2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event Preview

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Defending Kentucky Three-Day Event champion Tamie Smith
Defending Kentucky Three-Day Event champion Tamie Smith. Photo by Mary Cage

Lexington, Ky. — Three of the world’s four top-ranked riders and defending champion Tamie Smith (USA) head an impressive list of entries for the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™. Olympians and World Champions highlight the list of riders from nine countries entered to compete when the event returns to the Kentucky Horse Park, April 25-28.

Organized by Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI), the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian (K3DE) features one of only seven annual Five Star three-day events in the world. Known as “The Best Weekend All Year,” the event annually attracts nearly 90,000 spectators who also enjoy extensive shopping, a variety of hospitality experiences and a wide array of demonstrations. In addition to the traditional CCI5*-L, the event also features the Cosequin® Lexington 4* and Kentucky CSI4* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.

With many riders’ sights set on the Paris Olympics this summer, both the CCI5*-L and the Cosequin® Lexington 4* will be thrilling to watch. Smith won last year’s K3DE 5* with Mai Baum, her longtime partner with whom she was reserve rider on the 2021 Olympic team and helped the U.S. win team Silver at the 2022 World Championships. She has entered him in the 4* alongside Danito (with whom she finished second in the 2022 MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill) and Kynan.

Looking to dethrone Smith are several of the sport’s biggest names, including three of the world’s four highest-ranked athletes: British riders Oliver Townend (World #1 and three-time Kentucky 5* champion) and Tom McEwen (World #4 and last year’s Reserve Champion at Kentucky), and three-time U.S. Olympic veteran Boyd Martin (World #3). Townend and McEwen have one entry each in the 5*, while Martin has several horses competing at both levels.

Also riding for Great Britain are 2022 World Champion Yasmin Ingham aboard Banzai Du Loir, her Gold-medal partner from the 2022 World Championships with whom she finished second at Kentucky that same year, and Leslie Law, a two-time Olympian with three Olympic medals including individual Gold in 2004.

In addition to Smith and Martin, the star-studded U.S. contingent includes 2012 Olympian Will Coleman, who has several rides entered including his 2022 World Championship mount Off The Record; seven-time Olympian and five-time USEF CCI5*-L National Champion Phillip Dutton; Olympic veterans Lauren Nicholson and Doug Payne; and all four members of the U.S.’s Silver medal-winning team from the 2023 Pan American Games – Sydney Elliott, Liz Halliday, Sharon White, and individual Gold medalist Caroline Pamukcu.

Representing Canada are two-time Olympians Colleen Loach and Jessica Phoenix, as well as Tik Maynard and defending Cosequin® Lexington 4* champion Karl Slezak. Other international contenders include Olympic veterans Matthew Grayling and Joe Meyer of New Zealand and Germany’s Christoph Wahler, who helped Germany win team Gold at the 2022 World Championships.

The full list of CCI5*-L entries can be found here.

The Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S entries can be found here.

Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™

The Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event (K3DE) is a thrilling multi-day competition featuring Olympic-level riders and horses in what can best be described as an equestrian triathlon. Horse and rider pairs compete in three phases of the competition – Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping – for $400,000 in prize money to those competing at the CCI5*-L level. K3DE is the largest and longest-running Five Star event in the Americas and as the United States’ premier event, it also serves as the Defender/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS Equestrian for the U.S. athletes. Rolex is the Official Timepiece and Event Partner.

Cosequin® Lexington CCI4*-S

Introduced in 2021, the Cosequin® Lexington 4*-S runs concurrently with the CCI5*-L competition, featuring the three phases of eventing – dressage, cross country and show jumping. The Cosequin® Lexington 4*-S offers $50,000 prize money. Tickets for viewing the Cosequin® Lexington 4*-S are included when purchasing the K3DE tickets.

Kentucky CSI4* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute

The $225,000 Kentucky CSI4* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute will take place on Saturday afternoon, April 27, after the cross-country portion of the K3DE. As part of the competition, there will also be a $35,000 Welcome Speed Cup Ranking Class on Friday in the Rolex Stadium, after the day’s K3DE dressage competition. In addition to the new 4* level for the 2024 Grand Prix, there will be a new $35,000 1.45m Two-Phase during the lunch hour on Saturday, April 27. No stadium seat ticket is required for Friday’s Ranking Class. For more Grand Prix information, please visit here.

Further information about the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian, the Cosequin® Lexington 4*-S, and the Kentucky CSI4* Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is available at this link.

— Edited Press Release

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