EN’s Official Form Guide to the Horses and Riders of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*

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Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is only days away! Here’s everything you need to know with the official form guide from our sister site, Eventing Nation:

It’s the best Monday of all the eventing Mondays: the start of Kentucky week!

We’re gearing up to bring you our traditional wall-to-wall coverage of the #BestWeekendAllYear, and what better way to officially kick the party off than to launch our Form Guide, chock full of all the info you need to know on each pair competing in the CCI5* (and plenty you just didn’t need to know, too).

Shelby Allen, Tilly Berendt, Amanda Chance, Cheg Darlington, Diana Gilbertson, Allie Heninger, Veronica Green-Gott, Cassidy Oeltjen, Abby Powell, Sally Spickard, and Gillian Warner contributed to this Form Guide.

Want to jump straight to your favorite horse and rider? Click the links below to jump to their section (the combinations are listed below in alphabetical order by last name; sections are ordered by draw number):

35: James Alliston and Nemesis
15: Sandra Auffarth and Viamant Du Matz
42: Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo
14: Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135
39: Zachary Brandt and Direct Advance
18: Kirsty Chabert and Classic VI
46: William Coleman and Chin Tonic HS
25: William Coleman and Off The Record
44: Bruce (Buck) Davidson Jr. and Carlevo
1: Bruce (Buck) Davidson Jr. and Erroll Gobey
23: Bruce (Buck) Davidson Jr. and Sorocaima
12: Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26
41: David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed
37: Cornelia Dorr and Daytona Beach 8
5: Phillip Dutton and Z
4: Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way
10: Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z
32: Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C
26: Emily Hamel and Corvett
28: Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir
8: Erin Kanara and Campground
6: Alexandra Knowles and Morswood
27: Maxime Livio and Carouzo Bois Martin
31: Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF
9: Boyd Martin and Contessa
36: Andrew McConnon and Ferrie’s Cello
20: Tom McEwen and JL Dublin
19: Lauren Nicholson and Landmark’s Monte Carlo
38: Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent
43: Doug Payne and Quantum Leap
21: Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit
30: Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights
2: Jennie Saville and Twilightslastgleam
24: Jennie Saville and Stella Artois
45: Jennie Saville and FE Lifestyle
29: Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancando
16: Tamra Smith and Mai Baum
34: Sydney Solomon and Early Review CBF
22: Zara Tindall and Class Affair

Buck Davidson and Erroll Gobey. Photo by Shelby Allen.

1: Buck Davidson and Erroll Gobey (USA)
Thirteen-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cassini II – Ulla II, by Contender). Bred by Ralf Luetje. Owned by Cassandra Segal, Natalie Sandler, and Lisa Darden.
Groom: Kathleen Murray and Erin Ferrell

For the second year in a row, Buck has drawn lucky number #1 and will perform pathfinder duties on the least experienced of his three rides. Having had multiple trips around the course every year since 2013 (and at least one ride most years, for as far back as we can remember), it’s safe to say that Buck will be up to the challenge.

Erroll Gobey’s lack of 5* experience has some context: he moved up to the Advanced level in 2018, and wrapped up both the 2018 and 2019 seasons with completions at Fair Hill International. And then a little thing called COVID derailed everyone’s plans. Erroll Gobey finished the-year-that-was-socially-distanced with a 13th place finish in the 4*-L at Tryon International. The horse showed his greenness at the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky when a blip at the water resulted in Buck retiring on course. The pair then ramped up for the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, but were forced to withdraw after Buck fell from Carlevo.

The 2022 season was also sporadic for the pair, with an entry submitted to Kentucky but an eventual decision made instead to head to the Tryon International Spring CCI4*-L. There, a parting of ways on cross country ended their weekend early. Buck and Erroll Gobey closed out the year on a high note, with a 10th place finish at the Morven Park International CCI4*L.

This year has started well, with a win in the Advanced at Rocking Horse Winter II and a second in the Advanced at Stable View. Hopefully this strong start will mean that the third time they’ve entered Kentucky will, in fact, be the charm, and the experienced Buck will get the 13-year-old his first 5* completion.


Jennie Brannigan and Twilightslastgleam. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

2: Jennie Saville and Twilightslastgleam (USA)
Thirteen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (National Anthem xx – Royal Child xx, by Northern Baby xx). Bred by Nina Gardner. Owned by Nina and Tim Gardner. Groomed by Hannah Black.

Born and bred right here in the United States by owner Nina Gardner, Twilightslastgleam comes forward as Jennie’s third entry of the weekend and her first to ride. “Comic” has been with Jennie almost since the beginning – from his first USEA Young Event Horse outings all the way to his 5* debut at Maryland last fall. In the YEH series, Comic was top ten in the East Coast Championship both as a four- and five-year-old.

We can expect a dressage score in the mid-to-low 30s from this partnership. A full Thoroughbred, Comic has plenty of blood to rocket him around the cross country, and he finished inside the time in his debut. Sunday will be a very big challenge for the copper-colored chestnut as he historically has at least one or two poles come down in the final phase.

Comic will be Jennie’s pathfinder and the second horse out on cross country. His fan club will, as usual, include Nina and Tim Gardner as they cheer on their homebred. The Gardners have been breeding Thoroughbreds for more than 40 years, and Comic possesses blood lines have been in their breeding program since the early 1980s.


Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

4: Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way (USA)
Twelve-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Mighty Magic – Straightaway, by Star Regent xx). Bred by Mareike Leers-Schreiber. Owned by Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables. Groomed by Christina Curiale.

No stranger to big tracks, Mama’s Magic Way (better known as “Mason”) will be stepping into the Horse Park to make his fourth career start at the CCI5* level. This will only be Mason’s second time at Kentucky though, where he made his 5* debut in 2021 to finish in 14th place. Since then, he’s also added Maryland and Badminton to his resume, helping cement Will and Mason as one of the best cross country pairs in this field. In their entire FEI career together, they have only had a single cross country jump penalty – a pin at the 2021 Maryland CCI5*.

Looking at Mason’s pedigree, you could say that he was certainly born for this job. The striking dark bay gelding is a son of two eventer parents – Mason’s sire Mighty Magic (also represented in this field by another offspring, Miks Master C) won the Seven-Year-Old Eventing World Championships in 2011 with Andreas Dibowski, and his dam Straightaway competed to the CCI4* star level herself.

Will discovered Mason through a friend, who saw the horse in Dibo’s barn and thought he might be a good fit for Will. After a quick trip to Germany to try him, Will knew immediately that Mason was The One – “from the moment I sat on him, I knew he was my horse.” While the match seems to have been made in heaven, it hasn’t been without its challenges, particularly due to Mason’s enthusiastic personality. “I often describe him as a three-year-old little boy at Disney World on a sugar high,” Will says. “To be honest, I think we are very similar personalities and really good friends.”

A CCI5* veteran, Will brings his wealth of experience with him to Kentucky, having made a dozen starts here with six different horses. His previous best finishes have been in 2006 where he placed sixth with Antigua, and 2013 where he placed sixth with Pawlow. If Will can keep the lid on Mason between the white boards and keep the rails in the cups on the final day, this pair could potentially see themselves very well-placed on the leaderboard by the time all is done and dusted.


Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

5: Phillip Dutton and Z (USA)
Fifteen-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Asca Z – Bella Bouche B, by Babouche vh Gehucht Z). Bred by A.M.C.M van Bezouw. Owned by Z Partnership. Groomed by Grace Harris and Olivia Dutton.

