There’s a feeling surrounding the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day that’s unlike any other competition in the country. It’s a kind of passion; an excitement for equestrian sport that’s rarely seen or felt in other disciplines anywhere else in the States.
Each year, tens of thousands of spectators book their plane tickets, drive hundreds of miles, and cram into small, occasionally smoky hotel rooms, all for a chance to be a part of one of the greatest weekends American horse sport has to offer. They pack ponchos and lawn chairs and, rain or shine (but usually rain), they huddle together along the grassy byways surrounding Top of the Lake, walking for miles along the beautiful but mercilessly rolling terrain of the Horse Park cross-country course, just to seek out the perfect spot.
They come for one reason: the chance to witness a single, unique moment that combines all the best aspects of equestrian sport—guts, determination, glory—in one hard-earned, seconds-long glimpse.
The year 2017 will inevitably be remembered as the one when Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST did what few in eventing thought possible: three, consecutive years of four-star victory at one of the most competitive and difficult events in the world. But each of us will take home our own, individual memories. The crowd, swelling with applause inside Rolex Stadium; the thundering hoofbeats of a flat-out former racehorse, galloping up a grassy hill; or the triumphant fist-pump of a rookie rider, finishing her first clear round on a four-star cross-country course.
Whatever Rolex meant to you, we hope this gallery by Shannon Brinkman and Tori Repole helps to capture it. Until next year, Kentucky.