British riders contest USA eventing crown

  • Four British riders are currently making their final preparations for the Rolex Kentucky CCI four-star, which begins tomorrow. William Fox-Pitt and Polly Stockton have made the journey from Britain to Kentucky to join America-based Britons Emma Winter and Leslie Law.

    The event, which is the only four-star three-day in the USA, will be used as a selction trial for the American eventing team for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aächen, Germany (20 August – 3 September). Rolex has put up a $200,000 prize fund and the winner will also receive a Rolex watch.

    Fox-Pitt will be vying for the Rolex title on two rides; Coup de Coeur and Mr Dumbledore. Meanwhile Polly Stockton will ride Tom Quigley, who was placed fifth at Weston Park earlier this month. Leslie Law will partner Shear L’Eau and Emma Winter will ride Mahogany Chief.

    The British contingent will be aiming to emulate Pippa Funnell, who is the only British rider to have won the event, although she is not competing this year. Funnell and Primmore’s Pride claimed victory in 2003, the same year she won the $250,000 Rolex Grand Slam for winning three Rolex Grand Slam Events in a row.

    Top American event rider Kim Severson will be vying for a fourth Rolex Kentucky title. Severson won the event last year and in 2004 and 2002, each time partnering the trusted Winsome Adante. This year she is competing with Royal Venture. Bruce Davidson, who has won the Rolex Kentucky title five times, will be riding Jam and Little Tricky at this year’s competition and his son Buck is partnering Hyperlite.

    The organisers have adopted the short format for this year’s event, giving American riders the first opportunity to compete at the short format four-star level in their own country.

    Olympic course designer for the 2008 Games, Mike Etherington-Smith is responsible for the cross-country course for the 14th year. Having designed courses at Blenheim and the Sydney Olympics, Etherington-Smith will undoubtedly construct a course that will test horses and riders to their maximum ability.

    The addition of a water feature to the Lexington Bank will provide riders with a new challenge and at the Dray accuracy will be required. Riders will have to negotiate a right-hand turn and jump a big rail on the top of a mound, travel down the slope into the water and over a semi-circular rails and brush, then up the bank and over an angled cottage. Perhaps the most exciting new obstacle is a true Normandy Bank, which can be seen from almost everywhere in the infield and the High Hope Steeplechase seating mound.

    Regular updates will be available on HHO throughout the event. For more information visit: http://www.rk3de.org

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