The Second Decade
Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI) began a second decade in 1986, again offering Advanced (CCI) and Intermediate Three-Day Events.
In 1987, with the Pan American Games scheduled for Indiana in August, Kentucky added a Selection Trial division for those already on the U.S. Equestrian Team's Three-Day Long List and allowed foreign competitors to compete in this division also. The CCI division hosted the USET Spring Three-Day Event Championship and was also used by the USET as a qualifying competition for the 1988 Olympic Games. The Intermediate division served as the first test of the year in three-day event competition for horses and riders heading toward Advanced level competition.
In order to ensure that horses and riders are able to compete under the best possible climatic conditions, EEI moved the dates of the 1988 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event one month earlier to get away from the heat, high humidity and hard ground that had plagued the competition in recent years. The Advanced (CCI) Three-Day Event of the 1988 Event served as the Final Olympic Selection Trial for those under consideration for the U.S. Three-Day Event Team for the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul. The Open Intermediate Horse Trials division served as a major prep for the first Intermediate level Three-Day Event of the year in Virginia in late May.
With the 1990 World Championships scheduled for Stockholm, Sweden, the Advanced division of the 1989 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event served as an Observation Trial to assist the U.S. Equestrian Team in selecting horse and rider combinations to represent the United States in competition abroad. A Young Riders (16-21) Open Intermediate Horse Trials division was also utilized by the USET to observe Olympians of the future with an eye toward sending representatives abroad to compete in Three-Day Events for Young Riders.
The Advanced (CCI**) Three-Day Event of the 1990 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event served as the Final U.S. Selection Trial for candidates for the World Championships Team. The Open Intermediate Horse Trials saw Young Riders and the over-21s tackle one of the more difficult and demanding Intermediate level Cross-Country courses in the nation.
The 1991 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event served as a qualifying competition for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. The Open Intermediate Horse Trials provided an opportunity for riders to fulfill one of the qualifications for consideration for the 1991 Pan American Games Three-Day Event Championships held in Georgia in November.
In 1992, Kentucky was the Final U.S. Selection Trial for the Olympics. For those riders whose horses were not yet fit enough or hadn't gained enough mileage for a major CCI*** the end of April, Kentucky's new Advanced Horse Trials filled an important place on the competition calendar. With the Checkmate CCI*** in Canada three weeks following Kentucky, the Advanced Horse Trials was the perfect preparatory competition.
Kentucky added the first FEI Americas Cup Final to its roster of championships in 1993, hosting this new international individual championship for competitors who qualified by completing a CCI** in 1992. The Advanced Horse Trials again served as a preparatory competition for Three-Day Events later in the year and for some their first time at the highest level of Horse Trials competition.
The 1994 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event served as a USET Selection Trial for the World Three-Day Championships held in The Hague, The Netherlands, July 27-31. It also again hosted the USET Spring Three-Day Event Championship. The Advanced Horse Trials provided invaluable experience over a top quality course for riders preparing for later three- day events.
The 1995 Event began the road to the 1996 Olympics for riders by serving as an Olympic Qualifying Competition in addition to the USET Spring Championship. Kentucky was also used by the USET as an Observation Trial for the European Three-Day Championships, opened to countries outside Europe for the first time. The Advanced Horse Trials again prepped riders for later Three-Day Events.
Rolex Kentucky 1996 served as the only Selection Trial in North America for the Olympic Games, with the Badminton Horse Trials (CCI****) in England the next weekend the other USET Selection Trial. In addition to the CCI*** being used as a Selection Trial, a special division, called the Pre-Atlanta Invitational, enabled Olympic candidates who had already fulfilled the Three-Day Event requirements to be tested under conditions of an abbreviated Endurance Test (no Phase B, Steeplechase, or Phase C, Roads & Tracks). This division also was open to foreign riders meeting the same criteria and six horses ran in this division. It is noteworthy that seven of the fifteen 1996 Olympic Three-Day Event medal winners either began their road to the Olympics at Rolex Kentucky 1995 or used the 1996 Event as their major prep for the games.
With a record number of Advanced level horses ready to compete in a three-day event at the three star level, Rolex Kentucky hosted the three-day event division in 1997 with a full complement of 66 starters. For the first time, the Event served as a Selection Trial for both the European Open Championships at Burghley, England, and the European Young Riders Championships at Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, both in September, in addition to hosting the annual USET Spring Three-Day Event Championship presented by Bayer.