Did the Thoroughbreds deliver at Rolex Kentucky?


The handsome, vigilant and spirited horse was ideal when the sport of Eventing, featured the long-format, where the horse’s endurance, fitness and conditioning were paramount. Thoroughbreds offer a certain presence, and their boldness, confidence and courage have enabled them to remain competitive. The change in format hasn’t dissuaded upper level riders from competing Thoroughbreds or ex-racehorses and that was very obvious at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event CCI4* where out of the 75 riders that started the competition, 26 of them were sitting on Thoroughbreds.

Rolex 2015 top OTTB

When the final penalty points were tallied, Donner the OTTB piloted by Lynn Symansky was the top placing Thoroughbred in 12th place. After putting in a respectable dressage score of 52.7 and starting in 32nd place, the pair steadily moved up the leaderboard. To their dressage score they added time penalties on cross-country and one rail in stadium to end the weekend on a final score of 67.5.

One might think that 12th is a competitive placing, however, to put their score into perspective, it needs to be noted that Michael Jung riding Fischerrocana FST, won the CCI4* event on their dressage score of 39.3. This is a 28.2 spread. Twelfth place does seem respectable but when you look at the scores, it makes you question if Thoroughbreds can actually win.

Fischerrocana FST is a SATHU (German Sport Horse) by the Thoroughbred stallion Ituango and out of the Oldenburg mare Rose II, by Carismo. Sired by a Thoroughbred, this horse consistently delivers at the four-star level, placing 2nd at Luhmühlen in 2014 at her first CCI4*. Michael and the mare then went on to win the individual Silver medal at the 2014 WEG.

Tim Price riding Wesko took second place on a score of 40.3. Short on significant Thoroughbred blood, The 12-year-old, KWPN made time on cross-country. However, we must take into consideration that the pair did have a significant hold on cross-country that certainly allowed the gelding to have a rest. The pair added only one rail to their dressage score. This pair did not finished the 2014 WEG as they pulled up near the end of the course as the gelding was showing extreme signs of fatigue.

Michael on his second ride, La Biosthetique Sam FBW, finished in third place with 44.7 adding .4 in time penalities on cross-country and 2 rails in stadium. Sam is by the Thoroughbred stallion Stan the Man, and Sam’s dam sire is the famous Thoroughbred stallion Heraldik. So this 2010 WEG and 2012 Olympic individual Gold medal winner does have a significant amount of blood in his pedigree.

Overview of the thoroughbred results
The Thoroughbreds finished much further down the leaderboard. Twenty-four rider/Thoroughbred combinations began the weekend out of the 75 rides composing the field at Rolex Kentucky, or 31.3 percent of those contesting the four-star.

Thoroughbreds remain relevant in the sport as demonstrated by the fact that there were seven rookie riders competing on Thoroughbreds this weekend. Six of those riders were also on rookie horses. So the breed certainly has a presence with the up and coming rider as an affordable and reliable mount. The top placed rookie pair, Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless, a 14-year-old, 16.3 hand Australian Thoroughbred, moved up 10 places after cross country to 12th . Despite 5 rails, they finished in 17th place at their first four-star competition out of 75 starters.

Rookie pair Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless

Rookie pair Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless

The popular OTTB and rider combination of the 16-year-old Anthony Patch and Laine Ashker had the OTTB fan club very optimistic after dressage when they scored a personal best dressage of 44.2 at the four-star level. Uncharacteristically, they picked up a refusal on cross-country and time penalities dropping them down the leaderboard like a stone. They enjoyed a redeeming stadium round with no jumping faults and adding only one time penalty over a course that had rails flying and only eight clear rounds out of the 41 pairs that gave it a go.

Crowd favourite Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch delighted the crowd by being the first pair to keep the poles in the cups.

Crowd favourite Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch delighted the crowd by being the first pair to keep the poles in the cups.


Overall performance

Thorougbreds are not known for their dressage prowess, and as expected, only two were in the top 20 after dressage.

  • 7th Anthony Patch and Laine Ashker – 44.2
  • 20th Houdini and Katie Ruppel – 49.8

With gallop and stamina, Thoroughbreds typically shine here and after cross-country concluded, six combinations had made their way into the top 20.

  • 12th Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless
  • 14th Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz
  • 15th Lynn Symansky and Donner
  • 16th James Alliston and Parker
  • 18th Buck Davidson and Petite Flower
    20th Holly Payne and Never Outfoxed

The poles poured down like rain in stadium and with very few clear rounds, the Thoroughbreds held their own and managed to complete the weekend with seven in the top 20.

  • 12th Lynn Symansky and Donner
  • 13th Buck Davidson and Petite Flower
  • 14th Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz
  • 15th James Alliston and Parker
  • 17th Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless
  • 18th Sarah Kozumplik-Murphy and Fly Me Courageous
  • 20th Holly Payne and Never Outfoxed

There are copious volumes of stories of Eventers purchasing former racehorses for a minimal amount of money, including those who failed to make it at the racetrack, sparing others from being sent to the kill pen or just giving those a second chance at participating in an athletic endeavor that they are far better suited.

Thoroughbreds will continue to play a salient role in Eventing, and racetracks and training centers are a outstanding source to find future Eventing prospects. Thoroughbreds may have not been the winners this weekend but they did provide a huge group of riders experience and the thrill of a life-time to actually have a mount capable of competing at a four-star.

Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event [Website] [Results]


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