Shock as Rolex drops Kentucky horse trials title sponsorship

  • The organisers of the Kentucky Three-Day Event say they are “excited about the opportunities ahead” after Rolex pulled out as title sponsor.

    Lee Carter, executive director of organising company Equestrian Events Inc, told H&H Rolex will still be involved as official timepiece for the event from 2018, and paid tribute to their working partnership since 1981.

    “Any time you have a change like this, you have to adjust and move forward,” he said.

    “If you look at the landscape of corporate sponsorship, it’s rare to have one that lasts as long as this has; we’re extremely grateful to Rolex.

    “The name has been synonymous with the event for years now, which is a true testament to the partnership and we’re very excited it’s going to continue, just in a different capacity.”

    In a deal contracted to 2019, Rolex also sponsors the eventing grand slam, a $350,000 (£271,000) bonus to any rider who wins CCI4*s Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky in succession, won by Pippa Funnell in 2003 and Michael Jung in 2016.

    “That will continue,” Mr Carter said. “We hope it lasts longer than 2019 but it will be in place for the coming events and we’ll go from there. It’s a great way for us to partner with Badminton and Burghley and it shows a commitment by Rolex to continue to support each event in a unique way.”

    Mr Carter said the event, which boasts a new logo and website, kentuckythreedayevent.com, will be seeking a new title sponsor but he hopes its appeal will remain unchanged.

    “The big thing is that while the name will change, we still have the same goal; to produce an event that riders and spectators want to come back to, year after year; to provide a memorable experience for all our guests.

    “Change is never easy. A lot of us don’t like change but it’s inevitable; all major events go through these changes. We’ve been fortunate not to have to do it for 36 years but it’s part of sport.

    “We’re excited about what opportunities lie ahead and grateful Rolex will continue to partner with us. We’ll keep moving forward.”

    Rolex did not wish to make a statement.

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