Both Phillip and his Kentucky ride, Z (2019 USEA Horse of the Year), know what it’s like to move to the U.S. Z started off in Portugal, where he was ridden by first Francisco Seabra and then Duarte Seabra up to CCI1*, whilst Phillip, who was born in Australia, made the trip in 1991, changing nationality to ride for the U.S. in 2006. A seven-time Olympian (he won team gold for Australia in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000, and individual bronze with Mighty Nice for the USA in Rio in 2016; he was sixth with the U.S. team at Tokyo 2020 with Z), and multiple-time World Championships and 5* rider (he finished 13th with Z at the WEG in 2018 as the highest placed American), Phillip’s no stranger to the Kentucky Horse Park, having ridden there almost every year since 2002.

Z is no Kentucky first-timer either. He finished eighth in the 5* in 2021, jumping clear cross country and show jumping, adding just 5.2 time penalties to complete on 35.5; he was seventh in 2019 with a double cross country clear, but an unusual two poles down in the jumping. In 2018, he finished on his dressage score for fourth place. Naturally a bit of a perfectionist, with his try-hard attitude and Phillip in the saddle, Z will be looking for the flags the whole way ’round the Derek di Grazia course, and we’re expecting them to be climbing the leaderboard come cross country day.


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Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

6: Alexandra Knowles and Morswood (USA)
Fifteen-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding (Ricardo Z – Princess in Arms, by Present Arms xx). Bred by John Doherty. Owned by Katherine O’Brien. Groomed by Katie Hagerty.

This weekend will be Morswood’s fourth CCI5* with Lexington-based Allie Knowles. Morswood was originally produced through the 2* level by Great Britain’s Piggy March before the reins were handed to Piggy’s then-stable jockey, Ireland’s Susie Berry. With Susie, the gelding contested the Young Rider European Championships in 2017, proving there how quick and competitive he could be across the country.

Since pairing up with Allie, who’s also known for tackling the biggest courses in the world with her OTTB Sound Prospect, Morswood has picked up some exciting results. They went to Maryland in 2021 for Morswood’s first 5* after some of his best performances at CCI4*-S in Unionville and the CCI4*-L at Jersey.

The duo then threw their hat in the ring for Kentucky in 2022, cutting their trip short after an unfortunate fall for Allie at the Mighty Moguls. However, the team bounced back for an eighth place finish in the Maryland 5* in 2022, setting them up well for Kentucky this year.

As if riding at the 5* level wasn’t impressive enough, Allie doesn’t just produce horses and compete – she’s also a USEA ECP trainer, helping her students achieve their own goals, and a young mom. Typical multitasking that we see in a Pony Clubber – she’s an A graduate of Sierra Gold Pony Club.

Looking forward to their performance in Kentucky, we’ve seen the pair score right around the 30 mark in dressage (though they can go sub-30!). Historically, they’ve had a couple of rails down in the show jumping, but now into their fifth year as a partnership, they certainly know how to perform well under pressure.


Erin Sylvester and Campground. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

8: Erin Kanara and Campground (USA)
Sixteen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Forest Camp xx – Kneel xx, by Pulpit xx). Bred by R. Alex Rankin & Louis Wright. Owned by Marnie Kelly. Groomed by Amy Faison.

Erin Kanara’s unraced but track-trained Thoroughbred “Gideon” is unique, not only in that he’s one of just five full Thoroughbreds competing at Land Rover, but also in that he has a second job as an adult amateur ride for owner Marnie Kelly. Marnie found Gideon while horse shopping in Lexington in 2010. At that point in time, his breeder, Churchill Downs Chairman Alex Rankin, had been told not to waste his money running him on the track and had sent the horse to Sloane Charlton-Hord for rehoming as a three-year-old.

Marnie originally asked Erin to introduce the ex-racehorse to the sport. “I asked Erin to please train him a level above me so when I go out I can just have fun and be nice and safe,” she told Paulick Report last year. “Well, he went way above me.”

Gideon has never had a cross country penalty at the 4* and is on track to hold to that record for his 5* career. He’s relatively new at the 5* level, having just made his debut at the top of the sport at Maryland last fall, and finished 15th. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for this pair tearing it up on the cross country course.

[Watch more on Erin, Marnie, and Gideon in our interview at Maryland last year]


Boyd Martin and Contessa. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

9: Boyd Martin and Contessa (USA)
Fourteen-year-old Holsteiner mare (Contender – Veritas, by Esteban). Bred by Lars Bienengraeber. Owned by Club Contessa. Groomed by Stephanie Simpson.

Boyd’s CCI5* debutante of the year comes in the form of the German-bred mare Contessa. The Olympic veteran has had the ride on the Holsteiner mare since she was five, having found her in Germany thanks to Philipp Kolossa.

Boyd has really taken his time developing this mare, spending a few years at the Intermediate level, and completed one Advanced in the fall of 2020, but didn’t compete in 2021, so her education at that level began in earnest in the spring of 2022. Contessa is relatively inexperienced at the CCI4*/Advanced level, with only eight starts at the level to her name, but she couldn’t ask for a better jockey to show her the ropes.

This pair was recently fourth at Stable View CCI4*-S, showing growth and maturity between that and their 12th place finish at the CCI4*-S at Carolina International. They have yet to break the sub-30 mark in dressage at that level, but they’ve come very close. Contessa is a very reliable jumper, and rarely has a rail or a jumping fault on cross country, but we don’t expect she’s quite ready to deliver a dressage score that will threaten the top placings — in time, though, with a secret weapon like Silva Martin in the wings to coax the most talent frome ach horse in Boyd’s string.

Breeding Facts:

  • Same sire as Tim Price’s Vitali and David Brittnell’s Continuity
  • 57% blood
  • Has a full sister, Maya, that has competed to 3*-L level with Boyd Martin/Michael Pendleton


Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

10: Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z (USA)
Fifteen-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zapatero – Zonne-Trend, by French Buffet xx). Bred by J. Zilverberg. Owned by The Monster Partnership. Groomed by Isabel Turner and Mia Braundel.

U.S. eventing’s speed freak, Liz Halliday-Sharp, is no stranger to high-adrenaline sporting activities, having been a professional racing driver before swapping vehicular horsepower for that of the flesh and blood variety. She’s been a team representative for the USA on numerous outings, was the first woman since 1981 to be named USEA Eventing Rider of the Year in 2020, and between 2020 and 2022, she had the most international wins in the world.

Liz will be piloting the experienced Deniro Z round the CCI5* track. With Liz from the beginning of his career as a seven-year-old, “Niro” has had wins and top placings at every level. His first 5* came at Luhmuhlen in 2018 where he finished eighth; the following year he completed his first Burghley in 15th place. After a mishap in the cross country at Kentucky in 2019, they came back in 2021 to finish tenth. They had moved up to fifth after a cracking cross country round (Liz describes him as a “Ferrari”), but two poles and 0.8 time in the show jumping dropped them back down the leaderboard.

Niro is a bit of a happy-go-lucky character, excitedly flapping his lips when he greets Liz each morning. They’re good friends and it shows in the ring, where it’s clear that no matter what, he’s trying his heart out. We can expect a mid-20s to low-30s dressage and a climb up the leaderboard after cross country, all being well. Watch out for them at the horse inspection too, as Niro is notorious for finding it all incredibly exciting. Whatever happens, we’re sure he’ll deserve his banana treat at the end of the day.


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Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

12: Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26 (GER)
Fourteen-year-old Polish Sporthorse gelding (Moravia – Babilonia xx, by Jape xx). Bred by Roman Drabinski. Owned by Susanna Dibowski. Groomed by Andreas Dibowski.

The youngest rider at the World Championships in Pratoni last year in her German senior squad debut at 21, Alina Dibowski comes forward with long-time partner Barbados 26, or “Baba” as he’s known at home. With a bunch of experience moving up the levels, they know each other inside out, and it’ll be interesting to see how they find the step up to their first 5*. Most recently they’ve had success in Strzegom (Poland), taking the win in the 4*-S where they added just 8 cross country and 0.4 jumping time penalties to their dressage to finish on 39.7. Eighth after dressage and fifth after jumping — will we see a similar climb up the Kentucky leaderboard?

