Olympic gold medallist and world number one Oliver Townend is in contention for eventing’s richest prize just three months before the Paris Games.

Townend’s victory at the Kentucky five-star event – his fourth in seven years – has kept him firmly on course for the Rolex Grand Slam.

It is awarded for consecutive wins in eventing’s three showpiece competitions – Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton – and Townend is two thirds of the way there after his Burghley success last year.

The 41-year-old Yorkshireman now heads to Badminton on May 9 with a £275,000 jackpot available if he can complete the clean sweep.


The feat is so rare that only two riders – Britain’s Pippa Funnell in 2003 and Germany’s double Olympic individual champion Michael Jung 13 years later – have accomplished it.

But Shropshire-based Townend, who was part of the gold medal-winning British team alongside Laura Collett and Tom McEwen in Tokyo, could now follow suit.

Townend challenged strongly for the Grand Slam in 2010 and 2018, and he said: “Obviously, it is a huge privilege to be in this position for the third time.”

His latest Kentucky triumph on Sunday came aboard Cooley Rosalent, heading British domination of an event that saw McEwen finish second and reigning world champion Yasmin Ingham third.

It underlined Britain’s enviable strength in depth ahead of Paris, with Collett and current European and Badminton champion Ros Canter not even among the Kentucky entries.

Ten of the world’s current top-ranked 15 riders are British, confirming a tag of red-hot favourites for team and potentially individual gold in Paris.