The Northern Hemisphere 5* season kicks off this week at the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event in the United States and there are three Kiwi combinations keen to stake a claim on the podium. Monica Spencer and Artist, Matthew Grayling aboard Trudeau and Joe Meyer with Harbin are on a 40-strong star-stacked entry list for the very popular event.

Monica, who headed back to her Stateside base earlier this year, says Artist is feeling great. They’ve had a few lead-in events, including a dressage show to help settle the nerves. “We are based just 10-minutes from the Kentucky Horse Park,” she says. “To be here in the United States and about to compete at one of the most prestigious events in the world is an incredible privilege and one I hope to make the most of.”

Monica Spencer rides Artist. File Photo. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Taranaki dairy farmer Matthew Grayling is another keen to make the most of every opportunity his trip brings. “I am well aware our task ahead is going to be tough but Trudeau is feeling good,” he says. “He appears to have coped with the travelling so far and has been eating well. We think he will be fit to run the distance we just have to jump some obstacles on our way.”

They too have had some lead-up events and are now ready for the big one. “It’s a big road trip to the event from where we are staying but we are looking forward to getting settled and being in the atmosphere.”

Matthew Grayling rides Trudeau. File Photo. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Joe Meyer says Harbin is feeling great and ready for Kentucky. “He did a couple of easy intermediates early in the season and was third in the 4*-S at Chatt Hills without even running fast. Terra Nova was his last pre run. We had great dressage and showjumping but unfortunately I missed a fence after hurrying to get on him after falling in the water on a young horse. Harbin jumped most of the course and pulled up great. Maybe it was meant to be – I feel like I got all my Kentucky bugs out in one afternoon!”

Kentucky’s 5*-L cross country is again designed by Derek Di Grazia, who has given a little insight into the course – Click here for the Preview

With $US400,000 on the line and a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing for the rider who wins Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley on the trot, there is plenty at stake. New Zealand has a good record at the event, with wins by Andrew Nicholson and Quimbo (2013), Blyth Tait aboard Welton Envoy (2000), and Nick Larkin with Red (1998). Tim and Jonelle Price have both been on the podium in recent times, finishing second and third (2021) respectively, and Tim third aboard Xavier Faere (2019) and second with Wesko (2015).



USA Time

NZ Time

First Horse Inspection

Wednesday 2.00pm

Thursday 6.00am


Thursday 12.15pm

Thursday 4.15am

Dressage – Monica

Thursday 3.12pm

Friday 7.12am

Dressage – Matthew

Thursday 4.06pm

Friday 8.06am

Dressage – Joe

Friday 1.32pm

Saturday 5.32am

Cross Country

Saturday 1.00pm

Sunday 5.00am

Jumping – 1st Group

Sunday 2.00pm

Monday 6.00am

Jumping – 2nd Group

Sunday 3.00pm

Monday 7.00am


Meanwhile, across the Atlantic six Kiwi combos are hunting down Olympic qualifications in the CCI4*-L at Saumur in France. Tim Price is in aboard Happy Boy and Jarillo, Jonelle Price has entered on Senor Crocodillo and McClaren, and Jesse Campbell in on Diachello, and James Avery on Dallas 13.

Competition starts on Thursday (FR time) afternoon with the CCI4*-L dressage, which continues the following day, followed by the cross country on Saturday and showjumping on Sunday. It’s a big field, with 52 combinations from far and wide set to tackle the tests.


Artist (by Guillotine out of Maxamore who is by Volksraad) – owned by Monica and Andrew Spencer
Trudeau (by Magislad out of Clarity who is by Valiant) – owned by Winky Foley
Harbin (by Verglas out of Rainbow City who is by Rainbow Quest) – owned by John, Gay, Ruth and Joe Meyer and Theresa Foote)
Happy Boy (by Indoctro out of W.Amelusina 17 who is by Odermus) – owned by Susan Lamb, Therese Miller and Tim Price
Jarillo (by Dantos out of Fiorilla who is by Alicante) – owned by Lucy Allison, Frances Stead and James and Rachel Good
Diachello (by Diarado out of Viser Cholin who is by Chello I) – owned by Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
Senor Crocodillo (by Connor 48, out of Marni who is by Exorbitant XX) – owned by Alexander and Joseph Giannamore and Jonelle Price
McClaren (by Clarimo out of Toni I who is by Landjunge) – owned by David and Karie Thomson
Dallas 13 (by Dimaggio) – owned by David and Karie Thomson

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