With a history making one-two finish at the prestigious Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Mary King, a 49 year old event rider from Great Britain has positioned herself atop the world of her chosen sport. Just a week before the Kentucky CCI4* event, the mother of two rode to a 3rd place finish aboard her star horse, Imperial Cavalier, at the infamous Badminton Horse Trials. In Kentucky however, she would be mounted on her third and fourth string horses. Always considered a strong contender, she reported to Horse and Hound Magazine, “I’m absolutely over the moon. I never would have dreamt I would be in this position when I left England to come here.”
A recent change to the double bridle reportedly helped King prepare the 10yr old Portuguese bred Fernhill Urco for his successful second place standing after the dressage phase. On her second mount, the 11yr old bay mare, King’s Temptress, she stood fourth in the rankings at the end of dressage day.
The cross-country phase loomed before the competitors with its long and challenging course. But, footing was the main concern, particularly for King who stated that her Fernhill Urco was both, “chunky” and “not bred to be an event horse.” Further, Fernhill Urco was completely inexperienced at that level. Her hopes may have well ridden on King’s Temptress, an experienced horse at that level. The mare, which had placed 7th last year at the Burghley Horse Trials put in one of just three clear rounds of the day to move into the top position. With Fernhill Urco, King accumulated some time penalties, but the pair remained in a striking position as they moved into day three, and back to the arena for stadium jumping.
Fernhill Urco went first, to navigate the beautiful colored stadium fences depicting the equestrian culture of Kentucky. His fluid course was marred only by a tense rub at the final fence of the triple combination. But, as they cleared the final fence gorgeously themed for the famous Churchill Downs, they put down a no fault round rocketing the pair into second place. By the time King entered the ring on King’s Temptress, she had already guaranteed herself a victory. The clean round on the tricky jumping mare clenched the lead for that pair, moving Fernhill Urco into second place, and thrusting King into the historical position of being the first rider to take first and second place at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. King who has represented her country in 5 Olympic Games, holds Olympic and World Equestrian Games medals, won both Burghley and Badminton, had never won in Kentucky. She now has the Rolex jewel to add to her crown of achievements in the equestrian sport of eventing.