Shelia Bayes might be one of the happiest vendors at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games: her two booths have sold 26 Rolex watches, for an average price of $10,000 each.
Bayes, who owns Shelia Bayes Fine Jewelers in Lexington Center, is the exclusive Rolex dealer in Lexington. She has two sales booths at WEG, one in the Maker's Mark Bourbon Village, the Games' luxury hospitality tent, and another between the Kentucky Experience and Alltech Experience pavilions.
While Rolex is a major sponsor of equestrian events — including the four-star Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park each April — the luxury watchmaker has never before sold products at equestrian events in this country.
"They have been thrilled beyond belief," Bayes said of Rolex executives. "It has been a fabulous event."
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Bayes said the buyers have been from Europe, Mexico and the United States. After his country's competitors did well in eventing, one German spectator "decided to buy a Rolex to remember being here," she said.
Bayes said she expects to sell a few more before the Games end. Prices for Rolex watches range from $4,500 to more than $100,000.
Horses for veterans
First lady Jane Beshear on Wednesday announced a program that will use horses to help rehabilitate wounded military veterans.
The program, Horses for Heroes, will be run by Central Kentucky Riding for Hope at its new facility at the Kentucky Horse Park and by the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center. It will be supported in part by a $500,000 federal grant facilitated by Scott County officials.
"We're giving horses an opportunity to help heal our heroes and our nation," Beshear said. "And what better place to launch a program like this than our Kentucky Horse Park during the World Equestrian Games."
AT&T made a $6,000 donation that will pay for the first four soldiers to participate in a pilot program beginning in November.
Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, which uses horses for therapy with people who have disabilities, has operated out of the Horse Park since 1981. A little more than a year ago, the non-profit organization moved into a new facility on a 24-acre portion of the park. It includes a specially equipped indoor riding ring and stables for about 25 therapy horses.
U.S. driver withdraws
U.S. driver David Saunders had to withdraw Wednesday from the combined driving competition after two of his five Morgan horses failed to pass the pre-competition vet inspection.
Because two horses were ruled out by the ground jury, Saunders, who was competing as an individual, did not have the necessary number for a four-in-hand team.
U.S. chef d'equipe, or team manager, Ed Young said afterward the inspection results were a shock because U.S. team vets had deemed the horses fit.
"Very disappointing," Young said. "It was a complete surprise to us. We were baffled."
Nine drivers, including three driving for the national team, will now compete for the United States in combined driving, which begins with dressage Thursday at 9:04 a.m.
Miss Teen Kentucky-World
Miss Teen Kentucky-World Belle Owen is visiting the Games. Owen, an accomplished Saddlebred rider, has won seven world championships in the show ring, but what she really wants to be is an oral surgeon. Owen will be at the Kentucky Horse Council booth in the Equine Village from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday.
Condoms as free gifts
Visitors to the Games have been picking up all kinds of freebies, including thousands of condoms. The Lexington Fayette-County Health Department, which provides free condoms year-round at various locations, has placed bowls filled with condoms in the groom's village and bath house at the Kentucky Horse Park. When the bowls are empty, said spokesman Kevin Hall, a health department employee hops on a bike and refills them. Condoms and flu kits, which include Gatorade and ibuprofen, are being given out at the Spotlight Lexington festival downtown, he said. Health department employees can be spotted because they carry a black bag with a red star.
If you're going to Keene land on Friday, a $5 Spotlight Lexington pin will get you free admission on opening day and on every Wednesday and Thursday throughout the fall meeting, said Krista Greathouse, manager of Spotlight Lexington.
In addition, at 8 p.m. Sunday, 17 pin holders will be eligible to win a Honda Accord LX if they found a gold key in the envelope when they bought their pin. Pins are available at Commerce Lexington, at several venues at Spotlight Lexington downtown and at the customer service desk in Fayette Mall.
For more information, go to Spotlightlexky.com.