Dutch Rider Tim Lips Leads Rolex Dressage after First Day

With 22 riders making up the largest foreign contingent to ever compete at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, it was no surprise that the European delegation made a strong showing yesterday, the first day of dressage. Tim Lips of the Netherlands grabbed first place, riding Concrex Oncarlos to the score of 42.0. British riders Oliver Townend, on Carousel Quest (45.2), and William Fox-Pitt, on Navigator (46.7), settled for second and third.

Jolie Sexson, of Martinez, Calif., claimed fourth place on Killian O'Connor (47.3), and Corinne Ashton, of Princeton, Mass., claimed fifth place on Dobbin (47.7).

The remaining 26 horses will perform their dressage tests today, beginning at 10:00 a.m. and ending 4:22 p.m.

Lips, 23, had never been to the United States before, although he and Concrex Oncarlos finished 21st at the 2008 Olympics. "I thought that if he was relaxed today, he would do a really good job," said Lips, who's been training in dressage with Olympic gold medalist Anky van Grunsven, also from the Netherlands, for the last year.

"It's great to be in the top here--much better than being at the end," Lips said. Concrex Oncarlos is a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.

Townend, 26, called his performance today "a great start." But he added, "I'd rather be here for the press conference after show jumping on Sunday."

Fox-Pitt, 40, has been a star of British eventing for more than a decade, winning other four-stars and riding on his country's Olympic and World Championship teams. But this is Navigator's first four-star event, and Fox-Pitt was pleasantly surprised to have placed third. He'll ride again tomorrow afternoon, on Seacookie.

"There are quite a few good horses still to go tomorrow, and I suspect that the judges are probably saving some of their 9s and 10s for them," said Fox-Pitt on Thursday.

The three judges are David Lee of Ireland, Marilyn Payne of the United States, and Nicoli Fife of New Zealand.

The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, a part of the HSBC FEI Classics Series, will run a CCI4* and the 12th championship for the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation Pinnacle Cup. The event draws more than 100,000 spectators and millions more via worldwide telecasts including a one-hour special in the United States on NBC on Sunday, May 3.

For more information on the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, please visit the Rolex Kentucky Web site.  

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