8 Things You Must Do at Rolex 2016

Rolex week is nearly upon us, and we know you’ve been madly packing and planning for a great trip to the Horse Capital of the World. The Kentucky Horse Park has so much to offer during Rolex, so we’ve rounded up a list of must-dos at #RK3DE 2016.

Celebrate Thoroughbreds at the Hagyard Hoedown: The Retired Racehorse Project is hosting the Hoedown at Hagyard, presented by Boehringer Ingelheim, on Saturday, April 30 in the sport horse covered arena at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute from 6 p.m. until the music stops. Steve Norman’s Shades of Grass Band will provide the entertainment with catering by central Kentucky’s award-winning Red State Barbecue, plus there is an open bar around which you can rub elbows with a number of Thoroughbred celebrities. Tickets are $50 or $35 for RRP members. All proceeds will benefit the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.

Run for Charity: The second annual RK-5K Twilight Race will take place on Friday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Rolex Kentucky’s official charity, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. This year’s run features chip timing, commemorative performance T-shirts, DJ and a new scenic course looping through the Kentucky Horse Park. Not a runner? Go for the 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk that begins five minutes after the 5k. For race updates and information, visit the RK-5K Facebook page. Click here to register for the race or make a donation.

Patrick the mini horse is Rolex bound! Photo courtesy of Jessica Schaaf.

Patrick the mini horse is Rolex bound! Photo courtesy of Jessica Schaaf.

Watch breed and discipline demonstrations: Horses of all shapes and sizes come to the Horse Park to participate in demonstrations and competitions besides the Three-Day Event. Spend some time nearby the Walnut Ring and you’ll be sure to learn something new about an unfamiliar breed and walk away with renewed respect for the versatility of the horse.

We’ve recently profiled Patrick the mini horse and Dungarvan Feather’s Gypsy Cobs who will be doing demonstrations at Rolex this year. Elisa Wallace, who is riding Simply Priceless in the four-star, will also be returning to perform in the Walnut Ring with her mustangs. You’ll also definitely want to catch part of the Prince Philip Cup Games. Click here for a full schedule.

Maker’s Mark Auction, Reception and Tastings: A limited number of Maker’s Mark Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event commemorative bottles featuring the 2015 event winner, Michael Jung riding Fischerrocana FST, will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. The auction and reception will take place Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m. at The Livery, a Lexington landmark. Tickets are $200 per individual or $300 per couple. Tickets will not be available at the door. Download the order form here.

If you can’t make it to the reception, you can still get a taste of smooth Kentucky bourbon at scheduled tastings at the Horse Park. For $15, a Maker’s Mark Distillery Bourbon Specialist will guide you through a tasting of three select Maker’s Mark bourbons. Of course, you must be 21 to enjoy. There are four tastings per day from Thursday through Sunday. Click here for available times and information on how to reserve your spot!

Jim Wofford and Chinch share a moment. Photo via EN's Instagram.

Jim Wofford and Chinch share a moment. Photo via EN’s Instagram.

Walk the cross country course: There are always a number of opportunities to walk the cross country course with top riders and coaches.
The SmartPak course walk is always a big draw, and this year Boyd Martin and Allison Springer will lead the way. The exact date and time of the course walk will be determined after the ride times are posted, and everyone who pre-registers will receive an email with the final details as soon as they are available. The first 500 registrants to visit the SmartPak Booth the morning of the walk will receive a complimentary gift. Click here to register for the course walk.
Nupafeed is hosting a course walk with Tamie Smith and Hawley Bennett-Awad at the helm on Friday, April 29 at 5 p.m. Meet at Top Rail Tack in booth 100 in the vendor area before heading out to the course. Click here to join the event.
You definitely don’t want to miss Practical Horseman’s course walk with eventing legend and columnist Jim Wofford. Meet at the cross-country start box on Friday, April 29, approximately 30 minutes after the end of the last dressage test. Don’t worry if you’re late, just look for the massive moving wave of people and the guy with the megaphone.

Remember Roger Haller: There will be a special tribute to Roger Haller from 5:40-7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 at the Head of the Lake. Roger was a tireless servant of the sport who passed away from cancer this March. His absence at this year’s Rolex will be felt my many.

See Hunter Hayes in concert at Rolex. Photo: CC.

See Hunter Hayes in concert at Rolex. Photo: CC.

Hunter Hayes Concert: Having the talented, dreamy country music superstar Hunter Hayes coming to play at concert at Rolex has been the talk of the town since the announcement. Don’t know who Hunter Hayes is? (Neither did I). A hip young eventer explains.
Hunter will perform in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on Saturday, April 30 following cross country. Tickets are $35 for general admission, and a Taylor Harris Insurance Services VIP Access Package is available for $150, which includes a VIP Pit Pass at the front of stage with a full cash bar, VIP lounge with full cash bar and food, an invitation to the VIP After Party and memorabilia signed by Hunter. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 6 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets (scroll down to select the Lexington show). A portion of the ticket sales will benefit the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the USET Foundation.
Future EN Party People of America. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Future EN Party People of America. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Party EN style: Last but not least, stop by the EN “Insanity in the Middle” Rolex Tailgate Party, presented by Amerigo. This tailgate party is our favorite way to show our appreciation for our readers, who are truly the best in the land. So come on out on cross country day, April 30, to enjoy some snacks, adult beverages (for adults only), free EN swag — and the best Rolex tailgate party on course! We hope to see you there! Here’s everything you need to know.
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) which include shopping strategies and the best ways to watch cross country.