Lexington, KY - The weather has been the topic of conversation at the 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone as a rain-plagued Kentucky was battered once again on Wednesday morning.
But the show goes on at the Kentucky Horse Park.
The first horse inspection was delayed one hour from its rescheduled 10 a.m. start time and about halfway through the inspection the sun even began to shine. Due to tornadic activity in the area, the eventing horses were moved from their stabling to the Alltech Arena where they peacefully coexisted with the reining horses (in town for the inaugural Kentucky Reining Cup CRI5*) while the storm passed.
Forty-five horses were presented for America's only CCI4* and of those, 29 are vying for USEF National CCI4* Championship honors.
Buck Davidson, USEF National Champion from 2003 and 2009, just returned from the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials where he rode BallyNoe Castle RM to 21st place. He'll ride Titanium in Kentucky this weekend. The pair was 16th in 2010 in the horse's first CCI4* and Davidson is looking forward to one of his favorite events.
"It's always awesome to come to Kentucky," said Davidson. "Every year it's like Christmas Day. It's the best event we have in the U.S. and one of the best in the world. The fact that I had the chance to do my first Badminton this year and come here is pretty special. These are two really nice horses."
Both events are part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing which also includes the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Any rider who wins all three events in succession takes a $350,000 bonus for their achievement. Eventing legend Mark Todd (New Zealand), the winner from Badminton last weekend with NZB Land Vision, has made the trip from Great Britain to attempt to win the second leg in Kentucky. He will ride Grass Valley this week.
Last year's champion, Great Britain's William Fox-Pitt, returns to defend his title, this time riding Neuf de Couers. Neuf de Couers, like Fox-Pitt's winning mount from 2010, is contesting his first CCI4* in Kentucky.
Dressage gets underway at 10 a.m. Thursday. Allison Springer will lead off with the first of her two horses, Arthur.
Photo: Buck Davidson and Titanium at the jog. Photo by Joanie Morris/USEF Archives