Why "Land Rover"?

When did the habit of calling the Kentucky 5* Event by the name of it’s main sponsor begin?

All the other 5* are named by their location.

(I’ve corrected the name)

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Because it was rolex?


I do not know. Maybe the contract between the title sponsor and the organizer specified that the name must be used in all the marketing and announcements, and so it “stuck” in general use.

I don’t know why ‘Kentucky’ is one of those words I consistently spelled incorrectly, pre-auto correct (I always wanted to put ‘key’ at the end). That being said, I’m pretty sure it’s Land Rover, two words. I thought you were asking why it’s referred to as one word now! :slight_smile:

The “Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials” is still called just Burghley. If it is the power of sponsorship contracts, Land Rover must be gnashing their teeth as so many still appear to call Kentucky “Rolex”.

Don’t worry, it was just a passing thought, late at night. No big thing.

I think you’re right…my habit is to say Rolex. Land Rover ‘feels’ like it takes too long to say, even though both it and Kentucky are three syllables. I’m going to try and wean myself off of Rolex, and try to say Kentucky.

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I’ve been told it’s disrespectful and rude to continue calling it Rolex by not recognizing the new sponsors.


Ummm, well some people can be very severe.

Continuing my theme, The NFL Superbowl isn’t called generally referred to as “The Budweiser” even if those ads are the best (I know they weren’t at the latest one). The Rugby World Cup is called just that, not by a single sponsor’s name. The French Open tennis tournament is also called Roland-Garros, after the stadium in which it played… can’t think of any more examples off the top of my head. But most sporting events at the elite level seem to refer to the sport or the location not the money or sponsorship. Probably I’m wrong. It is trivial, the result of not enough happening in Lockdown 3 to occupy my brain.

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Probably because Badminton and Burghley were both established by very rich people who named the events after their estates and likely provided most of the sponsorship in the early years. While Kentucky needed sponsorship much earlier in the event’s history and therefore didn’t really have a well-established name in the community before Rolex began sponsoring it.

Edited to add: Although I guess that doesn’t explain the others? The other thought is probably just that the US has a much stronger culture of selling naming rights to sports events/arenas/etc


I believe this is the best explanation. I was in college in Lexington at the time and the initial competitions (1978/1979 ish?) were, I think, called the Kentucky 3-day event. I was a volunteer one year and got a bag of swag and as best I can recall, there was no sponsor name on it (one of the things I got was a beverage tray that I kept and used for many years - I’m picturing it in my mind), but it was a long time ago, so…

Anyway, soon after, Rolex started sponsoring the event and without the weight of history behind the name, as with, e.g. Badminton & Burghley, it just became known as “Rolex,” even though, technically, the name of the event was “Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event.”


So, I’m not as old as a lot of you (late 20s) and I always knew it as “Rolex” and, well that habit is dying hard and my tendency with the sponsor change is to just refer to it as “LRK3DE” or “Land Rover” (feels like I say “Land Rover” and write “LRK3DE”) For me, at least, I think it’s that Lexington and Kentucky are both such horsey areas that just calling the event “Lexington” or “Kentucky” feels too vague. In my mind, “Badminton” and “Burghley” make sense (note: American who has never been to either event here) because, and if I don’t get this 100% right w/regards to what is held where, apologies as I’m writing off the top of my head, but I believe Badminton and possibly Burghley are both held on privately-owned estates and those are among the few events there. Yes, the KHP’s only (regular, obviously it’s held the WEGs) high-level eventing competition is LRK3DE, but there are enough other equestrian events there that to me, it’s just more specific to say, for example, “I’m going to Rolex/LRK3DE” vs “I’m going to Lexington/Kentucky.”

That is a good point. Badminton (home also of badminton, the game played with shuttlecock and racquet) and Burghley are indeed large private estates. The 5* are also two of the largest sporting events in the UK, by numbers of public attending. However, Adelaide is in a public park, Pau is a racecourse and Lehmuhlin is a training centre running other competions.

Personally, when I see “LRK3DE” I have to take a bit of time to decipher it: doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.

For a very trivial question, this thread has legs.

It’s probably because big sponsors contractually oblige the event to be named “the (sponsor name) (location) (event type)” so that they can get their money’s worth from all media formats advertising or mentioning the event. It’s why they sponsor, after all.

And because were lazy we shorten it. And because Rolex sponsored the event for 35 years it got to be a habit.


Sponsors do want their money’s worth. I’m certain there are all manner of legal obligations and requirements about position of the sponsors name and I’ve even been at an event where Fence Judges with Land Rover vehicles were placed at certain photogenic fences but… Rolex still sponsors loads of equestrian competitions, in many disciplines, around the world, but, as far as I know, only the Kentucky 3DE became known solely by the sponsors name. That is what I was idly curious about.

I agree that people persist in calling it Rolex just through habit. Though that can not help the organisers!

Mitsubishi sponsored Badminton for more than 35 years but in the public imagination the sponsors name stuck on the winners trophy more than on the event itself. Everyone knew, however, that Mitsubishi were the sponsors. It was a very sucessful relationship and when it ended a couple of years ago it was the longest sponsorship in any UK sport. Mitsubishi have subsequently withdrawn from the UK market.

I still call it “Rolex”. Even when my brain instructs my mouth to say “Land Rover”, my vocal cords just say “Rolex” with impunity. And my vocal cords have let it be known they aren’t changing this in my lifetime…

I would guess this is because in the common vernacular there can only be one “Rolex horse event”? If we started calling them all Rolex it would make no sense at all.


But given that Rolex no longer sponsor the “Rolex horse event” then calling it Rolex is meaningless. And if you call it “Land Rover” it also fails to differentiate between the many other events sponsored by the firm around the world.

I think my original question - how come Rolex is the only 5* identified solely by the sponsors name - has possibly been answered by the suggestion that “Rolex” is just easier to say than “Kentucky Three Day Event”. Why people persist in calling it Rolex when Land Rover stump up large $$$ to support it is probably just ingrained habit.

Yes, it is ingrained habit, and I think that is the simple answer to your question 🤷


Good point - what’s interesting is I feel like I don’t and maybe most people (in the US, anyway) who mainly follow eventing don’t hear as much about Adelaide, Pau or Luhmuehlen outside of the major three-day events held there.

Wonder too, if calling it Rolex/Land Rover vs just “Kentucky” or “Lexington” could shake out as a bit of a geographic thing? Like, I live relatively close to Kentucky (Indiana, roughly 2-2 1/2 hours depending on traffic from both Louisville and Lexington) so it’s not a huge undertaking for me, currently, to just pop down there for a day if I feel like it and so I know more of what’s at the KHP and horse scene there, generally, to not just associate it with the big 3 day event. Whereas people from further out (as spectators moreso than competitors) maybe only really get there for Land Rover so…I dunno, just a random thought I had.

I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Land Rover discontinues sponsorship because people can’t be bothered to acknowledge their very substantial contribution to the KY event by referring to it by the correct name. After all, they aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their heart, they want recognition of their product and they deserve it for what they are spending. Nothing against Rolex, I own two of their watches, but they withdrew a good deal of their support (they continue to support on a lesser level) so why do people continue to refer to the event by that incorrect name? And how hard is it for eventers and fans to call it by the correct name?

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