Action Starts at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event

Some 45 horses are set to start the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Farnam, on Thursday, April 26, after passing this afternoon's first veterinary inspection. The three-member ground jury decided after careful and lengthy deliberation not to pass one horse this afternoon, but that one horse was Ocotillo, the mount of Lexington-based Cathy Wieschhoff.

Dressage started at 9:30 this morning with three-time Rolex Kentucky winner Karen O'Connor riding Theodore O'Connor, the first pony to ever start ate Rolex Kentucky. O'Connor, who will also ride the only slightly larger Upstage late on Friday afternoon, is one of only two previous Rolex Kentucky winners riding this year. The other is Bruce Davidson Sr., on Jam.

That leaves this year's contest wide-open, but both Great Britain and Australia have sent formidable trios. The British have sent Olympians Ian Stark, on Full Circle II, Mary King, on Apache Sauce, and Polly Stockton, on Tangleman. Stockton and Tangleman have been runners-up at Rolex Kentucky twice before.

Representing Australia will be Wendy Schaeffer, the best-scoring member of the Australian gold-medal team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Heath Ryan, who coached the Australian team to their team gold medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, will ride Flame. And Clayton Fredericks, winner of the 2006 FEI Eventing World Cup Final, will ride Ben Alongtime, on whom he won that title.

Phillip Dutton, who rode on the Australian gold-medal teams in 1996 and 2000, will ride for the first time at Rolex Kentucky under the U.S. flag. Dutton changed his citizenship in December, having lived in Pennsylvania since 1993 and having been the U.S. Eventing Association Rider of the Year for most of the last decade. He'll be on Connaught today and the final rider in the ring on Friday, on Truluck.

An unusually large field of four young riders will be competing for the J.D. Reeves Perpetual Trophy this year. Sara Mittleider of Idaho (who has twice completed Rolex Kentucky on her El Primero), Tiana Coudray of California, and Hannah Sue Bennett of Kentucky will each ride on Thursday. Emilee Libbey of New Jersey will ride on Friday morning.

The only four-star event in the Western Hemisphere, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is the premier competition for the top horses and riders in eventing. Past winners include a bevy of Olympic medalists: Bruce Davidson, David and Karen O'Connor and Kim Severson of the United States, New Zealand's Blyth Tait, Pippa Funnell of Great Britain, and Andrew Hoy of Australia.

For more information on the 2007 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Farnam, please visit the Rolex Kentucky website at www.rk3de.org.

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