The gates of Kentucky Horse Park won’t open for the 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event until April 27, but already the electricity in the air can be felt. There is a buzz swirling around all things Rolex Kentucky. This show is the most prestigious eventing competition in North America, the only FEI four-star event—that’s Olympic level—in the U.S. and one of the legs of the Rolex Triple Crown of eventing (Badminton and Burghley being the other legs). The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is to eventing what the Kentucky Derby is to horseracing. (Of course, that also means it’s a fabulous party.)
The rider entry lists reads like a who’s who of international eventing competition, and includes many World Equestrian Games medalists and Olympians: Bruce Davidson, Jr., Phillip Dutton, Karen O’Connor, Mark Todd and Mary King, to name a few.
The gates of Kentucky Horse Park will open on the 27th, Dressage is the first phase, on the 28th and 29th, followed by Cross-Country on the 30th and Show Jumping on May 1st, followed by the awards ceremony.
What makes Rolex so exciting is not only the high-caliber competition, but also the many activities taking place outside the arenas. Spectators are treated to a celebration of equestrian competition that includes lively entertainment, demonstrations and fabulous shopping. More than 100,000 enthusiasts from around the world are expected to attend, and each year Rolex Kentucky gets better for its fans. This year, spectators can purchase reserved tailgating spaces along sections of the Cross-Country course to get a course-side view of the competition.
Additionally, equine enthusiasts can watch the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup, which will debut alongside the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and it will feature Team Ariat riders Shawn Flarida and Lyle Lovett (yes, the crooner himself). The Ariat Team will be competing against the best Reiners in the world in this inaugural event. The reining competition will feature an FEI CRI5* competition—the sport’s highest level—and the first-ever World Championship Freestyle. Ariat, the Official Apparel and Footwear of Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, is offering opportunities to both buy and win great Ariat gear. Spectators can buy the Rolex Kentucky Ariat Collector’s Jacket, which can be pre-ordered online and then picked up at the Kentucky Three-Day Shop. Feeling lucky? Then enter Ariat’s contest to win $1200 in prizes, including the collector’s jacket and Ariat Monaco boots.
As the many Rolex clocks that decorate Kentucky Horse Park tick closer to opening day, follow Olympic silver medalist and Ariat correspondent Gina Miles as she posts regular updates on her blog here on the Ariat community page. She will keep you informed, get you in the Rolex Kentucky spirit and take you behind the scenes of the most prestigious equestrian event in the U.S.
Don’t you wish those Rolex watches would tick faster?