Lexington, KY - The excitement of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover is about to begin at the Kentucky Horse Park. Sixty-two horses were presented at the first horse inspection, of which five were held with three being passed upon re-inspection, one being withdrawn from the holding box, and one not being accepted upon re-inspection. Following the first horse inspection, 60 horse-and-rider combinations from seven nations will vie for top honors at America's only CCI4* event which also serves as the Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Championship. With the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games taking place this summer, the event also serves as an important selection trial for riders hoping to be named to the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team.
The competition begins tomorrow with the first of two days of dressage. It will be live streamed on the USEF Network presented by SmartPak. In addition to the broadcast, the order of go, results, and photos can be found here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2014Rolex/.
This year's field is filled with seasoned veterans and first-time competitors in what will surely be an exciting competition. Many of America's top horses and riders hope to prove their mettle this week in a star-studded field. Buck Davidson and Phillip Dutton, both three-time Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champions, have multiple mounts ready to tackle Kentucky's CCI4*. Davidson (Ocala, FL) will ride Cassandra Segal's Ballynoe Castle RM, his partner for the 2013 Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champion title, Caroline and Sherrie Martin's Petite Flower, and Carl and Cassandra Segal's Park Trader. Dutton (West Grove, PA) will also ride three horses; Bruce Duchossois' Mighty Nice, Mr. Medicott Syndicate's Mr. Medicott, and Trading Aces LLC's Trading Aces. Fellow three-time Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champion Kim Severson (Charlottesville, VA) will ride her own Fernhill Fearless in her first CCI4* since 2011.
Two other Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champions look to find success again in Kentucky. Sinead Halpin (Oldwick, N.J.) rode Manoir de Carneville Syndicate LLC's Manoir de Carneville to the national title in 2011 and comes to the Kentucky Horse Park in good form. Allison Springer (Upperville, VA) returns with her 2012 Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champion partner, Arthur Syndicate LLC's Arthur, as well as Copycat Chloe Syndicate LLC's Copycat Chloe, riding the mare in her first CCI4*. Springer's veteran partner Arthur is making his sixth appearance in Kentucky, more than any other horse in the field.
"It's so much fun to be back," said Springer. "It was really hard being here last year as a spectator. Also to have Arthur back, his sixth year, is great. He's 15 going on 7 so I still have plenty of fuel in the tank for cross country day."
Up-and-coming stars of the sport will display their talent at the event. Lillian Heard (Poolesville, MD), who was named to the 2014 Eventing High Performance Winter/Spring Training National List, will tackle her first CCI4* in Kentucky. She will ride long-time partner Share Option, with whom she has performed well at the Advanced and three-star levels.
"It feels very good to be here but I'm very nervous," commented Heard. "Everyone is here and it feels like I finally made it."
Andrew Nicholson (NZL) hopes to achieve a win here with Avebury to be in contention for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing after the pair rose to champion honors for the 2013 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.
An exciting addition to the competition this year is the Dubarry of Ireland Nations Team Challenge, which will award $20,000 in prize money while helping national teams prepare for the team competition at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. For this competition, "Team" is defined as the top three finishers from each nation represented. This will be strictly a "Scoreboard Competition" with the top three scores of each nation counting towards the final placings. The winning team will have the fewest penalties after adding together the final scores of the three highest-placed individuals from each nation. Ribbons will be given to the top four teams and prize money will be awarded to the owners.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover is also part of the FEI Classics™ series. The FEI Classics™ is a series uniting the top end of the international Eventing circuit, namely the five four-star Eventing competitions currently on the calendar.
Dressage begins tomorrow at 10:00am ET with Davidson and Petite Flower.
For more information about the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover, visit www.rk3de.org.
Follow the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/LandRoverUSEventingTeam/.