English Events Horse Happenings

Nicholson Rides To Early Lead at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Presented by Land Rover

Lexington, KY, April 25, 2013 — Andrew Nicholson of New Zealand guided Calico Joe to the best score (40.8 penalties) on the first day of dressage at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, Presented by Land Rover. Becky Holder of the United States, on Can’t Fire Me (44.2), stands second, and Shandiss McDonald of Canada, on Rockfield Grant Juan (45.7), stands third.

(Andrew Nicholson of New Zealand rode Calico Joe to the lead in day 1 of dressage at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover. Michelle Dunn photo)

William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain, the Rolex Kentucky winner in 2010 and 2012, stands fourth on Seacookie TSF (46.2).

The second half of the 46-horse field performs their dressage tests on Friday.

Nicholson, 51, is a six-time Olympian and was a member of the bronze-medal team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park. Nicholson needs to win this Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event to continue his quest to win the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam, awarded to the rider who can win the world’s three oldest CCI4* events (Burghley in England, Badminton in England, and Rolex Kentucky) in succession. Nicholson won Burghley last September and, if victorious here, would need to then win Badminton next weekend.

“I’ve come out here with the Grand Slam in mind, certainly, but at the moment I’m just trying to win this one first. I’ll worry about it more next weekend at Badminton,” said Nicholson.

“It’s a great arena to ride in here,” he added. “When you go down that ramp into the ring, it gives you a buzz that you’re somewhere special, but [Calico Joe] stayed cool around the ring and gave me 100 percent in the whole test. I let him down a couple of times, but he came through for me.”

Unlike Nicholson, McDonald, 28, of Oakville, Ontario, is riding at Rolex Kentucky for the first time. “I was just so happy to be here, and I was just happy that my horse was so settled and willing and did his job in the ring. We were able to do what we’ve been working on at home in the ring,” she said.

Holder, 44, of Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., has placed several times at Rolex Kentucky, but she said that she always looks forward to dressage day. “It’s always an amazing feeling to ride down that ramp into the Rolex ring,” she said with a smile. “It was really nice to have [Can’t Fire Me] be calm and relaxed in the ring and do what he really can do today.”

Even though there’s still another day of dressage ahead, these riders are looking ahead to the cross-country test on Saturday. They gave a thumb’s up to Derek di Grazia’s imposing course.

“Derek has done an unbelievable job. It’s very big, but it’s very horse fair,” said Nicholson, who has a second horse to ride yet in dressage (Quimbo). “All the fences give the horse enough time to see what he has to do, and, to me, that’s very important. I think it’s a good test, and I’m looking forward to riding it.”

Holder and McDonald both said they were relieved to hear Nicholson say that di Grazia’s course was big. “I thought it was huge!” said Holder. “It’s a true four-star track. But it’s always a pleasure to walk and ride Derek’s courses—-if you ride them positively, you end up with a much more experienced and confident horse at the end.”

The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Land Rover, is the Western Hemisphere’s only Four-Star Three-Day Event.  It is part of the HSBC FEI ClassicsTM and features the world’s best horses and riders vying for their share of $250,000 in prize money as well as a shot at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, which is awarded to any rider who wins the Rolex Kentucky, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and Land Rover Burghley Four-Star Events in succession.

Rolex Kentucky draws more than 50,000 spectators to the Kentucky Horse Park and is seen by millions more on worldwide telecasts.  This year’s event features Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalists from Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States and will crown the 16th Rolex/USEF National CCI4* Champion.

The event will be televised as the Rolex Equestrian Championships, presented by Land Rover, on NBC on Sunday, April 28, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. EDT.  Leading up to the NBC telecast,, presented by SmartPak, is offering live, wall-to-wall coverage of the dressage, cross-country, and show jumping phases. This coverage can be seen on computers, tablets, and smart TV/Google TV devices in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Google TV users can go to for an enhanced experience.

Throughout the rest of the world, FEI TV will air LIVE coverage of Saturday’s cross-country and Sunday’s show jumping competitions. To sign up for FEI TV, please

The full broadcast schedule is listed below and is available under the Live Broadcast Schedule tab at Times are subject to change.
April 25: LIVE Dressage on, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT
April 26: LIVE Dressage on, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT
April 27: LIVE Cross-Country on, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT
April 28: LIVE Show Jumping on, 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. EDT
Awards Ceremony on, 3:00 p.m. ET
Rolex Equestrian Championships presented by Land Rover on
NBC, 4:00 to 5 p.m. EDT

The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is produced by Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI), a non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation that was established initially 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 quickly evolved into what is today the only four-star three-day event in the western hemisphere, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. EEI started producing the Kentucky Reining Cup in 2011.

Full results and further information on the 2013 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover is available at the Rolex Kentucky website at