. rider at the Boekelo CCI3* last fall, finishing eighth in her first overseas CCI3*, after winning last spring in New Jersey.

King, who was just third at the Mitsubishi Motors Horse Trials last weekend, is second on Fernhill Urco, another flashy grey. He is a Portuguese-bred horse and King was very pleased with his efforts at his first CCI4*.

"I wasn't expecting quite such a good test to be honest," said veteran King.  "He's such a lovely horse. He's a friendly character, he's a real positive thinking horse...and he's got three lovely paces."

King also lies fourth on the Kings Temptress.

Thursday's winner, Allison Springer, believed that someone would go into the 30s during Friday's session, so she was very pleased to still be in the top three after the first phase. She will be first to go at 10 a.m. sharp on tomorrow's cross country. The course is designed by Derek di Grazia, who takes over after Mike Etherington Smith's tenure. Di Grazia has been battling relentless rain in Kentucky and the track will certainly take some jumping.

"It's an absolutely fantastic course," said King. "It's refreshing to come here."

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