LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 12, 2012) — The excitement of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone, and the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup returns to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, April 26-29.
This year’s Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event features selection trials to choose the U.S. Eventing team for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The nation’s best horses and riders will be competing in the hopes of earning places on the team for this summer’s Olympics.
This year’s Event also features the 15th Rolex USEF Four Star Championship for the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation Pinnacle Cup, and is part of the HSBC FEI ClassicsTM. Horses and riders from around the world will join their U.S. counterparts in competing for their share of $250,000 in prize money as well as a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing which is awarded to any rider who wins Rolex Kentucky, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and Land Rover Burghley Four Star Events in succession. Former Rolex Kentucky champion William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain, who won his record sixth Burghley championship last fall, will be seeking to win a second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam at Kentucky in the hopes of joining Pippa Funnell of Great Britain, who won it in 2003, as the only rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam.
“There’s no question that 2012 is going to be one of the most exciting years we’ve had,” said Lisa Ball, President of Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI), producer of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup. “The fact that the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is a selection trial for the London Olympics means that Eventing fans will have a chance to see many of the horses and riders who will be riding in this summer’s Olympics right here in Kentucky. Adding to the excitement is the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup that was such a huge hit when it made its debut last year and has quickly established itself as a big crowd favorite.”
As always, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event will feature three distinct phases: Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping. In Dressage, the first phase of the event, horses execute a series of movements while being judged on grace, harmony and precision. During Saturday’s Cross-Country phase, horses and riders gallop across the Kentucky Horse Park countryside at lightning fast speeds. The bravery and stamina of horse and rider are put to the test in this exciting phase, as they must jump a series of imposing obstacles on varied terrain. The final day features Show Jumping where horse and rider try to clear a course of brightly colored and decorated fences in a confined arena.
Past winners of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the only Four Star Three-Day Event in the Western Hemisphere, include United States Olympic Medalists David and Karen O’Connor, Kim Severson and Phillip Dutton, New Zealand’s Blyth Tait and Nick Larkin, Great Britain’s Pippa Funnell, William Fox-Pitt and Mary King, and Andrew Hoy, Clayton Fredericks and Lucinda Fredericks of Australia.
Spectators may purchase reserved Tailgating spaces along portions of the Cross-Country Course at the Kentucky Horse Park, giving them a chance to experience the action like never before. The purchase of a Tailgating space provides a reserved location for a passenger vehicle plus general admission for six people. A variety of hospitality packages is also available for both Eventing and Reining competitions.
After its great debut last year, the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup returns for a second year, April 27-28. The Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup is the only Three Star Reining competition currently scheduled in the world for 2012. It is expected to draw horses and riders from around the globe, vying for their share of $100,000 in prize money as they compete in the CRI3*, along with the popular $25,000 World Freestyle Championship.
In the 2011 debut of the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup, members of the U.S’s Gold Medal team from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games swept the top four places in the HorsePower Inc. CRI5* class. Winning the event was Shawn Flarida, followed by Craig Schmersal, who took second and third, and Tom McCutcheon who took fourth. Also competing was Grammy Award winning entertainer Lyle Lovett who made his personal debut riding at the sport’s highest level.
Reining is a judged event designed to show the athletic ability of a western type horse in a show arena. In Reining, competitors are required to run one of several approved patterns. Each pattern includes small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs, 360 degree spins done in place, back-ups and the exciting sliding stops that are the hallmark of the reining horse.
In addition to the world-class competition, spectators may get equally excited about the world-class shopping at the Sponsor Village and Trade Fair. With more than 175 merchants selling everything from horse-related items to clothing, accessories, jewelry and art, this is always a favorite place for browsing and buying during the Event!
For more information, or to purchase tickets to the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Presented by Bridgestone, please visit the Rolex Kentucky website at www.rk3de.org.
For more information on the 2012 Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup, or to purchase tickets, please go to www.KentuckyReining.com.