Photos and story By Lauren R. Giannini
Four-star international eventing takes center stage at Rolex CCI****, presented by Bridgestone, April 28-May 1. One major innovation adding to the excitement allows spectators to watch the cross-country from their own reserved tailgate parking spaces located at strategic sites on the course. Joining the all-star roster of Rolex sponsors, Ariat’s “official apparel and footwear” includes a collector’s event jacket in navy and “Rolex” green within their line of specially designed merchandise.
In addition to Rolex, spectators can catch the action of the Kentucky Reining Cup, which will stage the western hemisphere’s only FEI five-star Concours de Reining International in 2011 and the first-ever World Championship in Freestyle Reining with $25,000 in prize money.
As the premier and only CCI**** in North America, Rolex earned yet another well-deserved accolade from the Kentucky Tourism Council as one of the Top Ten Events of Spring. Spectators can shop until they drop at the International Sponsor Village and Trade Fair with more than 150 booths and a variety of demonstrations. There will be numerous opportunities to meet top riders for signings and SmartPak again offers its course walk with two well-known international event riders.
With one week left at press time until the closing date of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, entries remained on the light side with declarations from 16 American riders. Equine athletes who competed in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are enjoying a relatively easy spring, but you’ll witness the four-star debut of several up-and-coming talents, human and equine. Ten entries from Great Britain included 2010 WEG team gold medalists: two for Mary King and four for William Fox-Pitt. Five horses from Canada and two from New Zealand brought the total to 33 entries (as of March 24th). Many familiar names had yet to declare, no doubt wanting to see how their Advanced horses fared at two important horse trials, Poplar Place Farm in Georgia and Southern Pines in North Carolina, the weekend before the closing date.
Be sure to check out the Featured Riders’ blogs on the Rolex site: Phillip Dutton, Frankie Thieriot, and Debbie Rosen for the home team, Mark Todd and Joe Meyer for New Zealand.