The pair are very capable of a sub-30 dressage; they sometimes creep into the low 30s, but they’ve been as low as 24.4 at 3* and 25.2 at 4*. Add that to the likelihood that they’ll be clear across the country – between the summers of 2018 and 2020 they had no cross country jumping penalties on their record – and the fact that, on the occasions they don’t manage to make the time, they generally add just a handful of penalties, this is a partnership that’s one to watch. Show jumping is the most inconsistent of their phases – they’ve posted everything from clear to 16 faults, so the chances are they’ll have a rail and maybe a time fault or two, however they’ve also shown that, on their day, they are capable of finishing on their dressage, as they did in the 4*-S at Le Pin au Haras last year for third overall.

Inspired by her dad, four-time Olympian and team gold medalist Andreas Dibowski — who’ll be grooming for Baba as he did in Pratoni — to make the trip to Kentucky, Alina’s main goal for the competition is to enjoy every second. That’s not to say she’s not ambitious, but she knows that being present and appreciating the experience are all part of being successful. She describes entering Kentucky as “a huge adventure”. Alina says that Baba is very loyal and knows when it’s important to put his best foot forward. Their bond is strengthened by the fact that, at home, Alina looks after Baba herself – she says the gelding isn’t just her sporting partner, but is a treasured member of her family. Safe to say, she’ll be following her dad’s advice for her riding – to be safe and simply do her best.


Woods Baughman and C’est la Vie 135. Photo by Shelby Allen.

14: Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135 (USA)
Fifteen-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro – Anette, by Aarking xx). Bred by Christa von Paepcke. Owned by Kim, Jay, and Woods Baughman.
Groom: McKenzie Regan

Heading to the Kentucky Horse Park probably feels like a homecoming for Woods Baughman, who originally hails from the Lexington area. Woods’ first glimpse of eventing came at this very event about twenty years ago when his grandfather brought him to spectate. It didn’t take long after that for him to begin dreaming of jumping around that track himself one day.

That dream came true last year as Woods made his five-star debut here at the tender age of 25 with C’est La Vie 135, also known as “Contendro.” Unfortunately it didn’t go quite to plan, scoring uncharacteristically high in the dressage and collecting run outs across the country. A second crack at the level at the Maryland 5 Star last fall yielded a better finishing score, but still not the showing we know the pair to be capable of.

A personification of horse sport in general, Woods and Contendro have had some high highs and low lows together in their competitive career. While the quirky bay Contendro – who he found in Germany while spending a year working with Dirk Schrade – hasn’t been the easiest to bring along, their achievements along the way have been particularly triumphant. In 2019 they won the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship and they followed that up two years later by winning the CCI4*-L National Championship in 2021.


Sandra Auffarth and Viamant du Matz. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

15: Sandra Auffarth and Viamant du Matz (GER)
Fourteen-year-old Selle Français gelding (Diamant de Semilly – Heralina X, by Voltigeur le Malin X). Bred by Roger Sevette. Owned by Nikolaus Prinz von Croy.

What a treat to welcome three-time Olympian and prior World Champion Sandra Auffarth to the Kentucky Horse Park for the first time!

An extremely experienced member of the very dominant force that is Team Germany, Sandra has ridden for her country at each and every Olympics and World Championship since 2012. Riding her breakout star Opgun Luovo, Sandra collected Olympic team gold and individual bronze medals in London, followed by team silver in Rio de Janeiro. Between those Olympic medals they were also crowned 2014 World Champions, where their top-of-the-podium finish clinched a team gold medal as well.

Joining Sandra in the bluegrass is Viamant du Matz who may not (yet) have all the accolades of his antecedent stablemate, but has certainly been no slouch. “Mat” and Sandra were named as reserve combinations for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, represented Germany at the Tokyo Olympics, and then contributed to Germany’s team gold medal at the World Championships last year in Pratoni, Italy.

Senior championships aside, Mat has an impressive array of top finishes at European CCI4*-S events in particular, most notably a win at last year’s Aachen CCIO4*-S, but this will be the gelding’s first appearance at the 5* level. Watch for Mat to most likely lay down a high-20s or low-30s dressage score, perhaps have a smattering of time penalties across country, and then very possibly jump clear on the final day.


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Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

16: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum (USA)
Seventeen-year-old German Sporthorse gelding (Loredano – Ramira, by Leoni). Bred by Gunter Gerling. Owned by Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell. Groomed by Savannah Gwin.

We all missed our favorite “black stallion” at last year’s Land Rover, but not to fear – he simply had other big plans to gear up for. Earning ninth at both Badminton and Pratoni in 2022, Tamie and “Lexus” were far from shorted despite their absence, and as Equirating’s field favorite for the win at 14%, we can expect quite the show from this partnership. The pair have taken a top-ten finish in all but three of their completed runs, with quite the impressive FEI passport thus far at 27 international events. Certainly eleven first-place wins must be some kind of record, and we all saw this little machine coming when five of those were earned consecutively at the 1* and 3* levels.

The eye-catching German-bred gelding is well-known for his big heart and even bigger personality, with a slew of “stable quirks” longer than his competition record and a fanbase more loyal than the royal family’s. After owner Alexandra Ahearn showed “Lexus” through the 2* level nearly nine years ago, his potential was already clear. “Alex, who was by then a working student for Tamie Smith, made the decision to stop riding and pursue her college education,” co-owners Ellen and Eric explain. “She broke the news to Tamie one evening by saying, ‘I’ve got something to tell you, and I think you’re going to like it.’ Alex asked Tamie to ‘take over the ride’ of Mai Baum and for us, the rest is history.”

Tamie and Lexus are coming in hot off a win at the Galway Downs International CCI4*-S last month, where Tamie not only stole the blue, but the second and fifth place prizes as well with Ruth Bley’s Danito and Julianne Guariglia’s Solaguayre California, respectively.

Tamie can also be spotted in this weekend’s 4*-S lineup on Solaguayre California and Elliot V, along with her daughter, Kaylawna Smith-Cook, who is riding MB MaiBlume in the 4*-S. Since traveling as the reserve pair for Team USA at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Tamie certainly has her sights set on their next big feat together, and we can easily count them in the running for our potential 2023 champions. We can surely allow that any horse holding fewer dropped poles than years in international competition is well within their limits, and Lexus is no exception. Adding this to their near-spotless cross country record and dressage scores on a consistent low-20s trend, will this be the pair to finally bring us a long-awaited American victory?


Kirsty Chabert and Classic VI. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

18: Kirsty Chabert and Classic VI (GBR)
Fourteen-year-old Anglo European Sporthorse mare (Calvaro F.C – Indian Summer). Bred by Peter Charles/Pembers Hill. Owned by Carole Somers, John Johnston, and Kate Ward. Groomed by Sarah Jane Tetlow.

2022 did not get off to a particularly good start for these two; their Badminton debut ended agonizingly close to the cross country finish, with an elimination after accumulative run outs at the double of corners, three quarters of the way round. This was frustratingly reminiscent of Aachen 2021, where they led after dressage only to drop out of the placings after a late run out.

Determined as ever, Kirsty sought help from Dickie Waygood and Christopher Bartle, spending an intensive three days cross country schooling with the latter at his base in North Yorkshire. It paid off: the pair notched up a win in the CCI-4*S at Millstreet just a month later. They then headed to Luhmühlen 5* just a few weeks later, notching up an impressive second place and earning them a spot on the World Championships long list for Great Britain.

Kirsty, who hails from strong equestrian stock – her father rode around Badminton and her mother competed in Grand Prix dressage – has made no secret of the fact that “Betty” is one quirky mare. Bred by Peter Charles, she rarely does any work with her in the arena. Instead, she spends her time hacking around the New Forest, with as little pressure as possible, in order to keep her happy and sane.

