• Share:

Focusing on Kentucky and Looking Ahead to Paris 2024 Olympic Games

by Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department | Apr 24, 2024, 3:00 PM

In addition to being a world-class event and host of a USEF National Championship, the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™ (K3DE) CCI5*-L serves as one of the final selection trials for the U.S. Eventing Team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Many notable combinations vying for a spot on the team are competing in either the CCI5*-L or CCI4*-S as they set their sights on the summer ahead. US Equestrian chatted with U.S. Eventing Technical Advisor and Chef d'Equipe Bobby Costello to gain insight into how the K3DE fits into the selection process and what lies ahead for Paris hopefuls.

U.S. Eventing Technical Advisor and Chef d'Equipe Bobby Costello
(Shannon Brinkman Photo)

With three Olympic selection trials remaining (Kentucky, Badminton, Tryon), what are selectors looking for at these final events?

Bobby Costello: Selectors are looking for consistency of selection trial results during the Olympic Games Selection Trial window, which began at Kentucky 2023 and ends with Tryon 2024.

How does Kentucky fall into the Olympic preparation plans for combinations looking for a competitive run in the CCI5*-L versus the CCI4*-S to prepare for the summer?

BC: There may be a handful of horse/athlete combinations that perhaps successfully contested one or more selection trials last year, and the athletes make their own individual decision to use the 4* Short as what they deem to be the best preparation with Paris in mind.

In terms of performance, what are you hoping to see from the U.S. combinations competing at Kentucky?

BC: We are looking for continued results that will be competitive against the best in the world.

Once the selection trials conclude, what happens next in the selection process?

BC: The selectors will come up with a list of horses they would like to have examined closely by our veterinary panel. This list is not published. It is simply the next step on the road to making the Olympic team. Once these evaluations are completed, a full report on each individual horse will be presented to the selectors who will use information when selecting the team and alternates.

Once the team is selected, how will the Mandatory Outing and training camp in France help prime the combinations for Paris?

BC: The Mandatory Outing (at Stable View Horse Trials in June) will be used to show continued competitive form and soundness of the team combinations and alternates. The athletes and their horses will return to their home bases to train for approximately three more weeks before convening in Pennsylvania for a final mandatory gallop and vet evaluation before getting on the plane to France in mid-July. The five-to-six-day training camp in Vittel, France prior to the Games will give the team some quiet, stress-free time to put the finishing touches on their training before we enter the Olympic venue at Versailles on July 24.