April 24, 2008

Three past winners are among the starting lineup of this year's Rolex Kentucky CCI****, which is under way now at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The event is the US Equestrian Federation's eventing selection trial for this year's Olympics in Hong Kong.

The Ground Jury held three of the 44 horses presented to them during the first horse inspection on Wednesday. The jury accepted two of them - Neville Bardos, ridden by Boyd Martin of Australia, and Dun To A T, ridden by Jonathan Holling of Ocala, Florida, - when re-presented. But Will Faudree, of Southern Pines, North Carolina, decided to withdraw his veteran Antigua instead of presenting him again.

The Ground Jury members are Martin Plewa of Germany as president, Nick Burton of Great Britain and Jo Young of Canada. Plewa will be the president of the Ground Jury for eventing at the Olympics.

Past winners Karen O'Connor, Stephen Bradley and Kim Severson aren't riding the same horses they've previously guided to victory, but are all still leading contenders for the Rolex watch and to make the Olympic team.

O'Connor, 50, was the individual gold medalist at the 2007 Pan Am Games on Theodore O'Connor (one of her two mounts here), and was a member of the 1988, 1996 and 2000 Olympic teams. Severson, 34, was the individual silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics. And Bradley was a member of the 1992 Olympic team. O'Connor will also ride Hugh Knows, Severson is riding Tipperary Liadhnan, and Bradley is riding From and Brandenburg's Joshua.

Another strong favorite to win and to make the Olympic team is Phillip Dutton, who won two team gold medals for his native Australia before gaining US citizenship in early 2007. Dutton, who's finished second at Rolex Kentucky several times, won the individual silver medal at the Pan Am Games. He's riding Connaught and Woodburn.

Riders from Canada, Australia and Great Britain are also riding at Rolex Kentucky in the hope of being selected for their nation's Olympic teams.