William Fox-Pitt won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event with Parklane Hawk, taking home the $80,000 first prize and a watch, but even more important, securing the second leg of the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. He now heads toward Badminton this week in an effort to clinch the prize that has been earned by only one other rider, Pippa Funnell.

“This is the closest I’ve ever got to the Grand Slam,” he said after the prizegiving and victory gallop before a crowd of 9,504 in the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“I’ve won four-stars before, but I’ve never managed to win two in a row. Still, to win three is fairly unlikely. We’ll see.”

Although William led after cross-country, moving up from second in dressage, he had only a rail in hand after second-ranked American Allison Springer dropped a pole with Arthur to finish on 47pen.

William was sailing over the Richard Jeffery-designed route, which he called “a serious show jumping course”, when his New Zealand-bred thoroughbred began tossing his head before 6A, the first part of a double combination of verticals. It was, he said, an “uh-oh” moment.

“When you’ve got a fence in hand, that makes a huge difference — you’ve got a bit of a cushion, but suddenly the cushion had gone. I tried to regroup, and jumped home very well.”

He finished on 45.3pen for the third-straight British victory in America’s only four-star event — Mary King took first and second place last year, while William won on Cool Mountain in 2010.

Jonathan Paget of New Zealand, who had been standing third with Clifton Promise, toppled the first and third elements of the triple combination to drop to sixth.

America’s Boyd Martin, who had been equal 16th after dressage and moved up to fourth following cross-country, was third on his newest ride, Otis Barbotiere. He had 51pen, the same as Karen O’Connor on her newest horse, former German team mount Mr. Medicott, but Boyd got the edge because he was closer to the optimum time on cross-country.

Don’t miss H&H’s full report from Kentucky on sale in our special Queen’s Jubilee issue on Thursday 3 May