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Rolex Kentucky Three Day

File:R3DE StadiumJump.jpg
Rider and horse in Show Jumping

The Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event is an eventing competition held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. The Rolex Kentucky is a CCI**** eventing competition, and the only four star show in the US. Four stars is the highest level of competition, the same level of competition as Eventing at the Olympics. The event is sponsored by Rolex watches and is known by many equestrians simply as Rolex. Prize money of $190,000 is distributed among the top placings with $65,000 as well as a Rolex watch being awarded to the first place horse and rider.

Competition takes place over four days (Thursday through Sunday), although the event's name says it continues to indicate a three day competition. Dressage competition is on Thursday and Friday (due to the large number of entries), cross-country is on Saturday, and show-jumping is on Sunday.

Rolex is held the last weekend of April and is the week before the Kentucky Derby.

Rolex is one of the three events in the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. In order to win this prestigious award the rider must win Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, Badminton Horse Trials the first week of May, and Burghley Horse Trials the first week of September all in succession. So far the only rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is Pippa Funnell. The award for this is $250,000 in prize money.


The History of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event

File:R3DE XCountry.JPG
Rider and horse in Cross Country Course

In 1974, Bruce Davidson and the United States Equestrian Team won individual and team gold at the World Championships held in Burghley, England. This gave the United States the right to hold the next World Championships four years later, in 1978. The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky was due to open around the same time, and plans were made to hold the World Championships there.

Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI) was formed to as a non-profit organization to help plan the competition and raise public awareness. The first horse trials at the Kentucky Horse Park was held in 1976, to prepare. In 1977, the National Pony Club Rally and the North American Junior Three-Day Event Championships was also held there.

The 1978 event had more than 170,000 spectators and added more than $4 million to the local economy. The event was broadcast worldwide, as well as nationally on CBS. The success of the World Championships helped to convince the EEU to continue the event annually. Today, the event is broadcast worldwide in 18 languages.

File:Rolex Bridge.JPG
Rider and horse negotiating a rather difficult jump

Although the event began as an advanced three-day, and later included open intermediate and preliminary competitions, today it only holds the highest level: the CCI****. Intermediate-level competition was held in 1979 and from 1985-1981. An Advanced-level CCI was held from 1980-1999 up to the *** level, with Advanced Horse Trials (non-CCI) also held from 1992-1996. The CCI**** was begun in 1998, and has been held annually to this day. Since 2000, the CCI**** is the only competition held during this time, and the preliminary, intermediate, and CCI*** levels are not offered.

File:2007-04-27 15-17-13-02.jpg
Rider and horse during the Dressage test.

Rolex Kentucky had also hoped to continue the classic format, despite the other major events around the world switching to the short format. Originally, the plan was to alternate years, offering the short format in even-numbered years as preparation for the Olympic games or the World Championship, while running the classic format in odd-numbered years. However, in 2006 it was announced that, due to lack of funds and interest from upper level riders, the event would only offer the short format. Therefore, all competition run before 2005 (excluding the 2004 Modified division) was run "classic format," and the 2006 event onward will be run in the "short format."

The CCI****

The CCI**** competition was first suggested in 1994 by Denny Emerson, who believed The United States had enough competitors at this high level to warrant the development of a four star. Previously, American riders trained in England when they were preparing for international competition, as the country had the only two annual CCI**** at that time: Badminton and Burghley. The USET began making plans in 1996, and held the country's first and the world's third annual four-star competition at the Kentucky Horse Park in 1998.

Physicality of the Sport

This sport takes many different precautions concerning the horse’s health. Two horses died of a heart attack on the course.[1]

Self-efficacy is a way to assess themselves and the horse using a scientific method. Evaluating the health of the horse is important because the horse could easily get injured.[2]

A study was done to compare the heart rate between a trained and untrained horse. The results show that trained horses do not have more stress or pain in comparison with untrained horses. However, if evaluated 30 minutes before competition, the trained horse would show less stress. According to this experiment the training method, “Deep and Round”, put more stress on the horse.[3]

Previous Rider/Horse Winners

  • 1979 Modified Open Intermediate 3-Day (No Roads & Tracks): Juliet Bishop (CAN)/ Taxi
  • 1981 Modified Advanced 3-Day (USET Selection Trials): James C. Wofford/ Carawich
  • 1985 Advanced 3-Day (CCI): Derek di Grazia/ Sasquatch
  • 1987 Advanced 3-Day (CCI): Kerry Millikin/ The Pirate
  • 1990 Advanced 3-Day (CCI**)- World Championships Selection Trial: David O'Connor/ Wilton Fair
  • 1991 Advanced 3-Day (CCI***): Karen Lende/ Mr. Maxwell
  • 1992 Advanced 3-Day (CCI***)- Olympic Selection Trial: Stuart Young-Black (CAN)/ Von Perrier
  • 1994 Advanced 3-Day (CCI***)- Olympic Selection Trial: Julie Gomena/ Treaty
  • 1996 Advanced 3-Day (CCI***)- USET Selection Trial: Stephen Bradley/ Dr. Dolittle
  • 1997 Advanced 3-Day (CCI***)- USET Selection Trial: Karen O'Connor/ Worth the Trust
  • 1998 CCI****: Nick Larkin (NZL)/ Red; CCI***: Tiffani Loudon/ Makabi
  • 1999 CCI****: Karen O'Connor/ Prince Panache; CCI***: Kimberly Vinoski/ Over the Limit
  • 2004 CCI****: Kim Severson/ Winsome Adante; Bayer Modified (without steeplechase) Four Star Winner: Darren Chiacchia/Windfall II
  • 2006 CCI**** without steeplechase: Andrew Hoy (AUS)/ Master Monarch


  1. Thomas, Katie. "Equestrians' Deaths Spread Unease in Sports Growing Ranks." New York Times. April 9, 2008.
  2. Beauchamp, Mark R. "Self-efficacy and Other-Efficacy in Dyadic Performance: Riding as one in Equestrian Eventing." Journal of Sported and Exercise Psychology. June 2008.
  3. van Breda, Eric. "A Nonnatural head-neck Position (Rollkur) during Training Results in Less Acute Stress in Elite, Trained, Dressage horses." Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 2006.

External links


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