Modified **** Stadium Jumping
CCI **** Stadium Jumping
Note: This web page is an unofficial presentation by an event groupie who has absolutely no connection with Rolex, Equestrian Events, USCTA or any other organizations responsible for producing the Rolex KY 3-Day Event.
As always, those who prefer pretty pictures over pithy prose can just follow the links above to see the stars without being bogged down in my boring blather.
The 2004 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event followed the usual plot fairly closely, with some minor twists along the way. The weather was less coöperative than it could have been, although not as hostile as it has been at some previous events. The major problem was rain earlier in the week, lingering through Friday morning, turning the grounds into a huge mosh pit.
As I wouldn't be tempted to watch two days of dressage even in good weather (well, maybe some circumstances could tempt me, but we won't go there), I managed to avoid the worst of the weather. I joined the some of the travellers at Billy's BBQ Thursday night, and then slipped out of work around noon Friday and arrived at the park as the rain was ending.
Of course, the first order of business was to check out the bar, and that brought a pleasant surprise that obliterated the remaining clouds. No, there was no Woodford Reserve (although I was told there should be, and a bottle mysteriously appeared and then disappeared). The Bourbon du jour was Buffalo Trace, which is adequate. But it didn't matter what kind of rotgut Lundy was dishing out when I was greeted by a friendly face, one of the pair of beautiful brunette bartenders from 2002, whose absence I had loudly lamented in 2003. When she remembered me and told me she still loved me, I ignored the fact that AA would probably list being remembered by a bartender from an event two years ago as one of their major warning signs. She apologized for her absence last year, saying she'd been stuck in the sponsors' tent and was "glad to be back with normal people." By the end of the weekend, she may have been reconsidering her inclusion of me in the "normal people" category.
After being adequately fortified with Buffalo Trace, I commenced the Friday routine of cruising the trade fair, harrassing vendors, and greeting any friends who were not yet alert enough to avoid me. And, I'll even confess that I watched a few rounds of dressage (since I was caught in the act, I might as well 'fess up and head off any blackmail attempts). One of the tests I watched was Kim Severson ... I guess if you're only going to watch a couple, you might as well pick the winner.
After some dressage and some more Bourbon, it was time for another recent tradition, the Lexus test drive. This tradition started last year, when Lexus hauled in a truckload of SUVs, built an obstacle course, and hired cute women to drive around in golf carts to pick up drunks and give them a chance to test-drive a vehicle as long as they left their drinks outside. Unfortunately, sometime between last year and this year, saner heads prevailed at Lexus corporate HQ, and some changes were made this year. The test course was moved farther from the tent, and the golf cart chauffeurs were eliminated, thus restricting the test drive to those who were still sober enough to walk over there. When I arrived for my test drive, the bouncer with a wire in his ear took one look at me and decided the "sober enough to walk over here" test still didn't qualify me, and declined to let me drive. At that point, I was too stunned for an adequate argument, and meekly accepted his offer to be driven around the course by a salesman.
Making matters worse, after dumping me out of the car, they didn't give me the free wine tote they promised (although one later appeared in my car, apparently left by someone who had more than her fill of my bitching about not getting one), and then they somehow managed to get me so lost that it took me 30 minutes to get back to the tent, barely in time for the traditional course stumble, and not in time for another drink before the bar closed,
The stumble was comparable to previous years. Some of the more faithful stumblers didn't make it this year, but we picked up some fresh blood, giving us a fairly motley crew. Along the way, we stumbled into Buck Davidson, and some of our younger stumblers convinced him to pose with their infamous hat. This ploy worked so well that when we later stumbled into Sven and Olaf, Jane seduced one of them into a similar pose.
And, of course, everybody knows what happens on Saturday: cross-country!. The weather was actually ideal for spectating; rain-free, but with just enough cloud cover to produce conditions where neither coats nor sunscreen were needed. The competitors had to deal with turf that was still soaked from the previous days' rain, so their rating of conditions would probably be somewhat lower. By the end of the day, I think the course was getting pretty dug out, but I guess everybody remembered their studs, because there were no major mishaps, and no oopsies that I would have attributed to slick ground.
In the morning, for the CCI **** division, I was lucky to catch up with Tammy's entourage and tour much of the course with them. Unfortunately, Reese was unable to attend this year. Smudge, the dancing schipperkee attracted almost as much attention as Reese (maybe even more attention on a per-pound basis), but just wasn't as satisfactory as a pillow.
In the afternoon, our group grew a little as we merged with the Jane/Tara/etc. crew. As everybody had seen most of the course in the morning, we opted for less mobility in the afternoon, spending more time parked at a few strategic spots where we had good views of several jumps. I opted to relax and enjoy the event and the companionship without squinting through a camera viewfinder and elbowing through crowds trying to get an unblocked camera angle. So I took fewer pictures than usual, few enough that I combined the CCI and Modified divisions into a single page. And, of course, the event wouldn't be complete without the obligatory random anonymous spectator shot; Victoria would be pleased.
Saturday night, Hollyn talked our gang into going to dinner at O'Charley's with Buck Davidson, who seemed less than impressed when told that his goofy hat picture from Friday's stumble was already visible around the world wide web. In fact, I began to wonder if he had invoked some curse on me and my camera. When I got home, I was suddenly seized by an impulse to stumble out into the pasture and talk to my horses. I dropped the camera in the yard, planning to pick it up when I returned. But, when I came back to retrieve it, it had mysteriously disappeared and was nowhere to be found. I hunted for a while in fading daylight, and continued searching after dark until my flashlight batteries ran out. I finally had to give up, and wait for daylight and a clearer head. In the morning, I thought a little more clearly about my path the previous night, and found the camera immediately. It didn't seem to have suffered much from the light rain overnight, although there was some condensation inside the lens Sunday morning, which is my excuse for some of the stadium jumping pictures being less than clear.
So with camera once again in hand, I headed back to the park on Sunday for Bloody Marys, stadium jumping, Bourbon, and more stadium jumping, and more Bourbon, in roughly that order. We had a little more rain to contend with, but fortunately nobody seemed to remember my Friday night promise that the rain was finished for the weekend. I decided to brave the light rain for part of the Modified division in the morning, long enough to get a few pictures. I stayed outside long enough to catch local favorite Leigh Smith's ride; after reading this story about how she acquired High Cotton, she might qualify as my next stalkee.
After Leigh's ride, since the rain was continuing, I returned to the tent to watch the rest on television. After a few more horses, the rain quit again, encouraging more people to vacate the tent, but by that point, I'd decided it was time to concentrate on absorbing some calories from a non-alcohol food group. Considering what Lundy was passing off as food, I probably would have been better off trashing it and going back outside, but I didn't.
After a few more shots of Bourbon, it was time for the CCI **** stadium jumping. The rain was totally finished at that point, so I spent the whole time outside in the stands and managed to get some pictures.
And then it was over, and the crowds began to pour out. Since the bar was still open, I decided to chill for a while and let traffic thin out before I faced the brutal 20-minute drive home. I soaked up more Bourbon while my imagination drifted into alcohol-enhanced fantasies involving a certain bartender; the more I looked at that beautiful long black braid, I just couldn't help trying to imagine how gorgeous that hair would be unbraided.
And a quick note of gratitude to new friends for arranging and taking one of the above pictures and sending it to me. This is in stark contrast to another alleged friend who actually rescinded an offer to lend me a flash for my camera two years ago after figuring out the intended target!!