Holder Leads After First Day of Rolex Dressage

Becky Holder and Courageous Comet lead the competition at the 2008 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Farnam following the first day of dressage competition. Further sweetening their success, Holder's 39.3-scoring ride took place on her 39th birthday.

"I'm absolutely over the top," said Holder about leading the event, which also serves as the 11th USEF National CCI**** Championship. "It's my birthday and it is a very, very good birthday present."

In an impressive display of movement and accuracy they stormed to the lead with a score of 39.3, more than 10 points clear of second placed Stephen Bradley and Brandenburg's Joshua who finished on a score of 50.7.

Holder, from Mendota Heights, Minn., rode confidently throughout her test and was rewarded for her stellar effort. Holder said her favorite part of her test was the improvement in the pair's lateral work.

"I really liked the canter half passes and I like the extended canter," said Holder. "All the lateral work was better than he normally does. He loves the crowds at Kentucky--he really, really does."

Comet, who is owned by Becky's husband Tom, is a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. A former racehorse, Comet was stakes-placed in New York on the racetrack before turning to eventing, a career in which he has also found tremendous success.

Fifteenth at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in 2006 after a 13th place finish at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event earlier that year, Comet most recently won the Advanced at the Southern Pines Horse Trials in March 2008. He has continued to improve throughout the build-up to this year's CCI****.

Nearly white, Comet also has plenty of personality.

"He loves his tongue to be played with and he can be really grumpy in his stall," said Holder. "He likes to spook at the rail in the dressage arena and skip over the harrow marks in the ring. He didn't do that today, but he thought about it."

Another former racehorse, Brandenburg's Joshua, was the fifth horse in the ring and put in a very solid effort. Ridden by 1996 Rolex Kentucky CCI*** winner Bradley, "Josh's" test showcased dynamite halts. Owned by Southern Edition Farm, Josh was a member of the gold medal winning team at the Pan American Games in 2003.

"I was really, really happy with Josh and hindsight being 20/20 I should have been braver and ridden more forward," said Bradley of the 13-year-old gelding. "He was rideable throughout the whole test and our score is a personal best for us, so I'm really pleased."

Bradley will also ride From, a 15-year-old Russian Thoroughbred, tomorrow afternoon.

"I'm excited about From," said Bradley who lives in Leesburg, Va. "He's a little wound up still so it is good he goes late in the day and I'm excited to ride him."

Rounding out the top three is Canadian Olympic veteran, Mike Winter riding Kingpin.

Dressage resumes Friday morning at 10 a.m. Three-time USEF National CCI**** Champion Kim Severson leads things off with Tipperary Liadhnan.

For complete results, see rk3de.org.

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