Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing: everything you need to know about the $350,000 prize

Ahead of Oliver Townend’s attempt to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing at Badminton this year (2-6 May 2018), we refresh your memory with everything you need to know about the big money bonus

What is the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing?

The Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is a cash prize, given by watch-makers Rolex, to any event rider who can consecutively win the three biggest four-stars events in the sport — Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in Britain and the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in the USA.  The events can be won in any order. Badminton and Kentucky take place in the spring each year, with Kentucky usually the week before Badminton, and Burghley in September.

A rider can use the same or different horses for each event, but in reality a minimum of two horses are needed to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing because the same horse would not run at Kentucky and Badminton as they are too close together.

How much is the prize money for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing?

$350,000 (around £255,000). The prize was initially $250,000 when the Rolex Grand Slam was conceived in 1999, but was increased to $350,000 in February 2008.

Which riders have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing?

Only two riders have won the prize.

Britain’s Pippa Funnell completed the challenge in 2003 — she won Kentucky 2003 on Primmore’s Pride, Badminton on Supreme Rock and Burghley on Primmore’s Pride.

Germany’s Michael Jung won the Rolex Grand Slam in 2015/2016 — he started by winning Burghley 2015 on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, then in the spring of 2016 won Kentucky on FischerRocana FST and Badminton on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW.

Have any other riders come close to winning it?

Yes. Four other riders have won two legs of the Rolex Grand Slam, but fallen at the final hurdle.

In 2006 Australia’s Andrew Hoy took 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.

In 2009, Britain’s Oliver Townend won Badminton on Flint Curtis and Burghley on Carousel Quest. He went to Kentucky with Ashdale Cruise Master and ODT Master Rose — with some drama, due to a volcanic ash cloud disrupting his travel plans — but was airlifted to hospital after a fall with Ashdale Cruise Master.

In 2011, Britain’s William Fox-Pitt won Burghley on Parklane Hawk and he then won Kentucky 2012 on the same horse. However, Badminton that year was cancelled, so his attempt to complete the Rolex Grand Slam was deferred to 2013. Meanwhile, Andrew Nicholson won Burghley 2012 on Avebury and Kentucky 2013 on Quimbo, setting up a situation where both he and William were “live” in the Rolex Grand Slam and aiming to complete it at Badminton, a situation lent extra frisson by the history of rivalry between the two men. In the event, neither of them were able to achieve the final victory, with William finishing fifth on Parklane Hawk and Andrew third on Nereo.

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Who is the current live contender in the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing?

Oliver Townend. Oliver won Burghley 2017 on Ballaghmor Class and Kentucky this spring on Cooley Master Class. He therefore heads to this week’s Badminton (2-6 May) aiming to complete the Rolex Grand Slam. His rides are Ballaghmor Class and Cooley SRS.

For a full report from Kentucky don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (3 May 2018)

Pick up the current issue of Horse & Hound magazine (26 April 2018) for our Badminton preview, including course walk with Mary King and form guide for every horse and rider

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