|With the equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on the summer horizon in Hong Kong, British competitors and those based in Great Britain from other countries like Australia, home country of the last two Rolex Kentucky champions, remained home.
Foreign horses returned with a vengeance in 2009, making Rolex Kentucky a true prelude to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG). Representatives of Great Britain and Australia returned, with some new British faces also crossing the pond. Also coming for the first time were riders and horses from Argentina, Ecuador, France, Germany and The Netherlands.
In 2010, the foreign riders returned in force to Rolex Kentucky to visit the WEG venue and to gain familiarity with the terrain and the types of questions, Rolex Kentucky and WEG Cross-Country Course Designer, Mike Etherington-Smith, would be asking in the Fall at WEG. Rolex Kentucky also served as a U.S. Team Selection Trial for WEG.
2010 celebrated many milestoneís for EEI, most significantly was the 30th year of Rolex Watch U.S.A.ís sponsorship of the Event. The support Rolex Watch U.S.A. has given is unparalleled and is truly cherished by EEI and the Eventing community. The Event also marked the retirement of long time Cross-Country Course Designer Mike Etherington-Smith, his 18 years with Rolex Kentucky have without a doubt helped the success of the Event and to it becoming a Four Star in 1998. Equally responsible for the Eventís success is Event Director, Jane Atkinson, who also retired after the World Equestrian Games in 2010. The Eventís long history of achievements can be directly attributed to her vision and tireless support of EEI and the sport of Eventing.
The 2011 Rolex Kentucky was again a qualifier for the 2012 London Olympic Games. EEI welcomed back foreign competitors after the first WEG held outside of Europe. Derek di Grazia had his Four Star début as Cross-Country Designer, after apprenticing with previous designer, Mike Etherington-Smith. di Grazia brought a fresh look to the Cross-Country Course for riders and horses.
The Kentucky Horse Park underwent incredible facility changes for WEG, including the addition of the Alltech Indoor Arena. EEI introduced in 2011 the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup, a second competition held during the week of Rolex Kentucky. The CRI5* and the World Freestyle Championship class of the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup brought a new crowd to Eventing and introduced Eventing enthusiasts to the exciting sport of Reining.
2012 marked the 15th CCI**** held at Rolex Kentucky, which makes it only fitting to be a U.S. Selection Trial for the 2012 London Olympics. It will also mark the 35th year EEI has hosted the Event. The Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup will join the Event again after itís sensational debut in 2011.