Kentucky Three-Day Event

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On Cue, ridden by Boyd Martin, has been withdrawn from the 2022 Kentucky Three-Day Event

Boyd Martin and On Cue on the cross-country at Kentucky Three-Day Event 2021.

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.

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

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.