by Kathleen Landwehr
The excitement of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover, was the only thing keeping participants and spectators warm – as the ground jury accepted the 46 horses brought forward for first inspections in wet and windy conditions.
Riders from seven nations – the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and Ecuador – will vie for top honors at America’s only CCI4* event. It also serves as the Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Championship.
America’s top horses and riders are looking to prove their mettle this week in this star-studded field sprinkled with new up-coming talent. Three-time Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champion Phillip Dutton will ride Bruce Duchossois’ Mighty Nice and Team Rebecca, LLC’s Fernhill Eagle.
Two-time Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champion Buck Davidson will ride three horses; Carl and Cassandra Segal’s Park Trader, Leigh Mesher’s Mar De Amor, and Cassandra Segal’s Ballynoe Castle RM.
“I am very excited to be here. I think I am on a really, really good quality horse and I can’t wait to get started,” said Boyd Martin about riding Trading Aces LLC’s Trading Aces in the horse’s first CCI4* event.
Future stars of the sport will be displaying their talent at the event. Land Rover grant recipient from the 2012 Boekelo CCIO3*, Jennie Brannigan, will contest Kentucky’s CCI4* for the first time with Nina Gardner’s Cambalda.
“I think we are as ready as we are going to be. I am excited,” said Brannigan about tackling Kentucky with Cambalda. “He is a good horse. I have gotten to ride him in Europe a couple times so I think all that experience is going to hopefully help me handle the pressure of being here.”
Two 2013 Developing Riders/Eventing 25 List riders, Meghan O’Donoghue with her own Pirate and Caitlin Silliman with her own Catch a Star, will be competing in their first CCI4*.
Andrew Nicholson, who rides for New Zealand, says he hopes to achieve a win here with one of his two mounts to be in contention for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. He won the 2012 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing awards $350,000 to the successive winner of Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, and Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
After winning the 2011 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain is currently in the running to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. After the 2012 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials was canceled due to excessive rain leading up to the event, a win next week at the 2013 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials could win Fox-Pitt the coveted title.
The competition begins Thursday at 10AM with Fox-Pitt and Seacookie TSF in dressage.