Riders Readying For Rolex
Prep work for the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event officially got under way Wednesday at the Kentucky Horse Park with the Competitor's Briefing, after which the riders were allowed their first look at Derek Di Grazia's Cross Country Course that they'll be tackling on Saturday.
Before that their horses must pass the official vets inspection on Wednesday afternoon, and complete a Dressage test on either Thursday or Friday depending on where they fall in the Order of Go, drawn at random.
Last year's winner, British rider Mary King who filled the two top spots has not returned to Kentucky this spring as she's saving her horses for this summer's Olympic Games. Her compatriot, the experienced William Fox-Pitt brings his Burghley winner, Parklane Hawk to Lexington to see if he can win not only the Rolex Kentucky title, but with it the second leg of Eventing's Triple Crown, the Rolex Grand Slam. Worth $350,000 to the winner it has only been achieved once before by fellow Brit Pippa Funnell who took consecutive wins at Badminton, Burghley and Rolex Kentucky Four Star Events in 2003.
However, there's another Brit who has been catching a few eyes; James Alliston, originally from Gloucester and an Oxford graduate, spent summer holidays riding with Bruce Davidson in Pennsylvania, which led to a job in California working for Chuck and Peggy Moore at their Graceland Equestrian Centre.
Last year, as a relative unknown, Alliston arrived at Rolex with two horses and finished with them both in the top 20. This year he returns to Rolex, no longer the rookie, having swept the board at the three international competitions he's entered on the West Coast since then, and with possible British Olympic Team buzz from both sides of the pond.