Who will be contesting the 2016 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing?

Who will be contesting the 2016 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing?

Photo of Pippa Funnell, the only rider to have claimed the Rolex Grand Slam. Photo taken by Silverhill Webdesign at Badminton 2015

 

Three-day eventing is considered by many to be the ultimate equine test; the triathalon of equestrianism, requiring a unique range of skills from precision and elegance to accuracy, bravery and perfect timing. It tests the resolve of the timeless partnership between horse and rider.

 

In 1998, Rolex Kentucky became the third annual CCI4* event in the world and remains the only one on the American continent. There are now six CCI4* events in total, but only three offer the chance to claim the sport’s greatest prize, the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. In order to make history and lift this prestigious trophy, riders must win at all three Rolex supported events in succession: Rolex Kentucky, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and Land Rover Burghley CCI4*.

 

Rolex Kentucky attracts the world’s leading riders and is considered the highlight of the US eventing calendar. As a result, the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event presented by Land Rover will also act as the last major official trial for the 2016 US Olympic eventing team.

 

In 2001 Rolex was inspired to link the three foremost eventing competitions in the world into a Grand Slam. Badminton: the British horse trials on which the modern sport of eventing was founded, Kentucky: the premier US event, and Burghley: the East of England’s showpiece event, formed the competition.

 

Every year these three events attract world class competition and crowds of enthusiastic supporters eager to bear witness to equestrian greatness. It became immediately apparent that, completing the challenge and winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, would require a series of outstanding performances from a remarkable athlete.    

 

Since its inception in 2001, only one rider has risen to the challenge: Britain’s much loved and highly decorated team member, Pippa Funnell. In April 2003 she rode Primmore’s Pride to victory at Rolex Kentucky, beginning her Rolex Grand Slam campaign. A week later, this time riding double European champion Supreme Rock, Funnell was crowned Badminton winner. A few months later, Funnell reigned supreme at Burghley, riding Primmore’s Pride again, outperforming fellow Rolex Testimonee Zara Phillips, who finished in second place. Pippa Funnell immediately joined the ranks of sporting greats and became a Rolex Testimonee.    

 

Since then, two of the three legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing have been won by four different riders: Australia’s Andrew Hoy, Britain’s William Fox-Pitt and Oliver Townend, and New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson. None of these top-class riders have yet succeeded in triumphing over the series and winning the final element of the Rolex Grand Slam.

 

Reigning champion, Michael Jung, is set to contest the 2016 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. Jung won individual gold at the World Equestrian Games when held in Kentucky in 2010 and claimed victory at the 2015 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, riding Fischerrocana FST.    

 

Jung will be looking to continue his winning form from Burghley and stake his claim for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing prize in 2016. Should Jung be victorious on Fischerrocana FST, they will be only the third horse and rider combination in the history of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event to retain their Lexington title.