Friday, April 21, 2017

People to Watch at Rolex 2017

If you are in the eventing world, or if you know anyone in the eventing world, it's pretty much impossible to not know about Rolex. But, for those of you that don't know what it is, I'll give you a little synopsis of "The Best Weekend All Year!" aka next weekend April 26-30.

Rolex is actually the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. It is the only 4-star event in North America. The FEI recognized events, the highest levels, are ranked by stars, starting at 1* and going up to 4*. There are about six 4* events in the world (although the US is supposed to get a second 4* in the coming years).

These heights were SO HARD to find.
The best part - these fences are HUGE!
Okay, so we've got monster fences and the best of the best riders (this is the top event in the United States). Rolex also has demonstrations from local groups, famous riders and horse people (aka Patrick the mini horse and his handler!). Pony Clubs are always demonstrating, usually games, vaulting, and/or eventing.

My second favorite part (behind the best riding in the country) is the Sponsor Village and the Trade Fair. This is a HUGE collection of "pop-up stores" containing everything from Annie's Equestrian (aka the best breeches ever) to Horze, one of the monster chains that sells pretty much everything to CWD and Devoucoux.

My top picks:

(Disclaimer: these pictures were taken off the riders' Facebook pages. All rights to the original owners. If you would like a picture taken down, contact me at eventerat14@gmail.com)

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1. Maxime Livio
Maxime is a French rider who has been winning or placing in literally everything in the past two years. His riding style reminds me of William Fox-Pitt, except his legs tend to slip back, but his core and upper body are so steady. His horse, Qalao Des Mers, is a stocky yet adorable gelding. 
Maxime is also on my "better not screw it up" list. In 2014, he was accused and suspended for doping Qalao at the World Equestrian Games. This doping also prevented France from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Eventing. It'll be interesting to see how this pair does. 

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2. Lauren Kieffer 
Lauren is a US rider who has consistently been in the top placings at Rolex for a couple of years now. She has three horses entered, though my personal favorite is Veronica, her veteran Rolex mount. She competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics for the US. Lauren has had a very steady year, placing in her rides and showing she is ready to make this Rolex just as good as the previous years. 

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3. Will Faudree
Honestly, I just think Will is due for a really good Rolex run this year. He's placed in the top-middle of the pack in previous years but his track record for the past two years has been amazing. I am very, very excited to see what he'll show us this year. His horse, Pfun, is a grey Irish Sport Horse gelding, and I'm pretty sure I love him already just from his name!

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4. Michael Jung
Ze Terminator. Winning Rolex twice in a row on FischerRocana FST, this pair is sure to be in the top ten finishers (unless something unmentionable happens). Michael Jung has taken the eventing community by storm and is a household name for any eventer. Last year, he took the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, something a very, very select few have been able to do. 

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5. Doug Payne
As if I could leave out my very favorite rider. Doug is an incredible rider and clinician, and I'm pretty sure I'm in love with his horse, Vandiver (Quinn!). I like watching him because he is a very technical rider, and you can learn a ridiculous amount just by watching. He also posts a ton of helmet cams, and there's nothing like hearing and seeing a Rolex XC analysis from the rider himself. Doug has also been on a winning streak lately, so I'm excited to see what he'll do.

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6. Caroline Martin
Caroline caught my interest when she won the Carolina International 3*. That was a huge field of really good riders, and she made it look easy. She also had a 4th place finish at the Fork 3*. More than that, her riding is great and fun to watch. Spring Easy is a beautiful 9 year old Irish Sport Horse gelding with an easy, scopey jump. I'll be watching to see how this Rolex goes for her!

Other riders to keep an eye on:

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7. Kim Severson & Cooley Cross Border - really good 2016/2017 season so far.

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8. Clark Montgomery & Loughan Glen - they have had a fantastic season, so I'm excited to see what they show us at Rolex.

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9. Boyd Martin & Steady Eddie - hard to beat, and (to me) a classic combination. 

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10. Buck Davidson & Copper Beach - this horse is newer to me, but has been having a pretty good season so far.

Who are your top picks? Let me know in the comments! 

Go to/watch Rolex, smile, and have fun!

-UEquestrian

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