Lexington, KY- All 73 horses presented to the three-member ground jury will start on Thursday in the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover.
President Ernst Topp of Germany, Sandy Phillips of Great Britain and Andrew Bennie of New Zealand evaluated the fitness of horses from the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Germany, Australia and Mexico before a keen crowd of about 1,000 fans.
Prominent among the starting field are four former Rolex Kentucky champions: Phillip Dutton, who won in 2008 on Connaught; Michael Jung of Germany, who won in 2015 on Fischerrocana FST; Blyth Tait of New Zealand, who won in 2000 on Welton Envoy; and Kim Severson, who won in 2002, 2004 and 2005 on Winsome Adante.
This year, Dutton will ride Fernhill Fugitive, Fernhill Cubalawn and Mighty Nice; Tait, the 1996 Olympic Gold medalist and 1998 World Champion, will ride Xanthus III; Severson will ride Fernhill Fearless; and Jung will aim to defend his title once again on Fischerrocana FST.
As always, the riders will be aiming for the top prizes that will be awarded on Sunday, including the coveted Rolex watch.
The total prize money is $300,000, of which $100,000 will go to the winner. In addition, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is an Olympic selection event for the United States.
For the fourth year, The Dubarry of Ireland Team Challengewill award $20,000 in prize money. Teams of three or four riders will be selected based on their FEI World Ranking.
Mixed nation teams will be permitted, but a nation cannot be represented on more than one team. Competitors who qualify to represent their nation and enter more than one horse in Rolex Kentucky can select which of their horses to be on the team. Teams will be announced after the first horse inspection.
Dressage competition gets underway on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. and resumes Friday at 8:30 a.m. Saturday features the cross-country phase, the heart of the competition, with the climactic show jumping phase concluding the event on Sunday.
Known as the "Best Weekend All Year," the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is being held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, April 28-May 1.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover is the nation's premier Three-Day Event and one of the most prestigious equestrian competitions in the world.
The Fédération Equestre Internationale (International Equestrian Federation - FEI), the world's governing body of equestrian sports, has designated the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event as a four-star eventing competition, the highest designation, which is given only to the World Championships and six annual events around the world. "Rolex Kentucky" is the only four-star event in the Western Hemisphere.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event will be broadcast on NBC on Sunday, May 8, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. EDT. USEFNetwork.com will livestream the competition in its entirety live as it happens and will also have the coverage available on demand. FEITV.org will also livestream the event internationally.
Equestrian Events, Inc. is a non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation that was established initially to produce the 1978 World Three-Day Event Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the success of those championships, EEI established an annual event that evolved into the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover.
For more information, or to purchase tickets to the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover, please visit the Rolex Kentucky website at www.RK3DE.org.