Expect a quick cross country round – they won at Millstreet with just 5.6 time penalties, one of only two competitors inside the time – and although she sometimes tips a pole in show jumping, she is more than capable of leaving them all standing, and with a dressage score that tends to hover around the 30 mark, Betty and Kirsty could well feature in the top twenty – or ten.


Lauren Nicholson and Landmark’s Monte Carlo. Photo by Abby Powell.

19: Lauren Nicholson and Landmark’s Monte Carlo (USA)
Seventeen-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding (Formula One – Glamour xx, by Flash Tycoon xx). Bred and Owned by Ms. Jacqueline Mars.
Groom: Sally Robertson

Would you ever enlist the help of an animal communicator to understand your horse better? Lauren Nicholson opted for this back in 2019, when she was regularly struggling with Landmark Monte Carlo’s (“Patrick” or “Patty”) show jumping. On recommendation from Cathy Wieschhoff, Lauren contacted an animal communicator, who told her that the gelding’s lack of confidence stemmed from a fear of being judged. With this information, Lauren tweaked her routine and saw Patrick’s confidence grow. It’s a cool story — you can read the whole thing on The Chronicle of the Horse — and now Lauren and the homebred of Ms. Jacqueline Mars are headed to their fourth CCI5* together. The Irish gelding began his eventing career in 2010 with Hannah Sue Hollberg first and then Lauren starting mid-2011. From the Novice level on, Lauren and Patrick have been together. They were inside the top 20 at the Maryland 5 Star last year and will look for a solid finish in their second start at Kentucky this weekend.


Tom McEwen and JL Dublin. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

20: Tom McEwen and JL Dublin (GBR)
Twelve-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Diarado – Zarinna, by Cantano). Bred by Volker Göttsche-Götze. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. Lambert and Mrs. D. Johnston. Groomed by Adam Short.

The Equiratings Prediction Centre is currently showing an 11% win chance for this pair, second only to Tamie Smith and Mai Baum on 14%. Given the horse’s career statistics to date, it might not be a bad shout, and especially so given that he has an Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist on his back.

This is only his second 5* start – his last was at Badminton last year with the wonderful Nicola Wilson, which sadly ended in disaster after Dubs had an uncharacteristic fall, leaving Nicola with life-changing injuries and ultimately resulting in her retirement from the sport. Together, Nicola and “Dubs” had amassed an incredible roster of results, not least of which a fifth place in the Seven-Year-Old World Championships in Le Lion D’angers in 2018, a win in the notoriously tough Bicton CCI4*-L in 2021 (on only his second start at the level), and most impressively of all, becoming European Champion later that same year in Avenches – all as a ten year old, I might add!

JL Dublin’s cross-country jumping record is barely marred, and his form has remained just as strong since Tom took over the reins last year; they won the Open Intermediate At Cornbury House International on only their second outing together, before a second place at Boekelo in the 4*-L to round off their season. With dressage scores that average mid-low 20’s, and an impeccable jumping record, with just a pole off once in a blue moon, this is very much a pair to be watching this weekend… and no doubt Nicola will be cheering her beloved Dubs on from across the pond too!

Fun fact: The JL prefix to his name stands for the first initials of his owners’ – Jo and Jamie Lambert and Deirdre Johnston – surnames. You learn something new every day.


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Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit. Photo by Shelby Allen.

21: Jessica Phoenix and Wabbit (CAN)
Thirteen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Line of Departure xx – No Kissing xx, by Great Gladiator xx). Bred by Molinaro Stable. Owned by Jessica Phoenix and Charlotte Schickedanz.
Groom: Lisa Barry

Named to the 2023 Equestrian Canada High Performance National Squad and certainly one of Jessie’s top prospects for Paris, the ex-racehorse Wabbit is certainly one to keep an eye on this weekend. This is a tough guy who simply relishes a challenge; his first taste of the Kentucky Bluegrass was at the 2021 Lexington CCI4*-S, where he trounced around with only time added on a mucky cross country day and eventually finished tenth. Jessie and Wabbit did part ways here last year, but they rebounded well and finished in the top 20 at Maryland to cap off 2022. “He’s always been such a gifted cross country horse,” Jessie described at Maryland. “He hunts the flags and he’s so brave, and he’s a full Thoroughbred, so the galloping is fairly easy for him.”


Zara Tindall and Class Affair. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

22: Zara Tindall and Class Affair (GBR)
Fourteen-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding (Obos Quality 004 – Ruby’s Rosshaven Flight, by Laughton’s Flight). Bred by Maurice O’Brien. Owned by Gleadhill House Stud LTD. Groomed by Jason Wood.

This will be “Socks” and Zara’s second trip stateside; they contested Maryland CCI5* back in 2021, although a pesky 20 penalties on the cross country dropped them out of contention and they finished in 30th place. Indeed, the Obos Quality 004 gelding has not had much luck thus far at the 5* level; he was eliminated on his Burghley debut in 2019, and Zara made the decision to retire after a run out at the Leaf Pit there last year, too.

Zara refers to him as “the mad guy”, due to his sheer strength cross country – something which often sees him run into trouble. Still, she continues to persevere – such is her unwavering in the horse – and he has proven her right on more than one occasion, with a win in the Advanced at Chatsworth in May 2022 and a respectable twelfth place at Boekelo in the CCI4*-L later that year.

Despite his checkered cross country form, his dressage scores are ever improving – they posted a personal best of 28.4 at Burghley 2022. Zara trains with Carl Hester and Amy Woodhead, and sends her horses to Amy in the winter months to further hone their skills in the first phase. Although the Great British weather has put paid to most of their attempts at prep runs for Kentucky, they did finish up 22nd in the CCI4*-S at the Spring Carnival of Eventing at Thoresby last month, after a steady, clear cross country, and an annoying two colored poles. Indeed, his show jumping record is as sporadic as his cross country; although he often rolls a pole or two, he has left them all intact on many an occasion too, showing just what an enigma he must be to ride and train!

Ultimately, if she can keep Socks on side in the jumping phases, this could actually prove a happy return to Kentucky for Zara: she was third here back in 2017 with High Kingdom, and the horse certainly has it in him. Here’s hoping he can keep the madness under wraps for long enough to make it count, and prove his rider’s faith in him is more than justifiable. If anyone can get the best out of a horse, it is the former European and World Champion, and I for one will be keeping everything crossed that the stars align and Socks finally pulls off the result he is capable of.


Buck Davidson and Sorocaima. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

23: Buck Davidson and Sorocaima (USA)
Twelve-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Rock Hard Ten xx – Sankobasi xx, by Pulpit xx). Bred by Machmer Hall & Poindexter Thoroughbreds. Owned by Buck Davidson.
Groom: Kathleen Murray and Erin Ferrell

As the son of eventing legend Bruce Davidson, Buck has probably spent more time at the Kentucky Horse Park than any of the other competitors – crawling, walking, riding – so he is no stranger to the lay of the land. Doesn’t it just seem fitting that he returns this year with Sorocaima, a 12-year-old Kentucky-bred Thoroughbred?

Last year, “Cam” dipped his toes into the 5* water with a completion at Kentucky, leaving room for improvement as he continues to mature and gain strength. He upped his game in the Fall at the Maryland 5 Star, where he burned around cross country clear and under the time, and had two down in the show jumping – the phase that has been notoriously hard for him to conquer.

The lead up to the #BestWeekendAllYear has been a little quiet for this pair, with slow rounds in the Intermediate at Rocking Horse Winter I and the Advanced at Chattahoochee Hills and withdrawing after dressage at Rocking Horse Winter II and after show jumping at The Event at TerraNova.

While his dressage and show jumping scores are trying to trend better, Buck will be relying on that Thoroughbred cross country power to move this horse up the leaderboard.


Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois. Photo by Abby Powell.

