Apr 22, 2024

Fast Facts: 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff

Welcome back to one of the most exciting weeks in eventing in the U.S.—Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event week! The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, is going to be full to the brim with eventing lovers from all over the world.

While all eyes will be on the feature event, the Defender CCI5*-L competition, the event also offers the equally exciting Cosequin CCI4*-S division, which this year is jam-packed with top horse and rider pairs who have their sights set on being selected as members of the U.S. Eventing Team at the Paris Olympics.

And as if that wasn’t enough to get fans excited, the CSI4* show jumping competition this year, which offers the Welcome Speed Cup on Friday, a special two phase event on Saturday during the day, and the $225,000 Invitational Grand Prix on Saturday evening, also features some of the biggest names in show jumping and is a major crowd pleaser!

All the action at Kentucky officially kicks off on Thursday, April 25, and runs through Sunday, April 28. In preparation for this week’s competition, we’ve rounded up some interesting stats for you on the five-star field!

The CCI5*-L Field:

  • As of today, there are 36 horse and rider pairs set to compete representing seven different countries: the U.S., Ireland, Germany, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand.
  • Just looking at the countries represented from a numbers perspective, the U.S. stands a good statistical chance of being on the podium with 16 of the 36 entries representing the stars and stripes. Great Britain brings the second strongest contingent with four riders.
  • That being said, from a competition perspective, there are some seriously strong contenders from all over the world.
    • Oliver Townend (GBR) has been on top of the podium at Kentucky three times in his career.
    • Also representing Great Britain, Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir, the 2022 Reserve Champions at Kentucky and victors of the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships, are back and ready to claim that top spot.
    • Boyd Martin (USA) is bringing his 2022 $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final and 2022 MARS Maryland 5 Star winning partner On Cue.
    • Tom McEwen (GBR) is bringing his 2021 Toyko Olympics Team Gold partner JL Dublin back to the bluegrass. This pair finished second here last year in their first five-star together.
    • Olympians on this year’s roster include Phillip Dutton (USA), Matthew Grayling (NZL), Martin, McEwen, Joe Meyer (NZL), Lauren Nicholson (USA), Doug Payne (USA), and Townend.
  • There are four 18-year-olds competing: Lisa Marie Fergusson’s (CAN) homebred Honor Me, Grayling’s mount Trudeau, Lillian Heard Wood’s (USA) longtime partner LCC Barnaby, and On Cue.
  • 13 seems to be the prime age for five-star horses this year. There are 11 horses who are 13 years old on the roster.
  • Four riders have two horses entered: Jennie Brannigan (USA) has FE Lifestyle and Twilightslastgleam entered, Dutton will be competing on Azure with Quasi Cool, Wakita 54 and Ferrie’s Cello will both be ridden by Andrew McConnon (USA), and Doug Payne’s (USA) two entries are Quantum Leap and Camarillo.
  • The girls outweigh the guys in numbers this year with 17 female riders and 15 male riders in the five-star field.
  • The Irish Sport Horse is the most popular breed this year with eight horses registered hailing from Irish descent.
  • However, German bred horses have the highest representation in the field with nine of the entries having been born in Germany. U.S.-bred horses follow shortly behind with eight U.S.-bred in this year’s entry pool. Go U.S. breeders!
  • Five of the five-star entries are graduates of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program. You can read more about them here!
  • Looking at the horses entered, there are nine mares and 27 geldings on the roster.
  • Grayling and Dutton get to share the honors of most senior riders in the field at the age of 60.

The Facts:

  • Philip Surl (GBR) is the CCI5*-L technical delegate with Andrew Temkin (USA) and Mary Deunow (USA) assisting. Both Temkin and Duenow will be the technical delegates for the CCI4*-S.
  • Robert Stevenson (USA) is the president of the ground jury of the CCI5*-L and will be assisted by Xavier Le Sauce (FRA) and Judy Hancock (GBR). In the CCI4*-S, the president of the ground jury will be Christian Steiner (AUT) assisted by Valerie Pride (USA).
  • Derek di Grazia (USA) has been the cross-country course designer since 2011 and will be assisted by Jay Hambly (CAN).
  • Steve Stephens (USA) has been the show jumping course designer since 2021.
  • The CCI5*-L and CCI4*-S are both qualifiers for the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final that will take place at the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds.
  • $400,000 in prize money is up for grabs in the CCI5*-L and $50,000 in the CCI4*-S.
  • Stop by the Ethel M Chocolates booth located in the Sponsor Courtyard area for a free sample or to customize a 12-piece box of chocolates for your favorite person - or just for you! All your favorite flavors are back, including Kentucky favorite, Knob Creek Bourbon Barrels, just in time for Mother's Day!
  • The USEA Adult Rider Program is hosting two amazing gatherings during the event for members of the USEA Adult Rider Program. First is the chance to walk the five-star cross-country course with course designer Derek di Grazia on Thursday, April 25, at 8:30 a.m. Meet up at the five-star start box to join! And then on cross-country day, the USEA Area V Adult Rider Program is hosting a tailgate in section L. This is a great opportunity to connect with other Adult Riders from all over the country and learn more about the USEA Adult Rider Program if you are not already a member.
  • Don't forget to join the USEA and the USHJA at booth #316 on the hill for Champions Live on Friday, April 26, at 9:30 a.m. Featured guests will be the 2024 Kentucky Champion Tamie Smith and top show jumping rider who has been shortlisted for the 2024 Paris Olympics Aaron Vale.
  • The USEA is proud to be the official retailer for the Mai Baum hats that will benefit the Strides for Equality Equestrian (SEE) Mai Baum Scholarship Grant through the USEA Foundation. All proceeds from the sale of these hats will go directly to SEE to support their offering of hands-on experiential scholarships for riders who are part of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community. Come grab your Mai Baum hat and check out all of the other USEA apparel at our booth behind the Rolex Stadium!

