The Grand Slam is a $350,000 (£229,275) prize given by Rolex to any rider who can win the world’s leading four-stars, Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky, consecutively. The events can be won in any order and this is the first time a rider has tried to finish the quest at Badminton.
Two riders have won two legs, but failed at the final hurdle: Andrew Hoy went to Burghley in 2006 after winning Kentucky and Badminton, but finished second and fifth, while Oliver Townend took Badminton and Burghley 2009, but fell at Kentucky in 2010.
William won Burghley in 2011 and Kentucky in 2012, so should have headed to Badminton 2012 as a live Rolex Grand Slam of eventing contender. The cancellation of Badminton last year meant some fast thinking was needed by Rolex, which quickly announced that the challenge would roll over to this year. This opens up the possibility that he could win all three stages on one horse — Parklane Hawk, owned by Catherine Witt. William’s other ride at Badminton is the syndicate-owned Oslo.
The cancellation also sets up the possibility that two riders could be simultaneously trying to complete the Grand Slam at Badminton. If Andrew Nicholson, last year’s Burghley winner, takes Kentucky this weekend, he would claim the cheque if he went on to win Badminton. Andrew is riding Calico Joe and Quimbo in America’s only four-star event.
Other riders who have travelled from Britain to compete in Kentucky are William Fox-Pitt (Seacookie TSF and Chilli Morning) and Mary King (Fernhill Urco), while American-based British rider James Alliston will be riding Parker and Tivolli.
Find out how William is approaching his Rolex Grand Slam challenge in the first part of H&H’s Badminton preview, out tomorrow (25 May), and stay in touch with the latest news from Kentucky Rolex three-day-event on Horseandhound.co.uk throughout the weekend