Following his win in the 2011 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, former Rolex Kentucky champion William Fox-Pitt is now a contender for the Rolex Grand Slam prize.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is awarded to the rider who wins the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials event in any consecutive order. Until now, only British rider Pippa Funnell has managed this staggering achievement, winning the title in 2003.
Fox-Pitt faces the daunting challenge of following up his Burghley victory with back-to-back wins required at both Kentucky and Badminton, just one week apart.
He will ride Burghley winner Parklane Hawk at the Kentucky Three-Day Event from April 26 to 29, and the horse flew out from Britiain on April 17.
Fox-Pitt’s record ranks with the best in the sport’s history. He was the first British rider to earn Eventing’s Number 1 World Ranking, a distinction he achieved in 2002 and again in 2009 and 2010. He has ridden in three Olympic Games—1996 in Atlanta, 2004 in Athens where he won a team Silver Medal, and 2008 at Beijing where he won a team Bronze. He also won a team Bronze Medal at the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Jerez, a team Silver at the 2006 WEG in Aachen, and team Gold and individual Silver at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky.
Fox-Pitt is the only rider to have won five of the world’s six Four Star Events, having won Burghley a record six times (1994, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011), Badminton (2004), Luhmulen (2008), Rolex Kentucky (2010) and Pau (2011).
He has won the HSBC FEI Classics twice (2008 & 2010) and finished second in 2011. He has won seven team Gold Medals at European Championships and has been the number one ranked British rider nine times.
Fox-Pitt took time out this week to talk about the task ahead.
How is Parklane Hawk?
Parklane Hawk is on very good form. He has undergone some good preparation and is feeling fit, so hopefully he will perform very well. In terms of travelling, he is quite a sensitive horse but he comes from New Zealand so he has travelled before. To get them from England to the States, the carry-on is quite excessive.
How has your training and preparations been this winter and spring?
It’s gone to plan, and so far it’s been hitch-free. The horse has had three good runs, and he’s on good form for the States.
Why did you pick Parklane Hawk for Kentucky?
I discussed it with the owner [Catherine Witt] and that’s just how it worked out. The owner has one horse for Badminton as well and we decided between us that as he’s done Lexington before, we thought it was a good one for Parklane Hawk.
Do you know anything about designer Derek di Grazia’s changes to this year’s Kentucky cross-country course?
I haven’t seen the changes that Derek has made, but from what I understand, he is being a bit more authoritative this year, so I look forward to seeing the new course, as it is hard to predict what it will entail. It could have a good change and feel to it!
My main aspiration for the week is that Parklane Hawk consolidates his form from Burghley.
Travelling out to Kentucky
I fly out to Kentucky on Monday [April 23]. It’ll be all about Rolex this week and then we’ll focus on Badminton and the big dream of winning the Rolex Grand Slam.