McEwen stays on top at the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™

No one has ever accused a CCI5*-L of being easy, and Saturday was no exception as horses and riders fought hard to complete Derek di Grazia’s course at the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™ (K3DE). At the end of the day, overnight leader Tom McEwen and JL Dublin added four time penalties to retain the top spot, with Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir (31.6) standing second and Oliver Townend and Cooley Rosalent (31.8) in third.

Organized by Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI), the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian (K3DE) features one of only seven annual Five Star three-day events in the world. The event annually attracts nearly 90,000 spectators who also enjoy extensive shopping, a variety of hospitality experiences and a wide array of demonstrations. In addition to the traditional CCI5*-L, the event also features the Cosequin® Lexington 4* and Kentucky CSI4* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.

While McEwen’s round with “Dubs” was enough to keep him on top, it wasn’t perfect, with him taking the long route at two fences and accruing time faults. Still, he was thrilled with the 13-year-old bay Warmblood gelding owned by James and Jo Lambert and Deirdre Johnston’s performance.

“He was amazing,” McEwen said. “‘Dubs’ was cruising around and way up on time… I had to take two long routes [which caused the] time faults, but he made child’s play of the course. I’m just delighted with him. He was amazing, and we came here to do exactly that.

“I knew coming in here that Dubs is the most incredible horse and should be right up there, so we came here to deliver a great test and come and go as quick as we can cross-country. I know what the horse can do and it’s up to me to deliver on the day,” he concluded.

Ingham was equally thrilled with her mount. “He was brilliant today,” she said. “He gave me a super ride; it was so nice to have a good round today. We had one small moment at the Defender Head of the Lake, but he was super honest and dead on with his line. It made me so happy how he was looking through the flags.”

Townend is in Kentucky contesting his 100th CCI5*, which is a significant accomplishment. Even more impressive is his partnership with a relatively green horse, Diana and Paul Ridgeon’s 10-year-old gray Irish Sporthorse mare Cooley Rosalent.

“She’s been to the 5* in Maryland and here, and both have got terrain and speed [questions],” Townend said. “She’s proven she copes with the crowd and on quick tracks and she’s definitely on an upward trajectory. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Of the 35 horses who started the competition, two were withdrawn before the start of the cross-country phase: Will Faudree’s (USA) Mama’s Magic Way and Hannah Sue Hollberg’s (USA) Capital HIM. Hollberg took a fall from her CCI4*-S horse Carsonstown and was sore enough that she felt discretion was the better part of valor, deciding to save it for another day. Two pairs were eliminated on cross-country, while four retired on course. Five pairs finished with jumping penalties.

Scores are tight going into the final phase of show jumping on Sunday, with less than a rail separating the top three. Riders are already looking to the next phase even as they celebrate their cross-country rounds.

“In general, she’s a good jumper, but we all know three-day eventing. It’s almost a different sport on the third day. A good jumper can find a rail and a bad one can pull a clear round out of the bag,” Townend said. “Hopefully, I’ll do my best and she gives me her best and we’ll see the result.”

“Dubs is a great jumper, and we’ve been in this position before, so it’s down to me really,” McEwen said. “Fingers crossed.”

“Banzai is usually a good jumper on the final day,” Ingham said. “I need to make sure I give him a good ride, that I’m accurate and quick enough, and hopefully he’ll do the rest for me.”

Prior to the show jumping phase, Sunday begins with a final horse inspection at 8:00 a.m. ET (1.00pm British time). Then the CCI4*-S kicks off at 10:30 a.m. (3.50pm British time) ET with the CCI5*-L at 2:15 p.m ET (7.15pm British time) to determine the winners.

Livestream and TV broadcasts
All competitions held as part of the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™ – the CCI5*, Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S, and Kentucky CSI4* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute – can be watched live on USEF Network powered by ClipMyHorse.TV. The link is also available through the event website at The livestream is available free of charge worldwide to USEF fans and members. Anyone can become a fan and watch the event free by registering as a “Fan” at ClipMyHorseTV premium subscribers can also watch the event.

Further information about the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™, the Cosequin® Lexington 4*-S, and the Kentucky CSI4* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is available at

Press release supplied by event. Images courtesy of Michelle Dunn Photo.

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