Lexington, Ky., April 20 -The cloud of volcanic ash that has canceled hundreds of airplane flights from Europe has forced the organizers of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone, to replace four of its officials at the last minute.
Only Ulrich Schmitz of Arizona remains of the three people scheduled to be the judges for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Marilyn Payne, of New Jersey, will replace Anne-Mette Binder of Denmark, and Christian Landholt of Switzerland will replace Sue Baxter of Great Britain. Gretchen Butts of Maryland has been named as the technical delegate, although Tom Ryckewaert of Belgium may arrive later in the week.
In addition, Mike Etherington-Smith of Great Britain, who's been the Rolex Kentucky cross-country course designer since 1994, is not expected to arrive until Friday, the day before the cross-country phase. Derek di Grazia of California will stand in for him.
This year Rolex Kentucky is also hosting the dressage and show jumping test events for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and many of those officials have had to be replaced too. The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park from Sept. 25-Oct. 10.
The Kentucky Cup CDI, the dressage test event, begins today (Tuesday, April 20) with the Grand Prix, continues on Wednesday with the Grand Prix Special, and concludes on Thursday evening with the Grand Prix freestyle.
Joan Macartney of Canada has replaced Stephen Clarke of Great Britain as the president of the five-member ground jury, and Charlotte Bredahl, of California, has replaced Wojtek Markoski of Poland. Mary Seefried of Australia, Janet Foy of Colorado, and Linda Zang of Maryland remain.
The Kentucky Cup CSI, the show jumping test event, begins on Friday evening and continues on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The ground jury remains unchanged, but course designer Conrad Homfeld of the United States has been trapped in Europe. Richard Jeffery of Great Britain, who has designed the beautiful show jumping courses at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event for a decade, will replace Homfeld. American Karen Golding was scheduled to be the show jumping chief steward, but she too has been trapped in Europe and will be replaced by Peter Lane of Canada.
Two of Great Britain's leading contenders for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event have had to endure trains, planes and automobiles to reach Lexington. Oliver Townend, who will become only he second rider to achieve the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam if he wins this weekend, took a train to Paris and then paid $3,000 to ride in a taxi from Paris to Madrid in order to catch a flight to Miami. He arrived in Lexington just after 11:00 this morning. William Fox-Pitt missed his train to Madrid but was able to persuade a neighbor to give him a ride in his private plane to reach Madrid in time for his U.S.-bound flight.
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Bridgestone, is America's only four-star competition. The world's best horses and rides vie for $250,000 in prize money and the coveted Rolex Championship.
This year NBC has expanded its television coverage of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event from 60 to 90 minutes. The program will air on Saturday, May 15, from 3:00 to 4:30 EDT, just prior to the Preakness Stakes.