24: Jennie Saville and Stella Artois (USA)
Fifteen-year-old Hanoverian mare (Satisfaction FRH – Comtess, by Contender). Bred by Herman Holscher. Owned by the Stella Artois Syndicate. Groomed by Tyler Held.

What a delight it is to see Stella Artois back at the CCI5* level. We last saw the lovely “Toddy” at Maryland in 2021 where she and Jennie finished fourth as the second-highest placed Americans. It was at that event where Toddy sustained an injury to her front right leg that sidelined her for the entire 2022 season. After rehabbing and resting at Nina and Tim Gardner’s beautiful Pennsylvania farm, Toddy is back in form.

Jennie first met Toddy as a five-year-old at Philipp Kolossa’s farm in Germany (also where Boyd Martin met one of his two rides, Contessa), and she’s brought her along since Novice level. Their best 5* dressage came at Maryland in 2021 with a score of 28.5, and her other two performances haven’t been more than two points off that mark. Stella’s a bold cross country horse too, though she hasn’t yet completed at Kentucky; however, if her previous long-format results are any indicator, she’ll add a point or two of time at the finish flags. Jennie will be feeling pretty good with this ride on Sunday. Toddy rarely breathes on a pole, and rarely has one drop in international competition.

While successful in her own right, Toddy also has a string of foals coming along via embryo transfer. Stella Royale is one of them, and she’s competed through the Preliminary level.


Will Coleman and Off the Record. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

25: Will Coleman and Off the Record (USA)
Fourteen-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding (Arkansas VDL – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio). Bred by Peter G Brady. Owned by Off the Record Syndicate.
Groom: Hailey Burlock and Erin Jarboe

As the first American pair to ever win the prestigious CCIO4*-S at Aachen, Germany, a feat they accomplished in 2021, Off The Record and Will Coleman hardly need an introduction anymore. But that’s practically old news at this point, nor is it the sole reason that Will and “Timmy” have reached American eventing hero status: last year they helped Team USA clinch a silver medal at the World Championships in Pratoni, Italy, also finishing in the top ten individually.

“Timmy” has been a member of Will’s stable since he was a four-year-old, sourced through Richard Sheane of Cooley Farm. While he’s made a number of Will’s dreams come true at this point, he hasn’t always been the most pleasant to ride or easiest to bring along, but he sure has made up for it with his heart. Will told EN after his Aachen win that he believes Timmy embodies what an event horse is all about: “He’s a real fighter. He’s not the most physically gifted, but he comes out every time and gives you 1000%, and those kind of horses, you keep giving them chances and they eventually become champions, because that’s what they’re made of inside. I think he’s that kind of horse.”

The gelding blossomed as he reached the 4* level, boasting ten top-five finishes across his FEI record in both long and short events. His dressage marks are consistently in the high-20s to low-30s, occasionally dipping lower, and his biggest nemesis is the occasional rail or two in show jumping. While well-traveled and decorated at 4* level, this will be just the third appearance for Timmy at the 5* level. Both previous runs came here at Kentucky in 2021 and 2022, each time finishing within the top 15.


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Emily Hamel and Corvett. Photo by Shelby Allen.

26: Emily Hamel and Corvett (USA)
Sixteen-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Corrido – Tina XII, by Clearway). Bred by Doris Schimmer. Owned by Black Flag Option. Groomed by Isabel Lopez.

Known for his impressive jumping style, Emily Hamel and Corvett are an experienced partnership, and are coming off of a year abroad where the pair contested both Burghley and Badminton.

Going into their fifth CCI5* competition, this duo has been consistent in their high-30 dressage score, typically hovering around a 37 or 38. While their dressage scores might not be at the top of the pack, we see the pair shine in the jumping phases. Of the starters, “Barry” may have one of the most iconic jumping styles – his preferred method is leaving roughly a foot of breathing room between himself and the fence. As it’s never fazed Emily, instead of trying to fit Barry into a certain mold, she worked to make his jumping style successful. “It’s just the Barry style. It’s unique for sure, but it gives me a great feeling. I feel like you could just jump anything, but it takes some getting used to,” she says.

Thanks to his impressive jump, he’s had only one jump penalty on cross country at the 5* level, at Badminton in 2022, which seemed more of an odd blip in their record. However, having seen the pair ride a double clear cross country to a fourteenth place finish at Maryland in 2021, and most recently with a top-twenty finish at Burghley in 2022, we’ll be keeping an eye on how their work abroad serves them in Kentucky!


Maxime Livio and Carouzo Bois Marotin. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

27: Maxime Livio and Carouzo Bois Marotin (FRA)
Eleven-year-old Selle Français gelding (Kannan GFE – Orchidee de Mai, by Flipper d’Elle). Bred by Ophelie Mouflet. Owned by S.C. Soixante Seize Et Compagnie, Gilles Saiagh, and Celine Fronteau.
Groom: Mathilde Montginoux

This will be a second CCI5* for the supremely talented and gusty Carouzo Bois Marotin, who stepped up to the level last fall at Pau, finishing seventh after rocketing up the leaderboard nearly 30 places following cross country. Dressage would be the phase the French Olympian has focused on this winter, remarking at Pau that he knew the gelding was well-capable of a sub-30 score at this level. On cross country, you wouldn’t want to bet against Maxime on the clock — and having the experience at Pau, where he felt the gelding still pulling on the bridle as he came through the finish, he’ll know he can really test the mettle and go for a competitive finish. It should go without saying that riders boarding a plane for Kentucky are coming with a primary goal: to return home with a winner’s purse in hand. While Maxime will have his eyes on Paris with his top horses, you can be confident he won’t leave his cards on the table with this young talent.


Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

28: Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir (GBR)
Twelve-year-old Selle Français gelding (Nouma d’Auzay – Gerboise du Cochet, by Livarot). Bred by Pierre Gouye. Owned by The Sue Davies Fund.
Groom: Alison Bell

It’s a World Champion in the building! We’re honored to have British 2022 World Championships individual gold medalist Yasmin Ingham and her incredible French-bred partner, Banzai du Loir, joining us for a second year in Kentucky. Yasmin came close to taking the prize here in 2022, finishing second to Michael Jung in Banzai’s first CCI5*. Just 12 this year, it’s hard not to think this horse has yet to hit his performance peak — could a 5* win, and perhaps later an Olympic medal be added to their ever-growing collection? Stay tuned.

Yasmin is a successful product of the British pipeline as well as the Wesko Foundation, coming up through the junior ranks to win the 2013 Pony European Championships as well as four British Championships titles (Under-16, Under-18, Under-21, Under-25). She met longtime owners, the late and loved Sue Davies and her daughter, Jeannette Chinn, in their mutual homeland on the tiny Isle of Man on some sort of happenstance after her mother, Lesley, wrote the former a fan letter.


Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancando. Photo by Abby Powell.

29: Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancando (USA)
Sixteen-year-old Anglo European Sporthorse gelding (Lancer II – Fancy II, by Langata Express xx). Bred by Millfield Stud. Owned by Booli Selmayr, Kelly Morgan, and Jacqueline Thorne.
Groom: Ana Kussero-Lair and Rocco Blaine-Henderson

2022 brings a return trip to the Bluegrass State for New York native Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancando, after making their debut here last April. “Lance” came to Booli via fellow eventer and veterinarian Dr. Kevin Keane, having done some competitions at Preliminary previously. Booli produced the “gentle giant” (he’s one of the largest in the field at 17.1 hands) from his first international events up to this top level. They finished 25th at Kentucky in 2022 but will be looking to improve on that mark for this second go.


Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Abby Powell.

