There’s a whole lot more to the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event for some of New Zealand’s top eventers than meets the eye.

It has been a rigorous process for approval to be given for the team to travel from the UK to the United States to ensure all possible steps had been taken to keep both the riders and support staff safe. On top of that, there are strict protocols at Kentucky as well, with more added by ESNZ high performance management to ensure riders, grooms and staff stay well and ready to compete at the fast-approaching Tokyo Olympic Games.

ESNZ high performance eventing manager Graeme Thom says the team will be looking to mirror health and safety protocols that are likely to be in place for the Games.

A solid crew of six UK-based combinations have crossed the Atlantic to take on some of the best in the world at the resurrected CCI5*-L event in the United States. With the 2020 edition cancelled due to COVID-19, organisers then made the call to can the 2021 event again due to the challenges that came with the pandemic and in an effort to preserve the event for future years. However, a huge outpouring of support saw them flip flop when $US550,000 was donated to enable them to run the event, albeit, without spectators. While the amount was still short of what was needed, they felt confident the balance could be raised.

Eventers from the UK, Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand have all converged on the bluegrass state for one of the world’s highest-ranked competitions.

Leading the charge for New Zealand will be world no.2, Tim Price who has 15-year-olds Bango and Xavier Faer. British-bred Xavier Faer was third at Kentucky in 2019 and also placed third at Badminton in 2017. He has also competed at Pau and Burghley 5* events and joined Tim’s string in 2014.

Tim has brought the Irish-bred Bango all the way through from 1* competition to 5*, having competed at Luhmuhlen, Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley, where he was fifth in 2019.
Jonelle Price has three on the 5* card in 10-year-old Grappa Nera, 13-year-old Grovine de Reve and 18-year-old Classic Moet, who won Badminton in 2018, was third at Burghley in 2016 and fourth at the World Equestrian Games in 2018.

Grappa Nera was second in the CCI4*-L at Strzegom in Poland last year and this will be her first 5* start. Grovine de Reve is the newest to the string, having joined Jonelle in 2019 and together they competed at Pau 5* in 2020.

Jesse Campbell will compete aboard Diachello, an 11-year-old gelding who will be having his first 5* start. The German-bred horse was third in his last start in the CCI4*-L at Lignieres in October.

US-based Joe Meyer has his 13-year-old grey New Zealand-bred thoroughbred Johnny Royale on the 5* card. Joe started the horse in 2016 and has brought him all the way through. Together they completed Kentucky 5* in 2019.

But the Kiwis will be facing some stiff opposition in the 66-strong class, none the least from back-to-back winner, and world no.1, Oliver Townsend (GBR). He is entered aboard Cooley Master Class, who won the event in 2018 and 2019. Also in is previous winner William Fox-Pitt (GBR), Boyd Martin (USA), Phillip Dutton (USA) and Harry Meade (GBR), among others.
New Zealanders have done very well at Kentucky in the past, with Tim Price and Wesko second in 2015, Andrew Nicholson aboard Quimbo winning it in 2013, Blyth Tait and Welton Envy heading the field home in 2000, and Nick Larking with Red winning in 1998.
This year, Joe will also compete in the CCI4*-S aboard 18-year-old Irish-bred gelding Clip Clop who was second in a CCI4*-S at Tryon in November.

The event gets underway with the first horse inspection on Wednesday, followed by two days of dressage, the cross country on Saturday and the showjumping on Sunday.
The Kentucky CSI3* invitational grand prix will not be held this year.

The Kentucky Three-Day Event was borne out of the 1978 World Three Day Event Championships at the then brand-new Kentucky Horse Park. A pre-run trial was held in 1976 followed by the world champs in 1978 which kick-started the career of Sir Mark Todd.

The Horse Details:
Grappa Nera – owned by The Grape Syndicate and Jonelle Price
Bango – owned by The Numero Uno Syndicate
Johnny Royale – owned by Team Johnny Syndicate
Classic Moet – owned by Trisha Rickards, Jacky Green and Jonelle Price
Diachello – owned by Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
Xavier Faer – owned by Trisha Rickards, Nigella Hall and Tim Price
Grovine de Reve – owned by Therese Miller and Jonelle Price
Clip Clop – owned by Theresa and Madison Foote and Joe Meyer

WHAT: Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event
WHEN: April 22-25, 2021
WHERE: Kentucky, United States

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison