Lexington, KY—April 30, 2023— It’s been 15 years since an American has taken home the top prize in the CCI5*-L at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™ and 12 years since a woman has won. Both those streaks were broken on Sunday as the USA’s Tamie Smith and Mai Baum jumped a brilliant double-clear show jumping round to claim the top prize on their dressage score of 24.2.
Tamie Smith (USA) and Mai Baum won the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian © Michelle Dunn
Smith and “Lexus” had all the pressure on them as they cantered into the Rolex Stadium. Both the eventual second-placed Tom McEwen and JL Dublin (27.8) from Great Britain and fellow American Liz Halliday-Sharp aboard third-placed Miks Master C (28.5) jumped double-clear before her, leaving Smith without a rail in hand.
Still, she cantered into the arena on the 17-year-old Rheinlander gelding owned by the Ahearn family and never wavered, leaving all the jumps up and coming home inside the time in front of a wild crowd of 23,576. As the highest-placed American, Smith’s win also makes her the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Champion presented by MARS Equestrian, with Halliday-Sharp taking home the reserve championship.
“To (win a 5*) here in the U.S. and at Kentucky … I know so many people wanted an American to win, and I’m so grateful it was me,” an emotional Smith said after her ride. “I’m a bit speechless and a little bit in awe right now.”
Tamie Smith and Mai Baum © Michelle Dunn
McEwen was thrilled with his performance on the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. Lambert and Mrs. D. Johnston, but he didn’t get much of a chance to celebrate it. As soon as his round was over, he had to race to the airport to catch a plane back to England, where he was two horses entered in the Badminton Horse Trials presented by MARS Equestrian (May 5-8).
Halliday-Sharp has only been riding “Mickey” for about a year. His breeder Laurie Cameron reached out to her to see if she’d be interested in riding and ultimately selling him. Halliday-Sharp knew immediately she wanted to keep him and got together some of her other owners to buy him.
“He is the most amazing horse,” Halliday-Sharp said of the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Ocala Horse Properties and Deborah Palmer. “For him to come in and do his first 5* and finish as he did? I think he’s a Burghley and Badminton horse, and I hope he will be my Olympic horse. I think the world of him and couldn’t have asked more of him.”
Tom McEwen (GBR) and JL Dublin claimed second in the CCI5*-L © Michelle Dunn
In the show jumping arena, clean jumping rounds weren’t that hard to come by, but leaving the jumps up while making the time was a bit more challenging. Of the 24 horses who started in the event’s final phase, only ten came home clear inside the time.
“To be completely honest, I was quite nervous going in with him today because of an uncharacteristic two rails I had at the World Championships (in 2022),” Smith admitted. “When you’re on a horse that show jumps as well as he does and then have two down, you feel like the odds are against you. Scott Keach, who I show jump with, has been instrumental in helping me keep my cool and stay in the moment. He helped me learn that my job is to ride the right way, and my horse’s job is to jump the jumps. I’m glad Lexus felt healthy and strong and full of it. He knew the crowd was there, and it felt like everybody carried me over that whole course.”
Smith will now take Lexus home and let him rest before focusing on his show jumping this fall. She’d like to have him in contention for the Olympics next year but admits that at 17, they have to take it day by day.
“He’s healthy and strong, and he’ll tell me what he wants to do next,” she said. “He doesn’t owe me anything after something like this, and he’ll tell me when he’s ready to throw in the towel, but he doesn’t show any signs of that. He was feeling fit and fresh at the trot-up, and he was jumping out of his skin today.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) was third with Miks Master C © Michelle Dunn
In the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge, Team USA (Tamie Smith/Mai Baum, Will Coleman/Chin Tonic, Boyd Martin/Tsetserleg TSF, and Phillip Dutton/Z) took home the win with a score of 96.3. Team Great Britain (Yasmin Ingham/Banzai Du Loir, Tom McEwen/JL Dublin, Kristy Chabert/Classic VI, and David Doel/Galileo Nieuwmoed) moved into second with a score of 125.5. The combined team of Germany, France and Canada (Sandra Auffarth/Viamant Du Matz, Alina Dibowski/Barbados 26, Maxime Livio/Carouzo Bois Marotin, and Jessica Phoenix/Wabbit) finished third with 129.7.
In the Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S, the show jumping track looked deceptively straightforward Sunday morning, but it became clear that leaving the rails up and making the time was going to be challenging. Canada’s Karl Slezak and Hot Bobo proved up to the challenge, jumping double-clear to win the division on a record low score.