30: Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights (USA)
Seventeen-year-old Draft Cross gelding (BFF Incognito – Let’s Get It Right xx, by Covert Operation xx). Bred and Owned by Colleen Rutledge.
Groom: Ciana Rutledge

Covert Rights is a familiar face on a 5* entry list, making his seventh start at the level this year with Colleen Rutledge. It’s more than safe to know this pair knows each other like a couple of old friends at this point, having done all of the production herself with this part-Clydesdale gelding. Show jumping would be the biggest challenge for this pair — they’ve had a weekend here and there end early due to too many rails down — but Colleen will have put in the prep to come into this weekend in the best form. This pair finished 11th here in 2015 and would love to have a solid and competitive outing this year.


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Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Shelby Allen.

31: Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF (USA)
Sixteen-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall – Thabana, by Buddenbrock). Bred by Tim Holekamp. Owned by Christine, Thomas, and Tommie Turner. Groomed by Stephanie Simpson.

Honestly, do we even need to introduce Thomas? This tough little horse is unassuming at home, but when it comes to big events, he knows how to put on a show. “He can be a mediocre performer at the barn, but he loves his job and turns it on at shows,” says Thomas’ owner, Christine. “He would do anything for his rider – if he likes them – and he loves Boyd.”

2019 was his year in the sun, with a second place finish here at Kentucky and an individual and team gold at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. This pair was part of the silver medal winning team at the World Championships in Pratoni last fall, as well as competing in the 2018 World Championships and the 2021 Olympic Games. They were fourth at Kentucky last spring, and Boyd is certainly chasing that elusive 5* win.

Thomas is perfectly capable of delivering a dressage test in the mid-20’s, and will be up in the mix after the first two days. His cross country is as reliable as they come (we’re still scratching our heads about a very unusual parting of ways here in 2021). Thomas has always struggled with consistency in the show jumping, and didn’t have the finish he wanted in Pratoni with four rails down, but he has jumped clean on the last day before, so it’s not entirely impossible. The good news is that nobody is more determined and hardworking than Boyd, and he will do everything in his power to give this little black horse wings on Sunday, including the enlistment of Olympic show jumper Peter Wylde as Boyd’s jumping coach.

The 2022 fourth place finishers, 2019 second-place finishers – and USEF National Champions – are among the highest hopes for a home-nation win. The “funny little character” is a consummate showman, and while he tends to economize in his performances in training, he knows exactly when he needs to rise to the occasion – and that’s when his adoring fans are watching. This year, they’ve got one international run under their belt: they ran in the CCI4*-S at Tryon, finishing fourth.

A rail on Sunday is a little more likely could be the deciding factor if we see a tightly-packed bunch at the top end of the leaderboard come Sunday. A top-five finish feels almost certain, though.


Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

32: Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C (USA)
Eleven-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic – Qui Lumba CBF, by Quite Easy). Bred by Laurie Cameron. Owned by Ocala Horse Properties and Deborah Palmer. Groomed by Isabel Turner and Mia Braundel.

If event horses had walk-up songs there’s no doubt that Miks Master C (known in the stable as “Mickey”) would be strutting into the ring to “Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind”… because, well… he is, and he does.

An 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, Mickey was bred right here in the USA by Laurie Cameron, also the breeder of Sydney Soloman’s mount Early Review CBF. Mickey’s sire and dam were both event horses themselves, and Mickey got his early start in Phillip Dutton’s barn before finding his way to Maya Black. Maya brought the gelding up through the CCI4*-L level with many top placings, including a win at the CCI4*-S at Rebecca Farm in 2021.

Liz Halliday-Sharp acquired the ride in 2022, and together the pair have certainly hit the ground running. They’ve won three of their seven FEI starts together, placing second at another and top five at two more, including the CCI4*-L at Boekelo last year. While this will be Mickey’s first start at the CCI5* level, his rider certainly has a wealth of experience to bring to the table, as well as a lot of confidence in her mount, saying, “He is a phenomenal horse, full stop. I think he’s probably the best horse I’ve ever had.”

If any of the first-timer horses stand a real chance to win the whole shebang, certainly Liz and Mickey should be well up there as a favorite pair. Expect them to be well-placed after dressage; speedy, skillful Liz is certainly capable of keeping him there throughout the other two phases and has done her homework in her preparation to ensure she can ride quickly, but still with control, on Saturday. Liz, along with several other riders in the field, also works with Peter Wylde for show jumping and credits Erik Duvander for much of her steady success in the cross country phase.


Sydney Solomon and Early Review CBF. Photo by Shelby Allen.

34: Sydney Solomon* and Early Review CBF (USA)
Fourteen-year-old Hanoverian mare (Earl – Lois Lane CBF, by Le Primeur). Bred and Owned by Laurie Cameron. Groomed by Emma Ford.

Sydney will be tackling Derek di Grazia’s formidable course onboard the fourteen-year-old Hanoverian mare, Early Review CBF, bred in the U.S. and owned by Laurie Cameron. Sydney has had the ride on Early Review, or “Coco”, for nearly a decade now. That close connection and familiarity will be a great weapon in their arsenal as they make the move up to the top level of the sport. The pair has had a strong start to the 2023 season. So far, they’ve tackled Chattahoochee Hills, Three Lakes, and the recent CCI4* at Stable View, with a personal best dressage score achieved at Chattahoochee Hills.

Dressage has always been Coco’s weakest phase, as the mare has a tendency to throw a buck in the flying changes. Despite this, if Chattahoochee is anything to go by, this pair can offer some stiff competition as long as Coco can keep her heels down. Sydney’s goals for her first 5* are to go clear and not be too far off the time. Going clear should be well within Sydney and Coco’s reach, as the pair has an excellent cross country record, with few jumping faults.

Coco and Sydney will have a secret weapon in their back pocket to guide them through the weekend: experienced 5* groom, Emma Ford. Hopefully Emma’s experienced hands will help Sydney achieve her goals.


James Alliston and Nemesis. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

35: James Alliston and Nemesis (USA)
Nine-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding (Novalis – Maesy BC, by Musing xx). Bred by Ferne L Johnson. Owned by Alliston Equestrian. Groomed by Mia Roeser.

You may remember this chestnut gelding as the third-place participant of the three-way Alliston cleanup at last year’s USEA American Eventing Championships. A first place CCI4*-L finish a month previously at Rebecca Farm had been just as expected after a stellar season together, with the competitive nine-year-old holding just two finishes outside the top five since their Preliminary debut in 2020. Nemesis takes to the ring this weekend not only for his CCI5* debut, but also as the youngest horse in the field. The pair just scored their lowest FEI dressage score to date at their most recent competition, the Twin Rivers Spring International CCI4*-S, at a 29.2 – their first sub-30 at an international event – and left with a first-place victory only two time faults over their dressage score.

After purchasing Nemesis as an unbroke yearling sight-unseen from breeder Danielle Burgess in British Columbia, James and Helen Alliston were elated when the easy-going gelding was named as the 2021 USEA Seven-Year-Old Intermediate Leaderboard Champion. “We are really proud of him,” James said of the award. “He is our baby and he is really part of the family here. We are just excited that we have such a nice horse and that he has done so well.” Helen was the first to sit on Nemesis’ back after raising him on their farm, and the pair clearly hold a special place for him in their hearts.

Since his college years of flying back and forth between his UK home and Bruce Davidson’s Pennsylvania base before finally landing in California, James has established a heavy presence on Area XI’s circuit. He and Helen have fully committed to “carving out a path on the West Coast”, and he has eleven runs around Kentucky’s CCI5* to prove it. After a four-year 5* hiatus, James returned to Land Rover’s dressage ring last year with Helen’s gelding Paper Jam (Paparazzo – Reely Jamin xx), but ended up withdrawing the night before cross-country. Despite this unfortunate setback, his partnership with Nemesis resulted in a third place finish in the 4*-S. With a flawless cross country fault record, and pulling only a mere five show jumping rails throughout his whole career, we can likely expect quite the show from this promising young horse’s 5* debut.


