Oliver Townend has won the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event – and is now one title away from taking the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
It was a nail-biting competition in Kentucky, with just 1.2 penalties between the top three on the final day. However, Oliver kept a cool head on-board Cooley Master Class to claim victory.
“It’s a different world, it’s something I have dreamt of for a long time,” said Oliver. “We have come a long way to be here and the owners have funded it, so I am so grateful to them for this opportunity.”
Oliver was lying third after the cross-country and rode the round of his life to go clear in the showjumping,
This piled further pressure on the final two riders: Australia’s Chris Burton who was in second place and Germany’s Michael Jung at the top of the leaderboard.
Chris had two down, which moved Oliver up to second place and one step closer to the coveted prize. However, the three-time defending champions Michael and FischerRocana FST were yet to jump.
The pair had an uncharacteristic four faults, which Michael said was “absolutely my mistake”. This dropped them into second place, to give Oliver and Cooley Master Class a well-deserved win.
“I have had him since he was four year’s old, he has won at nearly every level and never lets us down,” said Oliver. “He has suffered with injuries in the past and at some points we weren’t sure if he would even come through.
“But the last two seasons he has been amazing. He has always been cheeky and extremely talented so it’s great to be here with him.”
USA’s Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous were third and also took the Land Rover USEF CCI4* National Champions title.
Kentucky is one of three legs in the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, which awards a $350,000 bonus to any rider that can consecutively win the three biggest four-star events, in any order.
The other two legs are the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials – which Oliver won last September with Ballaghmor Class – and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, which start this week. The 35-year-old is entered with yet another top horse, Cooley SRS – so can he win that elusive third title?
You can watch Oliver battle it out for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing title as we are showing highlights of Badminton on Saturday 12 May at 8pm. You can also watch him win Kentucky on Thursday 10 May at 8.30pm.