The 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare owned by Slezak moved up from seventh after dressage, adding no additional penalties in either jumping phase, to win with a score of 29.3. Overall, nine of the 35 horses who came forward to the final phase would leave all the rails up and make it home within the time allowed, including the top three finishers.
Karl Slezak (CAN) and Hot Bobo won the Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S © Michelle Dunn
“It feels amazing; she’s the best! I love riding her so much,” Slezak enthused after his ride. “I was hopeful (about her performance in the show jumping), but we’ve been there before. She’s good on the flat but has never quite been right there, but she’s good on cross-country and shines here (in the show jumping), so I was optimistic.”
Smith on Solaguayre California also jumped double-clear to keep her second place with a score of 30.0. Sydney Elliott (USA) and QC Diamantairecontinued their steady move up the leaderboard with their double-clear show jumping round, landing them in third on 34.9. Overnight third-placed Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool lowered the first fence of the triple combination and added 1.2 time faults to slip to fourth.
Slezak has had “Bobo” since she was a 4-year-old, and though they’ve had to work through some spookiness, his affection for the mare is clear. “She handled (the atmosphere today) amazingly. Even when I was doing the victory gallop so close to the crowds cheering, she was eating it up. I’m pretty excited about it going forward and very confident in her at any championship in that situation.
“She just wants to work all the time,” he continued. “She wants to please and comes out the same every day. With mares you never know, but when mares work for you, they are amazing. She wants to please and works for me really well.”
Karl Slezak and Hot Bobo © Michelle Dunn
All three riders had praise for how their mounts handled the final phase of the competition.
“She felt great in the warmup,” Slezak said. “Anytime she show jumps after cross-country, she’s sharper and more amped up. It gives me a good feeling going in the ring — that even if I make a mistake, she can handle it. I was excited going in, and she didn’t let me down. (The show jumping course today) was a good track; it had a nice flow to it. Show jumping on the last day is always nerve-wracking, but here we are.”
“Show jumping my mare on the third day is always better,” Smith said of the 12-year-old Argentinian-bred mare owned by Julianne Guariglia. “She can be quite spicy. She was a show jumper before she was an eventer, but she can still be quite spooky … she spooked at some flowers in the ring and darted sideways. But being able to have this 4* here in this atmosphere is so great for our horses.”
Tamie Smith (USA) also took second in the CCI4*-S with Solaguayre California © Michelle Dunn
“My horse is very quiet,” Elliott said of Carol Stephens’ 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding. “The last two years here, he has been very nervous going in the ring. Finally this third year, he was more like himself and very settled in there. I was thrilled.”
The Pan American Games in Chile this fall are looming large for the Canadian riders, who must secure an Olympic berth there in order to compete in France in 2024, and Slezak hopes Bobo will be part of that team. “The plan is to go to Tryon in a couple of weeks for the 4*-Long, and then hopefully Chile for the Pan Ams,” he said.
Elliott, Smith and their mounts are bound for Germany; both horses will compete at Luhmühlen in June.
“This was a last run before we head to Germany,” Elliott said. “We’re using it as a prep, and it’s a great last run for him before heading to Europe.”
“We wanted to make sure she handled this well,” Smith said. “And now we have May to decompress and get our wits about us before heading to Luhmühlen.”
Sydney Elliott (USA) and QC Diamantaire were third in the CCI4*-S © Michelle Dunn
In addition to the main prizes, several special awards were given out on the final day of competition:
Best Turned Out Horse presented by MARS Equestrian
CCI4*-S: Hot Bobo — $1,000 awarded to groom Amber Wavryc
CCI5*-L: Chin Tonic — $1,000 awarded to grooms Erin Jarbo and Haley Burlock
Highest-Placed Young Rider
Cornelia Dorr (USA)
Highest-Placed International Rider
Tom McEwen (GBR)
James C. Wofford “On The Rise” Trophy presented to the highest-placed first-time 5* rider
Zach Brandt (USA) with Direct Advance
Full results can be found at KentuckyThreeDayEvent.com/results.
Photos from the event are available via Dropbox. 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 took place on Saturday afternoon, April 29, after the cross-country portion of the LRK3DE. As part of the competition, there was also a $38,700 Welcome Speed Cup Ranking Class on Friday in the Rolex Stadium after the day’s LRK3DE dressage competition. For more Grand Prix information, please visit https://kentuckythreedayevent.com/grand-prix/.
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 – could be watched live on USEF Network powered by ClipMyHorse.TV, available through the event website at www.kentuckythreedayevent.com.
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 www.kentuckythreedayevent.com.
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 www.eq-events.com.