7 Things You Must Do at Rolex 2017

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive at the Rolex Horse Inspection. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld. Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive at the Rolex Horse Inspection. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Seasoned Rolex-goers have their plan of action set early. They’ll hit all the trade fair for great deals, snag autographs from their favorite riders, earn those 10,000 steps 10 times over on official cross country course walks and exploring the stunning Kentucky Horse Park. Everyone has their must-do list between rides, but Rolex is rolling out some new activities and entertainment opportunities this year that you need to know about. Here are seven things you must do at Rolex Kentucky 2017.

Farm-to-Table Fundraiser

Love local eats? Support the 2017 Rolex Kentucky official charity Central Kentucky Riding for Hope and sign up for the Farm-to-Table Fundraiser on Thursday, April 27 in the famous “Big Barn” at KHP. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvre beginning at 6:30 p.m. will be followed by a three-course dinner for which a special menu featuring locally sourced ingredients has been set by Kentucky chefs Jeremy Ashby and Janey Thompson (check out the menu!). Tickets are available online or call 859-254-8123.

Leslie and John doing some pre-race warmup stretches in the media center before the RK-5K. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Run for Charity

Here’s another way to support Central Kentucky Riding for Hope. The RK-5K Twilight Race has become a popular tradition at Rolex. Take your pick between a timed 5k or a 1-mile Fun Run/Walk (that sounds more my speed!). The race is Friday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. and the proceeds go to the official charity.

Last year EN challenged Chronicle of the Horse in a race to the 5k finish. A strange series of events that followed unsurprisingly resulted in John, Wylie and Chinch bringing “shame upon this family” and owing a debt in beer. I say, this calls for a rematch! (Breaking: EN is now interviewing for new staff members with marathon experience, the ability to focus on a single task and can start this week.)

If you just want to register for the race, click here.

Camp in comfort. Photo via Flickr/CC/Ranch Seeker. (This is not an example of Rolex glamping).


Experience your Rolex-cation in a whole new way with glamping in the Kentucky Horse Park! Glampers (glamorous campers) will stay in waterproof canvas tents complete with a bed, table and chairs, a light, blankets and pillows. There will be a fire pit for cooking and socializing and an area that you can charge your phone (you might be ‘camping’ but you still need to read EN). Click here to learn more. Glamping not your style? Click here for regular KHP camping info.

Champions Live!

New for 2017, Rolex is bringing you “Champions Live!”, a panel discussion featuring an equestrian champion from each of the three Olympic disciplines. This year’s featured champions are Eventing’s own Phillip Dutton, show jumping legend and NBC Analyst Melanie Smith Taylor and Grand Prix dressage rider Silva Martin.

The panel will be moderated by the one and only James Wofford, a champion several times over! Meet in the Kentucky Club at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, following the final horse inspection. The panel is FREE and open to anyone with a Sunday grounds ticket. If you can’t make it in person, USEF Network will be live streaming the entire session!

Pre-Show Jumping Show

The show jumping opening ceremonies will have a special guest this year. Dan James will be performing in the Rolex Arena at noon on Sunday. Dan is one-half of the training and entertainment duo Double Dan Horsemanship. Dan James and Dan Steers have taught clinics and performed in exhibitions all over their home country of Australia and other major events around the world since forming Double Dan Horsemanship in 2009, including performing on Australia’s Got Talent in 2011.

Their mission is to “help create well rounded horses that are able to go on to do any discipline or job to achieve that perfect equine relationship.” Don’t miss the chance to watch how it’s done!

Watch Pony Club Mounted Games at Rolex! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

ALL the Demos!

There is never a shortage of interesting FREE demonstrations and exhibitions taking place in the Walnut Ring. Several of these performances occur more than once so don’t panic if you’re favorite Rolex competitor is in the ring at the same time as a demo you really want to see.

Some of this year’s demos include the Keeneland Pony Club Quadrille, a Pas de deux to “Beauty and the Beast,” Fleur De Lis Vaulters, the Prince Philip Cup Games, tons of breed exhibitions and a preview of the 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover. There is much more to see! Click for a full schedule.

“Hello, and welcome to the EN Tailgate Party. Can we get you some champagne? A new tattoo?” Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Party with EN
And of course, you won’t want to miss the party of the year. The EN Tailgate, presented by Amerigo, is full free swag, refreshments, games and general insanity. Chinch will be there and so will a few other celebrity guests. Enjoy watching the cross country while you party down; we’ve got a great location this year. Stay tuned for more details. See you there!
What is your Rolex must-do? Let us and your friends know in the comments. Want more ideas? Check out our must-do lists from years past (2014, 2015, 2016).