The Queen’s English will be hard to hear in the arena and course at this year’s Rolex Kentucky three-day event. Only Leslie Law (pictured) will fly across the Atlantic to compete in the jewel of American eventing. He will be joined at Lexington by Emma Winter, who is based in the United States.
Over the last couple of years, Rolex Kentucky has attracted a bevy of British riders. The 2004 edition saw four Brits in attandance — William Fox Pitt, Sarah Cutteridge, Polly Jackson and Polly Stockton — as did the 2003 edition, where Fox Pitt, Stockton, Leslie Law and Pippa Funnell all took part and Funnell went on to win the trophy and, ultimately, the Rolex Grand Slam.
This year, however, most of the British contingent chose to stay at home and concentrate on Badminton. “Leslie has three horses at four-star level, so he needs to take one across to the US, whereas other British riders are catered for at Badminton, as they don’t have that many horses,” explains Winnie Murphy of British Eventing “The other riders can run at Badminton, where the prize money is a bit better.”
Although only two Brits will fly the national flag at Lexington this year, there is a good chance they will fly it high. Olympic gold medalist Leslie Law will make his bid for the Rolex title aboard Coup de Coeur, the 11-year-old gelding owned by Keith Scott. Law started riding Coup de Coeur recently and the pair only competed at the 2004 World Cup Final, where they finished in 12th place.
Coup de Coeur flew last Wednesday and has apparently travelled well, but he and Law will have to find instant chemistry because competition for the Rolex Trophy will be fierce. Burghley winners Andrew Hoy and Moonfleet are hoping to emulate Pippa Funnell by bagging the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam, while Olympic silver medallist Kimberly Severson, with her trusted Winsome Andante, is aiming for her third Rolex win.
Although she is not a top-tier contender, Winter will have the advantage of a relatively shorter journey as she travels from her base in Georgia to Kentucky, which may help her gain a good placing. Winter, who is the wife of Canadian Olympian Michael, will ride her own Mahogany Chief, with whom she was 14th at Foxhall CCI*** in 2004.