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Andrew McConnon and Ferrie’s Cello. Photo by Shelby Allen.

36: Andrew McConnon* and Ferrie’s Cello (USA)
Eleven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Chello III – Karelza, by Wolfgang). Bred by J. Sneller. Owned by Jeanne Shigo. Groomed by Natalia Knowles.

It feels like a long time coming for Andrew McConnon’s first Kentucky CCI5* appearance. After running his first Advanced nearly a decade ago, he will bring all the experience he gained in those 10 years to pilot Jeanne Shigo’s Ferrie’s Cello around Derek di Grazia course.

“Eddie”, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood, came to Andrew’s barn as a young Preliminary horse with loads of physical talent and a bit of a “mental code” that needed cracking. Andrew carefully developed the horse, eventually making the move up to Advanced in 2021.

A successful 2022 season ended with a fourth place finish at the Morven Park 4*-L, after top-ten placings at the Bromont CCI4*-S and the Tryon International Spring 4*-L. Despite a couple of learning experiences on the road to Kentucky, Andrew will be coming into his long-awaited debut in a clear-headed mental space, ready to deliver his best in order to give Eddie a strong ride in all three phases.


Cornelia Dorr and Daytona Beach 8. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

37: Cornelia Dorr and Daytona Beach 8 (USA)
Thirteen-year-old Oldenburg mare (Duke of Hearts – Sandance, by Santander H). Bred by Dr Rolf Lueck. Owned by HCS Syndicate. Groomed by Claire Ertel.

Cornelia and Daytona spent their 2022 season in England, training with Kevin McNab at his yard in Surrey, England. Highlights of their season include a place on the silver medal-winning U.S. team in the FEI Nations Cup at Houghton International and their fairytale 5* debut at Burghley where they finished tenth, having climbed the leaderboard from 50th to 16th (!) place after dressage, thanks to a super speedy clear cross country, before rising another six places to tenth after the show jumping.

No pressure coming into what is only their second-ever 5* then! Previously campaigned by German rider Sandra Auffarth, and sourced for Cornelia by Dirk Schrade, the 13-year-old Daytona is a reliable jumper – both across the country and in the show jumping arena, but Cornelia has spoken openly about the fact that she struggles to cope with the atmosphere between the white boards. In fact, she did consider selling her earlier in her career, such was her frustration with her flatwork. Luckily, a year with Kevin McNab dispelled any such thoughts, and Cornelia has found the key to Daytona is that “everything has to be her choice!” A mare that needs to be in charge… surprise, surprise!

With a dressage score that sits around about the 40 mark, Cornelia will be looking to improve on their personal best of 39 at Burghley, but likely won’t be troubling the leaders after the first phase. Don’t discount them altogether though, as more often than not their reliability in the jumping phases sees them scoot right back up the leaderboard, a la Burghley. Such was also the case at the Nations Cup at Houghton International in May 2022; they were the drop score for Team USA after dressage, posting a mark of 42.7, but their clear show jumping and fast cross country saw them reinstated, finishing individual 15th and contributing to a second place for the U.S. team, too. They will no doubt rise to whatever challenges Derek di Grazia has in store for them out on course.


Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent. Photo by Libby Law.

38: Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent (USA)
Seventeen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Quiet American xx – Edey’s Village xx, by Silver Deputy xx). Bred by Eugene Melnyk. Owned by Meghan O’Donoghue & William Duhring.
Groom: Emma Tuit

There’s nothing quite like a Thoroughbred — a notion Midwest native Meghan O’Donoghue knows all too well. After stamping herself firming on the map and in the hearts of OTTB lovers with her first 5* partner, Pirate, Meghan now has another top-class former racehorse in the 16-year-old Palm Crescent. Sharing a sire with Kentucky Derby winner (and nearly Triple Crown winner) Real Quiet, “Palmer” is one who lives for cross country day — especially the beefy long-formats where Meghan really opens the throttle. This pair skipped across the pond in 2022 to compete at Burghley and were enjoying an absolute treat of a round when they ran into a disappointing blip on cross country. This year, Meghan and Palmer are coming off a clean run at TerraNova’s CCI4*-S and will be looking to see if she can beat out last year’s 11th place finish.


Zachary Brandt and Direct Advance. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

39: Zachary Brandt and Direct Advance (USA)
Twelve-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding (Night Cruise – Herbst Jennie B, by Concorde). Bred by Noel Good. Owned by Direct Advance Syndicate LLC.
Groom: Max Corcoran

Zach Brandt very nearly made it to Kentucky back in both 2014 and 2015 with super mare Cavallino Cocktail, but the stars never quite aligned and Zach’s 5* debut was put on hold. Later in 2015, Zach made the tough decision, one which many young riders looking to forge their path must make, to sell the beloved mare who brought him up through the levels in order to launch his business and seed his career in the sport.

That tough decision paved the way for this weekend as Zach finally makes his way to Kentucky with Direct Advance, who was purchased as a four-year-old after Cavallino Cocktail’s sale. Zach’s coach, Jon Holling, found the striking chestnut for him in Europe through Mike and Emma Winter. Since then, Zach has brought “Roscoe” along from his first ever event to the top of the sport.

While the pair technically made their 5* debut last fall in Maryland, they still seek a completion at the level as Zach retired “Rosco” after just fence 9 on cross country due to the gelding sustaining a nosebleed. This weekend they’ll be hoping to notch that elusive completion and return back to their base in Florida as an official 5* pair.


David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

41: David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed (GBR)
Twelve-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Carambole – Sjaloma, by Harcos). Bred by J.W. & A.P. Jurrius. Owned by Gillian Jonas. Groomed by Kirsten Poulsom.

Galileo Nieuwmoed is one of those horses that make our hearts go a little gooey, but it was far from love at first sight for David, who initially said it wasn’t the horse for him. Fast forward to today and David had admitted “Galileo” is “really cool”. As an eight-year-old, he tackled his first CCI4* at Le Pin au Haras in 2019, adding nothing to his dressage of 33.3 for second. At his first 5* – Pau 2021 – he was 15th, with a double clear cross country but a couple of poles in the show jumping. The following year, the pair burst onto the Badminton leaderboard, finishing sixth with David the highest-placed Badminton first-timer. It was jumping clear all the way, adding just 1.2 cross country time faults to their dressage of 32.4.

In his last four FEI runs, Galileo has come first, second, fourth and third, the fourth place coming in the 5* at Pau last year, where he was one of only four to make the time cross country, coming in at nine seconds under the optimum. Consistently clear cross-country jumping (the only penalties on his record are a blip the Bicton pop-up 5* in 2021), and big, bold, scopey, and speedy to match, David acknowledges the time he’s spent on fitness work is paying off, saying that the more he’s asked of Galileo, “the better he’s got”. According to David, Galileo might look a little grumpy, but all he wants is for everyone who passes by to stop for a chat, and to blow on his nose.

Having come through the Junior and Young Rider teams, medaling multiple times, David’s 5* debut came at Pau in 2018 and he completed his first Burghley in 2019. After his recent top form, and such a spectacular performance at Badminton last year, he’ll be one to watch on cross country day. Fun fact: when David’s not eventing, you’ll find him working with his dad at their ice cream company.


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Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

42: Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo (CAN)
Nineteen-year-old British Sporthorse mare (Jumbo – Polly Coldunnell xx, by Danzig Connection xx). Bred by Mrs. S. Dunsden. Owned by Hawley Bennett-Awad. Groomed by Maralee Paul.

