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Martin and Tsetserleg lead the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship after the First Day of Dressage

by Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Lexington, Ky. – April 26, 2018 – Michael Jung of Germany has won the top prize at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day-Event the last three years aboard fischerRocana FST, so it comes as no surprise that after the first day of competition he is sitting in the top spot on a score of 27.1 penalty points. Chasing him are two Americans; Boyd Martin in second riding Tsetserleg (31.2), who leads the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship as the top American combination, and Tamra Smith in third aboard Wembley (32.1).

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian

Tsetserleg, a gleaming, black 11-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner is contesting his first four-star, but he has history in his blood as a son of the Olympic and Kentucky Three-Day competitor, Windfall. “Thomas” put in a clean test punctuated with his flashy gaits.

“I was very pleased,” said Martin (Cochranville, Pa.). “It’s his first four-star, and our first through the new (dressage) test. When you finish you always wish one part here or there was a little better, but Thomas did as well as he could do for where we are at the moment. I’m very pleased with him.”

Martin’s most famous mounts have been Thoroughbreds, so a Trakehner like Thomas is a new experience for him. “He’s the first I’ve had into the top of the sport. Ten years ago when I first came to America I saw Windfall, and I’ll never forget watching his dressage. Who would have thought 10 years later I’d be riding a Windfall baby? Thomas’ personality is wonderful, like a big pony, very cuddly in the barn. At home he doesn’t try that much, and you wouldn’t think he could do a four-star, but then you get to a big competition and he grows into an 18-hand horse. The atmosphere perks him up.”

Watch Martin and Tsetserleg’s dressage test here.

Tamra 'Tammie' Smith and Wembley. Photo: Alex Banks Photography

Tamra ‘Tammie’ Smith and Wembley. Photo: Alex Banks Photography

Tamie Smith’s (Murrieta, Calif.) horse, Wembley, is 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Kevin Baumgardner, an upper-level rider and a former president of the U.S. Eventing Association. Baumgardner purchased Wembley in England, originally as a competition mount for himself. Baumgardner trains with Smith, and last fall he handed over the reins to her.

“It’s been great,” Smith said. “I’ll never forget when we tried him, we took him cross-country schooling and he said, ‘You get on him first’ and I said, ‘No, because if I ride him I’ll just tell you to buy him.’ They are huge supporters of me, and that’s what it’s all about, really. They’ve become family to me, so to be here is really great.”

The big, gray Dutch Warmblood is a powerful mover and a flashy presence, but Smith seemed a little surprised to find herself in the top standings. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect, because he can go in and be quite tense in the ring, but he was quite relaxed, and very workmanlike,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked him to go better. I think I did a little too much warm up, so he got a little tired, but I was thrilled. He was very good.”

All three riders expressed some trepidation about Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course, which they will tackle on Saturday.

“I think it’s really tough,” admitted Martin. “The first half is forward and gallopy and looks nice, but the second half gets much more difficult, and we know horses tire a bit in that second half. It’ll be hard to make up time on course. (di Grazia) usually gives us a nice, long gallop somewhere in the second half, but not this year. It’s as tough as I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s pretty technical,” agreed Smith. “The Head of the Lake will be quite influential, and the brush combination towards the end might catch out some tired horses.”

The sun shone on the 6,026 spectators who turned out to watch the first day of dressage. Day two of dressage kicks off tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. EST.

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

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