Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

It’s The Moments That Make Rolex Kentucky Great

Each year in this magazine we publish photos of the top horses and riders from the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. We show you the glamour of the awards ceremony, the emotion of a clean stadium round, the grit and determination of a foot-perfect cross-country round.
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Each year in this magazine we publish photos of the top horses and riders from the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. We show you the glamour of the awards ceremony, the emotion of a clean stadium round, the grit and determination of a foot-perfect cross-country round.

What we don’t usually get to show you are the quieter moments of Rolex Kentucky, the behind-the-scenes images. A photographic article “Images Of Rolex” (p. 46) allows you a glimpse of some poignant moments at the event. They’re the shots that professional photographers with decades of experience chose to best illustrate the event as a whole. It’s what Rolex Kentucky means to each of them.

In 2004, I was lucky enough to attend Rolex Kentucky as a groom for a good friend. I have dozens of photos from that week—from walking the cross-country course to preparing for dressage to back in the stable area on Saturday night when we were chilling the beers as we iced our horse’s legs.

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I documented every moment I could. I’ve taken many photographs of competition horses in my job at the Chronicle, but I’m especially proud of the blurry, far-away, poorly timed stadium photos I have of my friend’s clear round that year. It’s hard to take a perfect picture when you’re tearing up, jumping each fence with them and cheering!

While all of those photos I took that year at Kentucky serve their purpose in illustrating the many stories I tell about that week to others, it’s the images in my mind that remain the most cherished. I can still hear my charge’s hooves clopping up the pavement at the jog. I can still smell his wet gray-horse scent as I grazed him on Sunday morning after his bath. I can still feel my heart pound as he cantered across
the finish line, and I saw my friend’s sheer glee. Those are the moments I don’t have permanently recorded in photographs, but they’re the ones I remember the best and will never forget.
   
I can guarantee that everyone who has attended Rolex Kentucky has such memories, from the veteran riders like Bruce Davidson and Phillip Dutton to the photographers to the volunteers. I’m sure there are many spectators who can still describe to the minutest detail when they witnessed a particularly
brilliant ride through the Head of the Lake, or when a rider they’d admired stopped to sign an autograph.
   
That’s what’s so special about that week in April. I’m never going to ride at Rolex Kentucky, but I have indelible memories of that time and that place. I think that’s what really sets the event apart—it’s not just the riders who feel special. Everyone at Rolex Kentucky feels as if they’re part of something larger, something momentous.

Molly Sorge, Assistant Editor

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