We are always big fans of watching a seasoned mare conquer her way around this course, and Jollybo is no exception. At 19 years young, Jollybo’s FEI competition record is longer than some of the lifespans of her opponents, and she has certainly shown her experience in the ring. Most recently taking a top-five finish in last year’s Rebecca Farm CCI4*-S, two-time Olympian Hawley Bennett-Awad has hit all corners of the map with the cheeky British Sporthorse mare, consistently traveling to the East Coast and internationally. The California-based Canadian Team member partnered with “Jolly” in 2016 after the bay mare was produced through the CCI4*-L level by British rider Justine Dutton, and have continued their international circuit since, including a mid-pack placement at the World Championships in Pratoni last year. Between competitions, Hawley can be seen offering a wide coverage of lessons and clinics across the country, all while continuing her own education from top riders, including long-time mentor Buck Davidson.

Hawley’s star-studded history has seen amazing success with previous mounts, earning 15th place in both the 2003 Pan American Games and the 2005 FEI World Cup, as well as seeing her first Olympics in 2004 with her Thoroughbred gelding, Livingstone. She and Terry and Linda Paine’s Gin & Juice, to whom Jollybo shares a striking physical resemblance, shared nine CCI4* competitions together over their successful ten-year partnership, including the 2012 London Olympics and her first two World Equestrian Games. She and her Canadian Team partners earned a silver team medal at WEG in 2010, and returned once more in 2018 with Jollybo at Tryon. “Jollybo’s an interesting little horse,” Hawley notes. “In some pictures, she looks like Ginny, but [unlike Ginny] she’s dead quiet and I have to kick a bit. But she’s very straightforward on cross country. Whatever you point her at, she’s going to jump it.”

Hawley describes Jollybo as a dream to ride, albeit sassy and opinionated – but what else would you want in a little mare? She has worked hard to keep Jolly “Five-Star Fit” over the years, and has clearly done well – the mare is still keeping up with the kids these days. They do tend to pick up a handful of time on course and have been consistently producing hard and fast showjumping rounds with a couple pole drops; however, their dressage scores together have continued to age like fine wine, with Jollybo earning her two personal bests within the last year. The pair has also seen no cross country jump faults since 2018, so we look forward to seeing how they fare this year.


Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

43: Doug Payne and Quantum Leap (USA)
Twelve-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Quite Capitol – Report to Sloopy xx, by Corporate Report xx). Bred by Elizabeth Callahan. Owned by Doug and Jessica Payne.
Groom: Sam Cuomo and Sheridan Pipkin

Tokyo Olympian Doug Payne will be focusing all his energies on one entry this year (as well as one in the CSI3* Invitational show jumping competition and one in the Lexington CCI4*-S): the reigning Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L National Champion Quantum Leap. “Quantum” came into Doug and his wife Jessica’s program as a yearling, bred by stalwart U.S. breeder Elizabeth “Didi” Callahan (want more? read more on Quantum Leap’s breeding in The Blood Mare: America’s Overlooked Advantage). Quantum’s purchase as a wee one was a part of a long-term plan to bring along a new crop of horses for the top level after the sale of Doug’s former top upper-level campaigner, Crown Talisman, in 2014.


Buck Davidson and Carlevo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

44: Buck Davidson and Carlevo (USA)
Sixteen-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Caresino – Ramatuelle, by Levernois). Bred by May Thomas. Owned by Katherine O’Brien.
Groom: Kathleen Murray and Erin Ferrell

There are few horses in the field who can match the frequent-flier miles of Carlevo. The 16-year-old gelding is a stalwart in Buck’s string, with the pair racking up nearly forty runs at Advanced/CCI4* in eight years of partnership.

Joining Buck’s program by way of Germany’s Dirk Schrade, they have traveled the world together, contesting at Aachen, Blenheim, Bromont, Millstreet, Tattersalls, and Boekelo. Their strong partnership really the 5* stride in 2022 with a fifth place finish at the Land Rover Kentucky and a twelfth place finish at the Maryland CCI5* at Fair Hill. A consistent competitor on day one, Carlevo hasn’t scored above the 20’s since 2020, and is coming off his personal best score at the 4* level, receiving a 22.5 at Stable View’s Spring CCI4*-S where he ultimately finished fourteenth with a handful of time on Saturday and two rails Sunday.

Besides Stable View, the spring has been a little quiet for this pair, with an easy run around the Intermediate at Rocking Horse Winter I to finish third, and a cruise around the Chattahoochee Hills Advanced to finish fourth.

Carlevo will be the last to go of Buck’s three rides, but hopefully someone is packing the Red Bull. Buck will really put the pedal down on Saturday, hoping to inch closer to finishing inside the time – a feat that has eluded them thus far at this level, although they came thisclose at Maryland. It seems they are just as likely to have a few rails Sunday as they are to go clear, so here’s to hoping he has his springs loaded as well.


Jennie Saville and FE Lifestyle. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

44: Jennie Saville and FE Lifestyle (USA)
Thirteen-year-old German Sporthorse gelding (Leo von Faelz – Berina A, by Bradenburger). Bred by Danny Arnold. Owned by Nina and Tim Gardner. Groomed by Alexa Lapp.

Jennie Saville (neé Brannigan) brings forward three entries to this year’s edition at Kentucky. Nina and Tim Gardern’s FE Lifestyle will be her anchor ride and the penultimate horse on course Saturday.

The rider has referred to “Foxy” as the “best cross country course I’ve ever ridden,” and he’s stepped up for Jennie at the 5* level three times before, getting a more competitive result with every finish. He was 24th in his debut here in 2021, sixteenth in 2022 and most impressively fifth at the Maryland CCI5* last autumn.

Foxy very reliably lands in the low 30s range after the first phase, but he’s edging closer to those lower marks – his last preparatory outing at Stable View produced one of his best 4* scores at 30.1. A drive by on the cross country last year cost the pair a top-ten finish, and Jennie will be keen to better that performance in 2023. She’s got Foxy’s big, open step in her toolbox though, and the horse is consistently quick – still only having 5.6 time penalties last year even with a stop, so we can expect her to be very competitive on the time. We’ll also expect him to stay on that Saturday score as he jumped without penalty on the final day of his last two 5* outings.

Despite all this, his secret weapon may be his groom Alexa Lapp. She’s been with Jennie for nearly a decade and is Foxy’s number one fan.


Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

45: Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS (USA)
Eleven-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar). Bred by Inken Gräfin von Platen-Hallermund. Owned by Hyperion Stud.
Groom: Hailey Burlock and Erin Jarboe

This is a 5* debut that many in the eventing community have waited for with bated breath. The flashy moving Chin Tonic HS has been an eye-catcher even as a young horse. Will told EN last year that he’d always remember the first time he saw a video of the colt as a two-year-old. “I’ll never forget watching it there in [Vicky Castegren of Hyperion Stud’s] office drooling over it. He has so much presence and so many natural physical gifts,” Will said.

Will has been careful to bring this talented horse along thoughtfully. At 41% blood, Chin Tonic’s lineage trends more towards dressage and show jumping. His development of the gelding has therefore included a strong commitment to running him educationally and patiently in order to encourage the same level of dominance across the country as he has between the boards.

While Chin Tonic’s prowess in the first phase has turned heads even overseas (like that time they scored a 24.6 in the CCI4*-S at Luhmühlen or when they scored a 25.8 in the CCIO4*-S at Aachen last summer) handfuls of patient time penalties across the country have kept them out of the very top placings at those most prestigious events – that is, until Carolina International CCI4*-S last month. A sub-20 mark in the dressage teed the pair up to break a record for lowest finishing score in the event’s history, but Will had to see whether the gelding would answer the questions over a challenging cross country course when he asked for the next gear. He certainly did, and the pair finished on their dressage score of 19.4 set the record for lowest finishing score in the event’s history and rewarding Will with a rare hat trick of winning the event three years in a row.

It wouldn’t be out of the question for this pair to lead the way after the first phase (there isn’t a 30 in sight on their FEI record and their dressage marks trend more towards the mid- to lower-twenties) and with them situated last in the drawn order, we are virtually guaranteed an exceptionally exciting end to each phase of the competition this weekend.


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