After hours of hard riding in pouring rain on Saturday, the lead after the cross-country competition at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event came down to one second.
New Zealand rider Tim Price and Wesko were tied for the lead after the dressage phase. On Saturday, Price and Dash zipped around the nearly 4-mile course cleanly, clearing all 29 jumps and finishing inside the time of 11 minutes and 6 seconds to stay on their score of 36.3.
Meanwhile the co-leader, Germany's Michael Jung on wonder horse Sam, had an uncharacteristic lapse: Jung finished 1 second over the optimal time, adding 0.4 penalty points to his score to put him less than half-point behind going into Sunday's stadium jumping.
Asked later if he was sad about that one second, Jung said: "No. ... Yeah, OK, a little bit. But I'm very happy with my round."
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Jung also is in third place with his other horse, the mare Fischerrocana, with a score of 39.3, so if Price knocks down a rail Sunday, Jung could take the first and second spots.
William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero, last year's Rolex Kentucky winners, will enter the final contest in fourth place with a score of 46.9.
Boyd Martin, riding Master Frisky, is the top American, in sixth place with 48.6.
While there were several slips and bobbles amid bad weather on the cross-country course Saturday, there were no major falls and no injuries. A total of 46 horses completed the course, with six going clear and inside the time.
Course designer Derek di Grazia said afterward that he was gratified with the result.
"On a day like today, with the way the weather is and the going, the horses handled the jumps quite well," he said. "In that respect, I was quite happy. Especially since all the horses ... came home safe."
The gloomy forecast and at times heavy rain didn't keep the fans away, either; 31,586 came to watch the action.
Molly Gucci and her friends drove six hours from Michigan to see Jung and Sam, gold medalists in the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington and the 2012 Olympics in London.
"We come to see the riders in person," Gucci said.
A new course layout gave spectators lots of spots to get up close and personal with the riders and jumps.
"Are they really going to jump through that?" spectators asked of the keyhole at Fence 16 at the top of a mound.
As they waited for the first rider to arrive at the Head of the Lake water jump, Jeanne Rankin and Catherine Campbell were swathed in rain gear. The mother and daughter drove from Boston for their first Rolex Kentucky, and a little rain — or even a lot — wasn't going to keep them from enjoying it.
"No way we're missing this," Campbell said. She is an eventer and barn manager back home, while mom is a show jumper.
"I'm a little jealous of myself, just being here," Campbell said.
They did leave the dogs in the hotel. But there were plenty of dogs in every type of rain gear or wrapped in owners' coats.
For those who came unprepared, the most popular freebie of the day was a green poncho given away by Nutrena Feeds. By midday, loads of them dotted the course.
The longest lines were for hot coffee, hot pretzels, hot anything, as the temperature dropped and wind picked up. Ice cream and beer vendors packed up shop.