50 Horses to Compete in Rolex Event

A field of 50 horses is set to compete in the 2009 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, which starts today. Riders presented 52 horses at Wednesday's horse inspection, but two riders decided to withdraw their mounts after the three-member ground jury held them for re-inspection.

The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, a part of the HSBC FEI Classics Series, will run a CCI4* and the 12th championship for the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation Pinnacle Cup. More than 100,000 spectators attend the event, with millions more viewing via worldwide telecasts including a one-hour special in the United States on NBC on Sunday, May 3.

New facility

Rolex competitors will ride their dressage tests and show jump in the new stadium.

This year's field will include riders from nine countries in addition to the United States. The two horses withdrawn were both U.S. entries: Orion (Craig Thompson) and ESB Irish Doctrine (Ashley Leith).

Just prior to the first horse inspection, more than 250 people gathered at the Kentucky Horse Park for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the rebuilt outdoor stadium, where dressage and show jumping will be contested during the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The new grandstand seats 7,000 fans, and the stadium's total capacity during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be 30,000.

Kentucky Horse Park Executive Director John Nicholson called the new stadium "an elegant solution to what was a dilemma" because it will be a perfect competitive centerpiece for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, yet be suitable for the dozens of competitions held annually at the Kentucky Horse Park and be expandable for future competitions.

As 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 U.S. Olympic Medalists David and Karen O'Connor, Kim Severson, and Phillip Dutton; New Zealand's Blyth Tait and Nick Larkin; Pippa Funnell of Great Britain, and Andrew Hoy and Clayton Fredericks of Australia.

Connaught, Rolex Kentucky Winner

2008 Rolex Champion Phillip Dutton & Connaught
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The $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is awarded to any rider who wins the Rolex Kentucky, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton, and Land Rover Burghley Four-Star Events in succession. In 2003, Pippa Funnell of Great Britain became the first--and to date, only--rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.

Eventing fans will have the opportunity to watch live action from Rolex Kentucky on Pay-Per View Webcasts on rk3de.org, featuring coverage of dressage on April 23-24 and of cross-country on April 25. Free live coverage of the show jumping on April 26 will be available online at universalsports.com.  

For more information on the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, please visit the Rolex Kentucky Web site.  

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