Lexington, USA, 13 April 2015 – The sport of three-day eventing is considered to be the ultimate test of horse and rider. To win, the combination must endeavour to succeed faultless performances in the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country and show jumping. All three elements requiring a unique range of skills; precision, elegance, harmony, bravery, physical and mental fortitude, balance and perfect timing.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are considered the greatest three-day events in the world. United, they form the sport’s most valuable prize, the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
The first of these takes place from 23-26 April, in the heartland of the United States at The Kentucky Horse Park. The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is the only four-star competition in the continent – the highest level possible.
This year’s edition has attracted one of the most exciting international fields the event has seen in years. For the first time in her Eventing career, Rolex Eventing Testimonee and 2006 World Champion Zara Phillips will be competing at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. She takes with her High Kingdom, who she won silver medals with at the 2012 Olympic Games and 2014 World Equestrian Games. The supremely talented British rider will face challenges from many of the globes finest riders. Among them, the phenomenal German Michael Jung, who won individual gold at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010 and who is the current Olympic title holder.
Britain’s William Fox-Pitt has won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event trophy three times - in 2010, 2012 and 2014 – and he will return with a top team of horses to defend his title. All of North America’s best equestrian athletes will be competing at Rolex Kentucky this year. Among them will be the 2008 winner Phillip Dutton, Olympic team member Boyd Martin and Buck Davidson, son of Bruce Davidson, who won the 1978 World Championships at Kentucky – the first major event to be held at the venue. The European challengers also include Britain’s Nicola Wilson and Francis Whittington, and Germany’s Andreas Dibowski.
Rolex has been closely associated with this exceptional equestrian challenge in the beautiful surroundings of the Kentucky Horse Park since 1981. Its facilities are recognised as the best of any three-day event in the world, and its cross-country course, devised by the United States’ top course-designer Derek Di Grazia, is renowned for testing the courage and stamina of both horse and rider. Rolex’s support has seen the event develop into one of the most prestigious in the world, with top riders from round the globe now vying to compete there.
When Rolex was inspired to link the three foremost eventing competitions in the world into a Grand Slam in 2001, it was immediately apparent that it would require a series of outstanding performances from a remarkable athlete to complete the challenge. Kentucky, and Badminton – the British horse trials on which the modern sport of eventing was founded – run two weeks apart in the spring, and Burghley, in the east of England, is the autumn highlight of the global sport. All three have stunning settings and attract vast crowds over the four days of competition.
To date, only one rider – Rolex Eventing Testimonee Pippa Funnell – has won this most prestigious series. In 2003 the much-medalled mainstay of British teams for many years took the Rolex Kentucky crown on Primmore’s Pride. She progressed to Badminton a week later and won there on Supreme Rock, her double European Champion, and added the Burghley title that autumn on Primmore’s Pride – beating Zara Phillips into second place on her four-star debut at the same time. Pippa Funnell immediately joined the ranks of sporting greats, respected by her peers and the media alike as an exceptional athlete. Since then, two of the three legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing have been won by four riders: the Australian Andrew Hoy, Britain’s William Fox-Pitt and Oliver Townend, and the New Zealand hero of six Olympic Games and current live Rolex Grand Slam contender, Andrew Nicholson. None of these top-class riders have yet succeeded in triumphing over the series and winning the final element of the Rolex Grand Slam.
PREVIOUS KENTUCKY WINNERS
2014 William Fox-Pitt (GBR), Bay My Hero
2013 Andrew Nicholson (NZL), Quimbo
2012 William Fox-Pitt (GBR), Parklane Hawk
2011 Mary King (GBR), Kings Temptress
2010 William Fox-Pitt (GBR), Cool Mountain
2009 Lucinda Federicks (AUS), Headly Britannia
2008 Phillip Dutton (USA), Connaught
2007 Clayton Fredericks (AUS), on Ben Long Time
2006 Andrew Hoy (AUS), Master Monarch
2005 Kim Severson-Vinoski (USA), Winsome Adante
2004 Kim Severson-Vinoski (USA), Winsome Adante
2003 Pippa Funnell (GBR), Primmore’s Pride
2002 Kim Severson-Vinoski (USA), Winsome Adante
2001 David O’Connor (USA), Giltedge
2000 Blythe Tait (NZL), Welton Envoy
1999 Karen O’Connor (USA), Prince Panache
1998 Nick Larkin (NZL), Red
1997 Karen O’Connor (USA), Worth the Trust
1996 Stephen Bradley (USA), Dr. Dolittle
1995 David O’Connor (USA), Custom Made
1994 Julie Gomena (USA), Treaty
1993 Bruce Davidson (USA), Happy Talk
1992 Stuart Young-Black (USA), Von Perrier
1991 Karen Lende (USA), Mr Maxwell
1990 David O’Connor (USA), Wilton Fair
1989 Bruce Davidson (USA), Doctor Peaches
1988 Bruce Davids (USA), Doctor Peaches
1987 Kerry Millikin (USA), The Pirate
Leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex, headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as chronometers for their precision, are symbols of excellence, performance and prestige. Pioneer in the development of the wristwatch as early as 1905, the brand is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism introduced in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex also actively supports the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities, as well as philanthropic programmes.
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