Four Star Course Taking Shape At Kentucky

Construction on the Cross-Country Course for the United States' first Four Star Three-Day Event to be held April 23-26 at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington has progressed to the extent that Course Designer Michael Etherington-Smith, following a weekend visit Jan. 17-18, anticipates that his next visit over the third weekend in March will be taken up primarily with setting heights and making minor adjustments.

The 1998 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Bayer will be the sole event ever to attempt to produce both four star and three star competitions at the same venue over the same dates. The U.S. Equestrian Team will inaugurate the CCI**** championship with the new USET Pinnacle Trophy for the highest placing U.S. citizen in the four star. The Carimati Cup for the highest placed foreign rider is expected to become more competitive as riders from the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand become more of a presence at Kentucky over the years. The CCI****, which serves as the U.S. Equestrian Team's Spring Championship, will continue at Kentucky through 1999, after which it will move to Jim Richards' Foxhall Farm in Newnan, Ga. in 2000. Rolex Kentucky will additionally serve as a Selection Trial for the 1998 World Three-Day Event Championships of the World Equestrian Games in Italy in October.

The two courses will share only four single obstacles, the first, second, fourth, and last. the two hallmark complexes of Kentucky, the Lexington Bank in the third of the course, and the Head of the Lake in the center of the course, along with the newer water obstacle four obstacles before the lake, will be shared but there will be different routes for each division.

The Sunken Road, on the three star course the last two years, is being completely redone to present a four star question at the beginning of the last third of the course. A new coffin in the same area will keep three star competitors on their toes.

A new four star complex just two after the Sunken Road promises to provide a variety of challenges over the next few years as it is further developed. Etherington-Smith directed Course Builder Pete Costello to create a “quarry” with various dips and swales. From virtually flat ground, Costello and his two assistants, Etherington-Smith's oldest son Charles and Richard Taylor, carved out what has now been termed “The Hollow” since it resembles many earth basins created by the glaciers that formed Kentucky.

The four star course will have a total of 29 obstacles with the maximum 45 jumping efforts over a distance of approximately 6,840 meters. The three star course will have a total of 27 obstacles with 39 jumping efforts over approximately 5,860 meters.

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