After Day 2 of RK3DE Michael Jung is tied for the lead

As expected, the second day of dressage in Kentucky ended with Michael Jung in first place with a score of 36.3 on La Biosthetique Sam FBW. What was not anticipated was that Tim Price tied for the lead riding his 12-year old Dutch gelding Wesko. William Fox-Pitt is sitting in third place on 2014 Rolex winner Bay My Hero.

Here is Tim Price (New Zealand) with Wesko, a 12-year old Dutch gelding.

I haven’t found a video of Michael Jung’s full ride, but here’s some of it.

Michael Jung is tied for first place

Click on the video to make it play

 

Here’s an interesting fact – while the top three riders all wore top hats, I was really pleased to notice that many, many riders (including big names like Boyd Martin and Buck Davidson) wore helmets for their tests.  So much safer!

Cross country tomorrow should prove interesting. The forecast is not good — thunderstorms are moving in. To try to beat the weather, organizers have moved the first ride to 9:45 EST and will start running the riders every 3 minutes after the first few trips (which are 5 minutes apart). Fingers crossed that the weather holds.

Rolex is underway!

The 2015 Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event started today with a cold, windy day for the first day of dressage. No surprise that leading the field right now is Michael Jung on Fischerrocana, who put in a very nice test, and Laine Ashker is in second place on her OTTB Anthony Patch. Kudos for the riders who kept their very fit horses under control in the less-than-optimum conditions!

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 2 of dressage and many more excellent teams. You can watch Rolex live on the USEF Network (http://www.usefnetwork.com/) which also posts highlights at the end of the day.

While there are lots of familiar names in the line up there’s a great video interviewing Rolex first-timers. How exciting for them all!

 

 

Ready for hunting? Not sure!

Freedom in the sun

Freedom looking deceptively calm after our ride this morning. He was on high alert for most of it!

After a week of amazing spring weather I’ve almost (not quite) forgotten what a lousy winter we’ve had. It’s been absolutely wonderful to go and ride Freedom and Zelda, to feel the warmth of the sun, to not sink up to our collective knees in snow.

In theory, hunt season started last Tuesday. Sadly, the ground was too wet for horses, and the hunts last week and this coming Tuesday were/are cancelled. In some respects, that might be good news, too, because for the first time I can remember, we (Freedom, Zelda and I are simply not ready). We (mostly me) are out of shape and they are way too excited to take out and gallop in company.

For example, this was Zelda yesterday. I can’t imagine sitting those bucks even when I’m feeling fit. She’s quite athletic!

Honestly, we’re still at the “let’s go for a long walk” stage — where I hope they don’t buck, spook or jig excessively (aka cantering in place).

Zelda’s worth ethic suffered over the winter. After about 15 minutes she wants to turn around and head back to the barn. She’s very, shall we say, expressive about it. First her upper lip starts to twitch, then she shakes her head and neck, and then she has a hissy fit that would put a toddler in a toy store to shame. We’re working out of it, but I think we’re still two weeks away from compliance. I’ve only just achieved a nice canter without bucks, and that’s without any additional excitement.

Freedom offers a different type of challenge. He won’t buck (thank goodness) but he is on a hair trigger. During this morning’s ride he managed some very dramatic jump/spooks when scary things like rocks, birds and squirrels jumped out at him.

And then there’s me. An hour or so in the saddle leaves my legs stiff and creaky. The thought of riding in half seat for any extended period of time is still in the distant future. Of course, it’ll be fun getting back into shape.

Celebrate the anniversary of the Pony Express with Google

Google Doodle Pony Express

The Google Doodle today is an interactive game that highlights the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express. Click on this image to go to the video (I’ve saved it from another locations so hopefully it will be available for longer than today).

If you haven’t checked the Google Doodle today, now’s the time! Their team of animators have created an interactive game to celebrate the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express. More than just a simple Doodle, this is a full blown game where you collect letters and avoid obstacles. You can collect as many as 100 letters but you need to have quick reflexes and enough time today to devote to the game!

For the backstory of the game, Google has posted this video that provides some history about the Pony Express.

Enjoy!

Balthazar King continues to improve

Balthazar King

Balthazar King was a favorite in the Grand National but fell at the Canal Turn

Balthazar King, the horse injured during the Grand National on Saturday, is showing steady improvement. He fell at the Canal turn, bringing down Ballycasey who ran into him. He suffered several broken ribs.

He was treated for about an hour at the Aintree track before being transported to the University of Liverpool Equine Hospital.

Trainer Philip Hobbs reported yesterday:

Balthazar King has had a good 24 hours and (is) making steady progress. He has broken a couple of ribs and is very sore but is eating and seems bright in himself.

Balthazar King finished second in the 2014 Grand National and was favored to win.

 

Many Clouds wins the Grand National – Two in a row for Leighton Aspell

Many Clouds

Many Clouds is an 8-year old Irish bred.

I never watch the Grand National live. It’s too risky a race for that. But when I heard that all 39 horses and riders came back to the barn, I had to watch it.

Leighton Aspell became the first jockey to win the Grand National twice in a row for the first time in over 40 years. Many Clouds is an eight-year old Irish bred gelding. Unlike American flat racing, eight is considered young. In fact he is the youngest winner of the National since Bindaree in 2002 and carried 165 pounds, more weight than any National winner since Red Rum (in comparison, in the Kentucky Derby all horses carry 125 pounds).

Certainly he looked tired coming into the last two fences and galloping up the hill, but he held off the challengers and won by 1 3/4 lengths.

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While Balthazar King was down, jockey Ruby Walsh, who had been unseated from Ballycasey, diverted the galloping field to one side by holding a flag above his head.

There was one bad fall in the race — Balthazar King, who started as one of the favorites fell and was then kicked in the ribs. It took him some time to get to his feet and the ominous green screens were put around him. Thankfully, he got to his feet on his own and it was reported that he had several broken ribs.