The Kentucky Three-Day Event winners’ roll call includes many of the greats of the sport. Riders from five different countries have taken the spoils and three riders have won the event three times, although only one has managed to achieve this feat in consecutive years.
The US’s premier horse trials, Kentucky has run at the top level since 1998, with a four-star class added that year and later upgraded to five-star in 2018 when the FEI altered the star levels across eventing.
Let’s take a look at the list…
Kentucky Three-Day Event winners, 1998 onwards
1998: Nick Larkin (New Zealand) and Red
Nick was the first of the Kentucky Three-Day Event winners after the event added a four-star class. He also represented New Zealand at the World Equestrian Games that same year with Red. The horse was a cheap purchase at around $900 and Nick arrived in the USA needing to win something to pay back the bank loan he had taken out for the trip.
1999: Karen O’Connor (USA) and Prince Panache
The first home side victor, Karen is one of the greats of US eventing. She has made five Olympic appearances, winning team silver at Atlanta 1996 and team bronze at Sydney 2000, where she rode her Kentucky winner from the previous year, Prince Panache.
2000: Blyth Tait (New Zealand) and Welton Envoy
Blyth is a four-time Olympian – although technically he’s ridden in six Olympic competitions as in both 1996 and 2000 he rode in both the team and individual events, which were then separated. Welton Envoy was his individual ride at the 2000 Games. Blyth won four Olympic medals including individual gold at Atlanta 1996.
2001: David O’Connor (USA) and Giltedge
David won the individual Olympic gold in 2000 on Custom Made. His team ride at that Games – Giltedge – scooped a team bronze and had his moment in the sun the following year when he won Kentucky. Giltedge was also a team silver medallist at Atlanta in 1996.
2002: Kim Severson (USA) and Winsome Adante
This pair became true heroes of the sport in the US. They won Kentucky again in 2004 and 2005, becoming the first pair to win the feature class here more than once. In addition they were individual silver and team bronze medallists at the 2004 Olympics and team gold medallists at the 2002 World Equestrian Games.
2003: Pippa Funnell (Great Britain) and Primmore’s Pride
This was a sensational win at Kentucky – not only was it the first by a British rider, but it also kicked off Pippa’s Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing as she won Badminton Horse Trials that year on Supreme Rock and Burghley Horse Trials on Primmore’s Pride. The horse also won Badminton in 2005 – completing his own “career grand slam” – and was an Olympic individual bronze and team silver medallist at Athens 2004.
2004: Kim Severson (USA) and Winsome Adante
2004 modified division: Darren Chiacchia (USA) and Windfall 2
In 2004, Kentucky ran both its usual class and a “modified division” in which riders did not tackle the roads and tracks and steeplechase, as an experiment ahead of the Athens Olympics that summer running without those phases. This became the normal format for the sport not long afterwards. Windfall 2, the winner of this division, was the only stallion to win at eventing’s top level until Chilli Morning won Badminton in 2015 with William Fox-Pitt.
2005: Kim Severson (USA) and Winsome Adante
2006: Andrew Hoy (Australia) and Master Monarch
Three years after Pippa Funnell kicked off her successful Rolex Grand Slam bid at Kentucky, Andrew Hoy reignited the grand slam fever when he won Kentucky on Master Monarch and Badminton on Moonfleet. He led until the showjumping at Burghley, but 12 faults in the final phase meant he and Moonfleet ended up second behind Lucinda Fredericks on Headley Britainnia. Master Monarch was also a team bronze medallist at the Aachen World Equestrian Games (WEG) that summer.
2007: Clayton Fredericks (Australia) and Ben Along Time
Clayton made it two consecutive Kentucky wins for Australia when he piloted Ben Along Time to victory in 2007. The pair came to Kentucky off the back of being individual silver and team bronze medallists at the previous summer’s WEG and they went on to be Olympic team silver medallists in Hong Kong in 2008.
2008: Phillip Dutton (USA) and Connaught
A popular win for the home side, from the undisputed current king of US eventing. This is the most recent home side win at Kentucky, something Phillip and the other US riders would dearly love to change. Phillip is a six-time Olympian – he won two team golds for Australia before transferring allegiance to his adopted country – and won his first individual medal, a bronze, at the 2016 Games.
2009: Lucinda Fredericks (Australia) and Headley Britannia
The gutsy little mare Headley Britannia completed her “career grand slam” when she won Kentucky, after victories at Burghley 2006 and Badminton 2007. Lucinda and “Brit” were also team silver medallists at the 2008 Olympics.
2010: William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain) and Cool Mountain
The first of William’s three Kentucky wins. He and Cool Mountain returned to the site of their victory that autumn and led the Brits to team gold at the World Equestrian Games, scooping individual silver for themselves. William is the winner of a record-breaking 14 five-star titles.
2011: Mary King (Great Britain) and Kings Temptress
This was a special win for Mary because Kings Temptress was a home-bred out of her foundation mare Kings Mistress. Six-time Olympian Mary is also the only person ever to do a one-two at Kentucky as she also finished second on Fernhill Urco.
2012: William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain) and Parklane Hawk
Victory at Kentucky marked Parklane Hawk’s second top-level win as he also took Burghley the year before on his four-star – as it was then – debut. He went on to finish third at Burghley twice and fifth at Badminton.
2013: Andrew Nicholson (New Zealand) and Quimbo
Six-time Olympian Andrew’s Kentucky win set him up for a grand slam attempt at Badminton the following week – an attempt in which he went head to head with William Fox-Pitt, who had missed his chance to try for the grand slam at Badminton the year before when the event was cancelled. This meant both men were vying to win the grand slam at Badminton 2013, but in the event, neither could achieve it and victory went to Jock Paget.
2014: William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain) and Bay My Hero
William’s 2014 Kentucky win made him the event’s second three-time winner after Kim Severson; he is the only rider to have won the event on more than one horse. Bay My Hero went on to be a team silver medallist at the 2015 European Championships.
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2015: Michael Jung (Germany) and FischerRocana FST
Michael’s 2015 win was the first of three in a row on the phenomenal mare FischerRocana – who was also a world and European individual silver medallist. Michael is the third rider to win Kentucky three times and the first to make those wins consecutive.
2016: Michael Jung (Germany) and FischerRocana FST
2017: Michael Jung (Germany) and FischerRocana FST
2018: Oliver Townend (Great Britain) and Cooley Master Class
Oliver’s first Kentucky win in 2018 gave him a crack at the Rolex Grand Slam as he had also won Burghley 2017 on Ballaghmor Class. He came close at Badminton, but not quite close enough with second on Cooley SRS and fifth on Ballaghmor Class. Oliver and Cooley Master Class returned to Kentucky to retain their title the following year.
2019: Oliver Townend (Great Britain) and Cooley Master Class
The 2020 Kentucky Three-Day Event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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