Kentucky Three-Day Event 2024

Keep up to date with all the news from Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event (25-28 April), right here. Ahead of the Paris Olympics, this year’s event promises to be highly competitive with riders from multiple nations looking to impress their selectors. We will have our expert eventing reporter on the ground bringing you all the headlines, big name interviews and analysis of the action, plus beautiful photography throughout each day of competition.

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Latest Kentucky Three-Day Event news

Kentucky Three-Day Event dates

The Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event will be held from 25 to 28 April 2024. The event is running both five-star and four-star-short competitions.

Kentucky Three-Day Event timetable

Wednesday 24 April
2pm CCI5* first horse inspection (7pm in Britain)

Thursday 25 April
8-11.30am CCI4*-S dressage (1-4.30pm in Britain)
12.45-4.30pm CCI5* dressage (5.45-9.30pm in Britain)

Friday 26 April
8-11.30am CCI4*-S dressage (1-4.30pm in Britain)
12.30-4.10pm CCI5* dressage (5.30-9.10pm in Britain)

Saturday 27 April
9-11.45am CCI4*-S cross-country (2-4.45pm in Britain)
1-4.15pm CCI5* cross-country (5-9.15pm in Britain)

Sunday 28 April
7.30am CCI4*-S and CCI5* horse inspection (12.30pm in Britain)
10.45am-12.30pm CCI4*-S showjumping (3.45-5.30pm in Britain)
2-4pm CCI5* showjumping, followed by prize-giving (7-9pm in Britain)

Who is the Kentucky Three-Day Event course designer?

After 18 years in the role, Mike Etherington-Smith handed over Kentucky cross-country course-designer duties to Derek di Grazia ahead of the 2011 running of the event and Derek is still the course-designer now.

Kentucky Three-Day Event history

Horse trials have been held at the Kentucky Horse Park since 1976 and the venue became the first US host of the eventing World Championships in 1978.

Individual world champion Bruce Davidson retained his world title riding Might Tango, while Canada were the winners of the team gold medal on that occasion. Since then Kentucky has frequently been used as the selection trial for the US eventing team for major championships.

In 1998 Rolex Kentucky became the only CCI4* event held outside Europe (all the world’s four-stars were upgraded to five-star when the FEI changed the classification of eventing levels in 2019).

The Kentucky Horse Park also hosted the World Equestrian Games (WEG) – encompassing the World Championships for eight equestrian disciplines – in 2010. Britain won the team gold on that occasion, with Michael Jung taking his first senior championship individual gold on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW.

Long-time title sponsor Rolex stepped down in 2017, and the title sponsorship of the event was taken up by Land Rover ahead of the 2018 running. The name of the event was changed to Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Mars Equestrian, for 2024.

The 2020 running of Kentucky Three-Day Event was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the following February it was announced that the 2021 five-star was cancelled too. However, a grassroots fundraising effort brought in more than $550,000 (approx £400,000) in less than a week, which persuaded organisers to change their minds and go ahead with the five-star, which was won by Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class.

Michael Jung achieved his fourth Kentucky win when he landed the title in 2022 on FischerChipmunk FRH. In 2023, Tamie Smith scored a huge victory for the home side when she piloted Mai Baum to become the event’s first US winner since Phillip Dutton won in 2008.

What is Kentucky Three-Day Event?

Kentucky Three-Day Event is one of just seven five-star events in the world and one of only two held in the US. Five-star is the highest level of eventing competition, where the very best horses and riders in the sport compete against each other in three phases: dressage, cross-country and show jumping. The same horse and rider combinations take part in all three phases and their penalty scores are added up. The horse and rider with the lowest penalties is the winner.