Nicholson Wins His First Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event © Michelle Dunn

Nicholson Wins His First Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Presented by Land Rover

by Marty Bauman
New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson expertly guided Quimbo to master the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover. The pair finished on a score of 41.0.
William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain finished second on Seacookie TSF, and Nicholson also secured third place on Calico Joe.
Nicholson took home the coveted Rolex watch, along with $80,000 – the winner’s share of the $250,000 purse. He also earned $30,000 for securing third place with his second mount. Nicholson also received a $10,000 bonus as the rider earning the best show jumping score while wearing SSG gloves and as the overall winner, in their “Go Low For the Dough” contest.
The victory allows Nicholson a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. That title goes to the rider who can win the four-star three-day events at Rolex Kentucky, Badminton (England) and Burghley (England) in succession. Nicholson won Burghley in September 2012 on Avebury, one of three horses he has entered next weekend to go for the Grand Slam at Badminton.
“Because of the Rolex Grand Slam, this win is even more important than normally winning a four-star. Now I have a chance to win it – if William lets me,” said Nicholson.
Nicholson began the final leg of his quest for victory by guiding Calico Joe to a 12-fault round, after lowering three jumps. Then Fox-Pitt, the 2010 and 2012 winner, easily rode Seacookie to a perfect score, increasing the pressure on Nicholson.
Next, Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM lowered two fences late in the course, for 8 faults, to drop behind Fox-Pitt and to give Nicholson a cushion of two rails on Quimbo. He didn’t need it, as the dark bay gelding floated over the jumps with ease, but finished three seconds over the time allowed, for 3 time faults.
“Quimbo is a very, very smart horse and an unbelievable show jumper. That’s what he’s bred to be,” said Nicholson.
“His breeding isn’t standard for an event horse. It’s good show jumping blood, but it’s not the out-and-out galloping sort of blood,” said Nicholson about the 10 year-old spanish-bred gelding. “I’ve learned this weekend that he’s got enough stamina to do the four-star jumping efforts and the gallop.”

Davidson finished as the best-placed American capturing fourth on Ballynoe Castle RM and winning the Rolex USEF Four-Star Championship. By placing fourth, Davidson, won the Rolex USEF Four-Star Championship for the third time. His father, six-time Rolex Kentucky winner Bruce Davidson, was on stand-by advising and supporting him.

“Rolex Kentucky has been a great place for the Davidsons, and to have both mom and dad here to help me this weekend was pretty cool,” said Buck. “And, no, I’m not going to let my dad borrow the Land Rover that I won yesterday.”

Americans Lynn Synansky, on Donner, and Will Faudree, on Pawlow, finished fifth and sixth.

Only four of the 29 horses who started over Richard Jeffery’s course finished with faultless rounds. In addition to Fox-Pitt, they included Symansky and Donner, Hawley Bennett-Awad on Gin ‘N Juice who came in seventh place, and Peter Barry and Kilrodan Abbot who finished 17th place. Bennett-Awad and Barry represent Canada.
Fox-Pitt also has a shot at winning the Rolex Grand Slam at Badminton. He won Burghley in 2011 and Rolex Kentucky in 2012, but Badminton had to be cancelled due to rain in 2012. So Rolex officials determined if he wins this year’s Badminton event, they will consider it winning the three events in succession.
“We’ve got a few more days of peace before it all kicks off at Badminton. So many things have to come off in a row for either of us,” said Fox-Pitt. “But at the end of the day it probably won’t be either of us. Michael Jung, here we come,” he said.
Jung of Germany won the 2010 World Championships and the 2012 Olympics and is entered at Badminton.