How To Watch:

For those that can’t be there in person, the USEF Network will be offering wall-to-wall coverage through the partnership between US Equestrian (USEF) and ClipMyHorse.TV. Coverage will be available free to USEF members

USEF is offering specials for new members to sign up, including a free USEF Fan Membership to watch the competition from Kentucky live or 50 percent off a USEF Subscriber Membership with the promo code USEFK3DE2024 to watch live and on-demand. Through either of these or a USEF Competing Membership, members will then create an account with ClipMyHorse.TV to access the coverage. More information is available at https://www.usef.org/network

USEF and ESPN have teamed up to broadcast the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™ on Saturday, May 11 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. EST on ESPN 2.

The Competition Schedule:

Wednesday, April 24

  • 1:00 p.m. - Cross-country course open to public
  • 2:00 p.m. - First Horse Inspection; CCI5*-L only, sponsored by Hagyard Pharmacy - High Hope Inspection Lane

Thursday, April 25

  • 7:45 a.m. CCI4*-S Dressage Test Ride - Rolex Stadium
  • 8:00 a.m. -11:30 a.m. CCI4*-S Dressage Tests - Rolex Stadium
  • 12:15 p.m. - CCI5*-L Dressage Test Ride - Rolex Stadium
  • 12:45 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - CCI5*-L Dressage Tests Begin - Rolex Stadium

Friday, April 26

  • 8:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. CCI4*-S Dressage Tests - Rolex Stadium
  • 12:30 p.m. - 4:10 p.m. CCI5*-L Dressage Tests - Rolex Stadium
  • 7 p.m. - Kentucky Invitational CSI3* $38,700 Welcome Speed Cup 1.45m, presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute - Rolex Stadium

Saturday, April 27

  • 9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m - CCI4*-S Cross-country
  • 11:45 a.m. - Kentucky Invitational $35,000 Special Phase 1.45m - Rolex Stadium
  • 1:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. CCI5*-L Cross-country
  • 6 p.m. - $226,000 Kentucky Invitational CSI3* 1.60m - Rolex Stadium

Sunday, April 28

  • 7:30 a.m. CCI4*-S and CCI5*-L Horse Inspection, sponsored by Hagyard Pharmacy — High Hope Inspection Lane
  • 10:15 a.m. - Presentation of Officials and Flags - Rolex Stadium
  • 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - CCI4*-S Jumping Test; reverse order of placing - Rolex Stadium
  • 12:30-12:45 p.m. Presentation of the Awards - Rolex Stadium
  • 2:00 p.m. - CCI5*-L Jumping Test first group; reverse order of placing - Rolex Stadium
  • 3:00 p.m. - CCI5*-L Jumping Test second group; reverse order of placing -Rolex Stadium
  • 4:00 p.m. Presentation of the Awards - Rolex Stadium

​Helpful Links

Follow the USEA event coverage on social media!

Facebook | Instagram | Threads | TikTok

May 21, 2024 Eventing News

USEA Now Accepting Coach Applications for 2025 EA21 Program

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is excited to announce that coach applications are now being accepted for the 2025 USEA Emerging Athlete U21 Program (EA21). One additional coach will be selected and hired for a three-year term for the EA21 program, teaching one two-day summertime regional clinic annually throughout the term.

May 21, 2024 Eventing News

Now On Course: Laury Marshall and Finley Have Learned The Sport Together

Sometimes, a kind word is all it takes to make someone’s day, says Laury Marshall. Marshall and Finley, her 17-hand Thoroughbred mare, had just finished their dressage test at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds. They’d performed solidly, good for a 36.4 and middle-of-the-pack standing in the Beginner Novice Rider championship division at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

May 20, 2024 Interscholastic

USEA Podcast #361: Reliving the USEA Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Eventing Championships

We are still riding on a bit of a high after the success of the 2024 USEA Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Eventing Championships, so we loved taking the opportunity to chat about this year's event with Stable View's Barry Oliff, member of the winning Intercollegiate team Hayden Wathen, and member of the winning Interscholastic team Collins Zgutowicz. Let the countdown to the 2025 championships begin...

May 19, 2024 Eventing News

From Kalispell to Kentucky: A Trip East Proves Fruitful for Jen Moody

For eventer Jen Moody, the trek from Montana to compete at this year’s Defender Kentucky Cosequin Lexington CCI4*S was a long, chilly journey, but she had big goals for her kind-hearted Thoroughbred, Eye Of The Storm. With her 4-year-old daughter, Valkyrie, and longtime friend and supporter, Sarah Broussard, by her side, the journey to the Bluegrass State—and beyond—exceeded her expectations.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA