Lexington, KY - Defending champion and Olympic gold medalist Michael Jung of Germany heads an impressive list of entries for the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Presented by Land Rover. Known as the "Best Weekend All Year," the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event returns to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, April 28-May 1.
The starting field features 71 riders from nine countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and USA, with some riders entered with up to three horses. Joining Jung are some of eventing's most famous names including Sir Mark Todd and Blyth Tait of New Zealand and U.S. Olympic veterans Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Kim Severson and Will Coleman.
At stake is $350,000 in prize money, a $50,000 increase from last year, as well as a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, which is awarded to any rider who wins theRolex Kentucky, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and Land Rover Burghley 'Four Star' Events in succession.
As winner of last fall's event at Burghley, Jung is looking to add the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam (Rolex Kentucky) to put him in position to becoming only the second rider (along with Pippa Funnell of Great Britain in 2003) to win the Grand Slam, when he rides at Badminton the week after Rolex Kentucky.
This year's Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event has added importance as it is also a qualifying competition for riders seeking to be part of the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer.
Defending Rolex Kentucky champion Jung is entered on Fischerrocana FST, the horse he rode to victory last year. Last year the duo completed on their dressage score of 39.3 penalty points to claim the $100,000 winning purse along with the Rolex timepiece that goes to the winning rider.
Jung, the world's leading event rider, also took third place aboard his Olympic mount La Biosthetique Sam FBW. He is the first event rider ever to hold the Olympic, World and European titles simultaneously, winning the Individual gold medal at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) and double gold medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games along with three consecutive European Championships.
New Zealand will be represented by a particularly strong line-up of riders, including two of the sport's all-time legends. Two-time Olympic gold medalist and six-time Olympian Sir Mark Todd will be competing NZB Campino, the horse he rode at the 2012 Olympic Games in London where they won a Team bronze medal.
Voted the "Equestrian of the Century" by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) in 2000, Todd has won almost every Four Star three-day event in the world, although thus far the Rolex Kentucky title has eluded him despite his attempts in 2014 and 2011. Blyth Tait, a four-time Olympian who won the individual Gold Medal in 1996, is a former World Champion and was the Rolex Kentucky Champion in 2000. He will be riding Xanthus III.
Among those entered to compete in this year's Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event are:
- Michael Jung of Germany, double gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Individual gold medalist at the 2010 World Equestrian Games™ and Team gold and Individual silver medalist at the 2014 World Equestrian Games™. Also won double gold medals at three consecutive European Championships (2011, 2013, 2015) as well as individual gold and team silver in 2003. He also won the 2009 World Cup Final.
- Sir Mark Todd of New Zealand, a six-time Olympic veteran with two Olympic Individual gold medals (1988, 1984), Team silver (1992), Individual bronze (2000) and two Team bronze medals (2012 & 1988). A five-time WEG competitor with two Team golds (1998, 1990), Individual silver (1998) and Team bronze (2010). He has won the Badminton CCI**** four times (2011, 1996, 1994, 1980) and Burghley CCI**** five times (1999, 1997, 1991, 1990, 1987).
- Blyth Tait of New Zealand, a four-time Olympian who has won Individual gold (1996), Team silver (1992), Individual bronze (1992) and Team bronze medals (1996). Double gold medalist at the 1998 World Equestrian Games™ and winner of the Burghley CCI 4* (2001, 1998) and Rolex Kentucky CCI 4* (2000)
- Phillip Dutton of the U.S.A., a five-time Olympic veteran with two Team gold medals (2000, 1996) for his native Australia and a Team bronze (2004) for the U.S. A six-time WEG veteran and the 2008 Rolex Kentucky champion. Two-time Pan American Games Team gold medalist (2015, 2007) and Individual silver medalist (2007).
- Joe Meyer of New Zealand, Olympic veteran (2008) and WEG competitor (2006).
- Jonathan Paget of New Zealand, 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist and two-time WEG competitor (2014, 2010).
- Tim Price of New Zealand, WEG veteran (2014). Placed second to Jung at both Rolex Kentucky and Burghley in 2015.
- Boyd Martin of the U.S.A., a 2012 Olympic veteran and two-time WEG competitor (2014, 2010). Team gold medalist 2015 Pan American Games.
- Kim Severson of the U.S.A., Olympic veteran winning Individual silver and Team bronze (2004) and three-time Rolex Kentucky champion (2005, 2004, 2002). WEG Team gold medalist (2002).
- William Coleman of the U.S.A., 2012 Olympic veteran
- Marilyn Little of the U.S.A., Individual and Team gold medalist at the 2015 Pan American Games.
- Lauren Kieffer of the U.S.A., Team gold medalist at the 2015 Pan American Games. Winner of the Pinnacle Trophy (USEF Four Star Championship) at 2014 Rolex Kentucky.
- Buck Davidson of the U.S.A., WEG veteran (2014, 2010). Two-time U.S. Olympic Team Alternate (2012, 2008). Winner of the Pinnacle Trophy (USEF Four Star Championship) at 2013 Rolex Kentucky.
- Jessica Phoenix of Canada, an Olympic and WEG veteran as well as Pan American Games Gold medalist (2011), silver (2015, 2011) and Team bronze (2015).
- Kyle Carter of Canada, Olympic veteran (2008), WEG Team silver medalist (2010).
In addition to these veterans of international competition, many more of the sport's leading riders from the U.S. and abroad are entered to compete. The full list of entries is available on line at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event website at www.RK3DE.org/accepted-list/.
"With the Olympic Games taking place this summer, this year's Rolex Kentucky is especially important and the equestrian world will be eagerly watching the results," said Lee Carter, executive director of Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI), organizer of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. "We're welcoming some of the very best names in the sport of eventing; -- these are the world Olympians you'll be hearing about at Rio. It's going to be a must-see competition this year!"
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event 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 Olympic Games, World Championships, and six annual events around the world. "Rolex Kentucky" is the only Four Star event in the Western Hemisphere. The 2015 event hosted more than 75,000 attendees over the four days of competition with 31,000-plus cheering fans on cross-country day alone.
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.