Breaking News: A Big Change at the U.S.'s CCI4* - Expert advice on horse care and horse riding

Breaking News: A Big Change at the U.S.'s CCI4*

The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, Kentucky will soon have a new title sponsor.
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May 31, 2017—To riders and thousands of fans, America’s only CCI4* always has been simply “Rolex.”

But it was announced today that what was the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event now will be called the Kentucky Three-Day Event. Rolex—the competition’s title sponsor since 1981—has stepped down from that role.

Equestrian Events Inc., the non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation that produces the three-day event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, will be filling the sponsorship void soon.

“The search for a new title sponsor is already under way,” said Lee Carter, EEI’s executive director.

“We have had some encouraging conversations and expect that we will have an announcement before very long. Meanwhile, we will continue working on next year’s event at the Kentucky Horse Park with $400,000 prize money and one of the most exciting weekends in all of equestrian sport.”

Although no one is saying on the record what company could succeed Rolex as title sponsor, sources said there are discussions on the subject with Land Rover. That would be a natural succession, since Land Rover is the Kentucky event’s presenting sponsor and has a very high profile in that role.

Rolex signs were ubiquitous at Rolex Kentucky, particularly at the signature Head of the Lake complex on cross country, as seen here with Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Zara Tindall, jumping into the water on High Kingdom.

Rolex signs were ubiquitous at Rolex Kentucky, particularly at the signature Head of the Lake complex on cross country, as seen here with Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Zara Tindall, jumping into the water on High Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Rolex continues to have some ties to eventing. It will sponsor the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing through 2019. The Grand Slam, which has been claimed only twice, is awarded to the rider who wins in succession (in any order) the Kentucky event and Britain’s two CCI4* events, the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

Rolex also has a contract through 2020 that keeps its name on the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“We thank Rolex for all that they have done to help us make the Kentucky Three-Day Event one of the biggest equestrian events in the world and we are pleased that they are continuing as our official timepiece,” said Lee.

That should shut down speculation, if any arises, that the FEI’s (international equestrian federation) big sponsor, Longines, would step in, since it also is a watch and timing company.

It was obvious to close observers that Rolex was pulling back from the Kentucky event for the last few years. The company no longer had its VIP chalet on the grounds, and stopped giving its traditional Saturday night party two years ago.

Another thing was minor, but telling; this was the first year that a bottle of champagne was not provided as a contest prize to the member of the press corps at Rolex Kentucky who correctly picked the winner of the event.

Meanwhile, Rolex remains very actively involved in the sport of show jumping, with a high profile at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, the Tryon, N.C., International Equestrian Center and other venues in Canada and abroad.

EEI was established to produce the 1978 World Three-Day Event Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the success of those championships, EEI established an annual event that evolved into the Kentucky Three-Day Event, which draws more than 75,000 spectators to the horse park each year.

EEI has unveiled a new logo and a new website. Both can be found online at www.kentuckythreedayevent.com.

“As we move forward with our ever-changing event, we are unveiling a new look that is reflected in our new logo and website,” said Stewart Perry, president of EEI.

“We thank everyone who has helped make the Kentucky Three-Day Event one of the premier events of any kind in the world and we look forward to continued growth in the coming years.”

The Kentucky Three-Day Event returns to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, April 26–29, 2018.