Two-time Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event champion William Fox-Pitt returns to Lexington to defend his title this week at the Kentucky Horse Park.
But to do so he will have to outride as many as 14 other Olympic-veteran riders, including Mary King, his teammate from the silver medal-winning British team in the 2012 London Games.
Since 2010, Fox-Pitt and King have traded the Rolex title back and forth, with no one else able to get a hoof in.
The Rolex starts Thursday at the Kentucky Horse Park and continues through Sunday. Riders were at the park Wednesday for the trot-up and first inspection.
"The star-studded lineup of riders in this year's event guarantees that we will have an incredibly exciting event for anyone who loves fast-paced equestrian competition with the world's best horses and riders," said Darren Ripley, president of Equestrian Events Inc., which puts on the the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. "With so many Olympians and past Rolex winners, this is sure to be a tough competition for the riders and a thrilling one for spectators."
This year's field includes other perennial favorites including Andrew Nicholson of New Zealand and Phillip Dutton, Becky Holder and Boyd Martin of the United States.
There also will be riders with Kentucky ties, including Emily Beshear, daughter-in-law of Jane and Gov. Steve Beshear. Emily Beshear finished a respectable 20th in last year's event. Other Kentucky riders entered include Alexandra Knowles of Paris and Lindsey Oaks of Lexington.
Another local rider, Lyndsey Jordan, will be competing in Saturday's World Freestyle Championships at the concurrent Kentucky Reining Cup in the Horse Park's Alltech Arena. She will ride against reining royalty, including musician Lyle Lovett, Tom McCutcheon, Tim McQuay and Shawn Flarida.
Also returning this year: tailgating at the Rolex and the second annual "Land Rover Tailgate Challenge." On Saturday, the day for the cross-country competition, spots are available for $370 to set up tailgating parties near the course. British automaker Land Rover, the presenting sponsor of the three-day event, will award the best set-up a prize package.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event begins with dressage Thursday and Friday, cross-country riding on Saturday, and the jumping finals on Sunday.
IF YOU GO
Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event
When: April 25-28
Where: Kentucky Horse Park, 4089 Iron Works Pkwy.
General admission: $15 Thursday and Friday, $35 Saturday, $30 Sunday.
Learn more about specific ticket prices and availability for both events and for tailgating at Rk3de.org.
Rolex Kentucky Reining Cup and World Freestyle Championships
When: April 26-27
Where: Kentucky Horse Park Alltech Arena
General admission: $18-$25
Learn more: Kentuckyreining.com.
Janet Patton: (859) 231-2364. Twitter: janetpattonhl