Photo by Michelle Dunn
Lexington, KY—April 27, 2023— Great Britain’s Tom McEwen hasn’t been riding JL Dublin for very long, but their partnership looked solid as the pair danced to the lead of the CCI5*-L at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™. McEwen and JL Dublin strutted their stuff in front of a crowd of 7,158, the largest Thursday crowd since 2017.
The 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. Lambert and Mrs. D. Johnston, was trained and competed by McEwen’s fellow countryman Nicola Wilson until last year, when Wilson suffered a serious accident that led to her retirement from high-level competition. She passed the reins to McEwen, who formed a fast partnership with “Dubs.”
“He was amazing, and it’s all thanks to Nicola I get to enjoy him,” McEwen said after his ride which scored 22.6 penalty points. “He’s the most amazing horse and I’m unbelievably lucky to get to take the reins. I’m very excited. And it wouldn’t have come together this quickly without everything she’s done, so this is all thanks to her.”

McEwen’s 22.6 puts him just ahead of Americans Tamie Smith aboard Mai Baum (24.2) and Liz Halliday-Sharp aboard Deniro Z (29.0). McEwen finished second on “Dubs” at the Boekelo CCI4*-L in October 2022; this is their first time at this level together.
“He was amazing at Boekelo, but we had a few things to get to know about each other,” he said. “Over the winter, we built our partnership and spent time getting to know each other and it’s showing today, but there’s certainly some more polishing of the diamond to be done for both of us.”
McEwen’s admiration for his equine partner is clear in the way he speaks about him. “Dubs is the kindest horse you could ever meet — lovely, soft,” he said. “What you see in the arena is what you get: lovely, soft, and kind and also the personality of a showman. He loves being on stage and in front of people. He’s just a lovely, lovely horse.”
In contrast, Smith has a long-term relationship with her 17-year-old partner Mai Baum, owned by Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell. But she feels like even now, things get better every time she competes with him.
Tamie Smith (USA) sits in second place with 5* mount Mai Baum © Michelle Dunn
“I just feel him getting stronger and being more in self-carriage and in front of my leg,” she said. “He answered all the questions super, and I couldn’t have asked him to be better. We maybe had a few tiny mistakes but overall, I’m very pleased.
“With any horse, as time goes on, you hope to develop a good, trusting partnership, and the quality has always been there, but his confidence and strength for both of us has grown,” she concluded.
As the highest-placed American, Smith currently leads the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS Equestrian.
Holding down third place is Halliday-Sharp and her veteran partner Deniro Z. The 15-year-old Dutch-bred gelding owned by Ocala Horse Properties has an impressive résumé, but his flying changes in the dressage test have been a challenge. Halliday-Sharp was especially pleased with his performance today.
“He got three out of the four so I guess we should be excited,” she said with a laugh. “At home, his changes are the best they’ve ever been.”
She credits the improvement to her recent work with U.S. dressage rider Shelly Francis. “She’s changed the way I teach horses to do changes,” she said. “He’s starting to understand what he can do. The changes are physically very hard for him … and at 15, he’s still getting better.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) is third with Deniro Z © Michelle Dunn
While most of Halliday-Sharp’s ride was smooth and harmonious, she did have a bit of a challenge on the first centerline. “Deniro decided something was terrifying with the camera (near the judges’ stand). He’s never done that, ever, and it shows they are all individuals and can do cheeky things,” she said.
Halliday-Sharp also had a great ride on her Cooley Nutcracker in the Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S, where she stands first after Thursday’s competition with a score of 24.5. She leads Smith on Solaguayre California(27.6) and Canada’s Colleen Loach on Peter Barry’s Vermont (29.8).
The nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse is a newer ride for Halliday-Sharp, but she’s excited about his future and the glimpse she got of it today.
Halliday-Sharp also leads the CCI4*-S with Cooley Nutcracker © Michelle Dunn
“Nutcracker is a younger horse, but I’m completely thrilled,” she said. “That’s the best test he’s ever done in the biggest atmosphere he’s ever seen. He’s very sensitive, quite quirky and sharp, and it’s taken time to get him comfortable in the ring and staying with me. Today, the pieces came together, and he fought for me in there. I’m thrilled. He still needs strength, but today was a snapshot of what he’s capable of in the future.”
In a reverse of the 5*, Smith stands just behind Halliday-Sharp on the 12-year-old Argentinian-bred mare Solaguayre California, owned by Julianne Guariglia. “That mare is quite green at the level, and it was her best test … she tried really hard,” Smith said. “She has another 6-12 months to get strong. She was really brilliant in her self-carriage and movement.
“Her half-pass work and trot work were quite good,” Smith continued. “She hasn’t always been able to push and have the hind end strength needed to be able to do that.”
Smith also holds second with 4* partner Solaguayre California © Michelle Dunn
The dressage phase continues Friday, with the second half of competitors in both divisions performing their tests in the Rolex Stadium. The heart of the competition, the cross-country, takes place on Saturday, followed by the final test, the show jumping phase, on Sunday.
More photos are available via Dropbox. Photo credits to Michelle Dunn.
Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event is a thrilling multi-day competition featuring Olympic-level riders and horses in what can best be described as an equestrian triathlon. Horse and rider pairs compete in three phases of the competition – Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping – for $375,000 in prize money to those competing at the CCI5*-L level. LRK3DE is the largest and longest-running Five Star event in the Americas, and as the United States’ premier event, it also serves as the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS Equestrian for the U.S. athletes. It also includes the Dubarry Nations Team Challenge. Rolex is the Official Timepiece and Event Partner.
Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S
Introduced in 2021, the Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S runs concurrently with the CCI5*-L competition, featuring the three phases of eventing – dressage, cross country and show jumping. The Cosequin® Lexington 4*-S offers $25,000 prize money. Tickets for viewing the Cosequin® Lexington 4*-S are included when purchasing the LRK3DE tickets.
Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute
The $226,000 Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute will take place on Saturday afternoon, April 29, after the cross-country portion of the LRK3DE. As part of the competition, there will also be a $38,700 Welcome Speed Cup Ranking Class on Friday in the Rolex Stadium after the day’s LRK3DE dressage competition. No stadium seat ticket is required for Friday’s Ranking Class. For more Grand Prix information, please visit
All competitions held as part of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™ – the CCI5*, Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S, and Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute – can be watched live on USEF Network powered by ClipMyHorse.TV, available through the event website at
Further information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™, the Cosequin® Lexington 4*-S, and the Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is available at
About Equestrian Events, Inc.
Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI) is a non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation that was established initially to produce the 1978 World Three-Day Event Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the success of those championships, EEI established an annual event that evolved into the world-renowned Kentucky Three-Day Event, which draws more than 80,000 spectators to the Kentucky Horse Park each year. EEI added the Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix in 2018, the Lexington CCI4*-S in 2021, and also produces other events. EEI supports several local and equine charities and has donated more than $725,000 to various charities since 2011. For more information, please visit