In less than a month many of us will converge on Lexington, Kentucky for the Rolex Three Day Event. Everyday at the Kentucky Horse Park is one that should be cherished. Whether you’re lucky enough to be there for all four days, making a day trip for cross country, or taking in everything Kentucky has to offer during your week-long spring vacation make sure you make the most of it.
My wife and I have made this trip for the past 11 years. We started just going to cross country for one day as part of our annual spring vacation to the races at Keeneland. We then added Sundays at show jumping, although we usually stood three to four deep at the rail trying to get a glimpse of our favorite riders. Then they added tailgating as an option for seating to Saturday’s cross country and we been hooked ever since.
Tailgating opened a whole new avenue for us. We are foxhunters so a good Saturday morning tailgate is right up our alley. Whether you got a premium space or a standard space you are at Rolex camped out to watch cross country.
Tailgating has introduced us to many new friends. One said friend, photographer Allie Conrad, would become instrumental in me getting my first OTTB earlier this year. We met John Prather who would become our “boss” when we started volunteering last year. We have met many people whose names we can’t remember but will remember their faces when we see them in the years to come.
If this is your first trip to Rolex, and you’ll be in town before Friday I highly recommend a trip to Keeneland. Even if you can’t make it to the races, make sure you get by for the morning workouts. They start early, but what better way to see a sunrise then with the beautiful backdrop that is Keeneland, complete with galloping thoroughbreds. And don’t forget to make your way by the track kitchen for breakfast.
If you are on a mixed family vacation, there is the Bourbon Trail, and some great golf courses in Lexington. Everyone can enjoy a visit to Old Friends, a retirement center for many well known race horses. A visit to a breeding farm can be educational as well, but be sure to make a reservation — it is after all the end of breeding and foaling season.
If it is shopping that you like, there is no shortage of it at Rolex. Whether you need d-ring savers or a new horse trailer you can find it in the Trade Fair. Tack, clothing, saddles, equipment, farm needs, horse needs … it’s all here. If you can’t find it at Rolex it probably does not exist.
If you are tailgating on Saturday here are a few pointers from my experience. Get there early, as the traffic builds in a hurry on cross country morning. If you will put up a shelter, be sure that you have stakes to secure it to the ground. Grills must be gas operated, no open flames. No glass allowed.
If you need assistance look for someone with guest services — this will be marked on their golf cart as well as their credentials. We have always offered to feed volunteers working our area; it is a simple gesture that is a huge thank you for their efforts. If you are in tailgate section S, which is a new section by horse inspection, there is a good chance you will see my wife Alison and myself as we will be your guest services connection.
The Rolex Three Day Event is the stuff memories are made of. See you all in Lexington at the end of the month!!