Kentucky Bound?: A reader-submitted Rolex survival kit

How do you do Rolex? Earlier this week, we asked readers to submit tips for navigating the weekend in comfort and style. Here are a few of their suggestions:

It is my experience that darn near anything you’ll need is available for purchase in the park, and none of it is cheap. Be sure to bring plastic in two forms: a refillable water bottle and a credit card.


1. hiking shoes for Saturday (flip flops to me, won’t cut it.
2. Snacks for Saturday (almonds, protein, whatever) – you’ll be on the other side of the course when you get hungry, and believe me, you won’t want to go back)
3. Sunglasses – I had a splitting headache without them, but I have sun sensitive eyes.
4. Something for riders to sign (I chose a white rolex hat and filled it) Riders, the designers, trainers, etc are all over the place all weekend, and I ‘bumped’ into them. awesome.
5. Dress in layers – I haven’t seen what the forecast looks like, but I’ve been there in 80 degrees and in 50, each time needing layers to peel throughout the day.
6. Carry around the ‘order of go’ – to learn who everyone is. You’ll want to know “who” when Sunday rolls around.
7. Put your camera down every once in a while and just hear the sound of the hooves, the crowd, and watch the amazing talent of athletes, both equine and human. :)
8. Have fun!


In the morning on Saturday we usually arrive an hour before the start to have enough time to park, walk, find a good spot etc and it fills up FAST trust me. I also suggest starting at the water, getting a good spot, watch a few horses and then move on to other jumps when you’ve filled your fancy. :) I also suggest comfy shoes, and a not too heavy backpack as there is a serious amount of walking/running. Final tips, try to be near a jump thats close to the grand-stand at the lunch break so you can get there before the crowds for the bathroom and food, and friday night, plan your route for the day. Which jumps you want to see and the most efficient way to see them, its the best way to make sure you see everything you want to, but you have to stick to your plan on the day of!! Finally, a must see is the start/finish area, even if your there just to see a horse or two start and finish, its a spectale not to be passed up. hope this helped :)


Hagyard used to give out free, cold bottled water in their tent on sponsor row. However, last year there was no water to be found in their tent (also no awesome clicky pens from Merial). For some reason I also remember snagging free water from one of the horse trailer places in the past, although I can’t definitively say it was at Rolex. The water from the water fountains is lukewarm at best and tastes pretty crummy. While on the subject of free stuff, don’t pass up your chance at a swanky Cosequin bucket at the Cosequin tent across from the Rolex stadium. They make the best wash buckets and they can even double as a chair out on cross country.

If you’re not into over-priced fair food and deep fried everything, consider packing your lunch. There’s a WalMart near the Horse Park (and a Kroger in nearby Georgetown) if you’d rather stock up on groceries when you get to Lexington. I don’t know what time they open, but there’s a great little deli/corner store on Ironworks and Russell Cave that sells sandwiches if you’d rather pick up something pre-made the morning of cross country.

Bring a backpack and consider bringing a small, lightweight folding chair for cross country. I’ve gotten there as late as after lunch and have still been able to see all the jumps, but expect to park in God’s country if you get there later. The Head of the Lake will be a zoo, but you can get a great view at most of the other jumps.

Check the weather and don’t think it’s ridiculous to pack a winter coat, a rain coat, sunscreen, and shorts. The saying here goes that if you don’t like the weather in KY, just wait a day.

Don’t wait ’til Sunday to do your shopping. I believed the rumor that Sunday always has great discounts, but other than the Rolex-wear shop, I’ve never found that to be the case. You’ll get the best selection and the same prices if you get it done on Thursday or Friday. There are deals to be had, special buy-one-get-one offers, and don’t be afraid to ask the vendors what deals they can offer you. Sometimes there’s no posted sign, but a vendor might be willing to cut you a deal or throw in something extra.


We always get there about an hour before first horse on on cross country day and find a good spot at the Head of the Lake since this is the most crowded jump for the rest of the day. We watch the first few horses go through and when we’ve had enough (which, who ever does get enough??) we head off to the finish and watch some of the horses coming in (my favorite part, I love watching the celebration and elation on everyone’s face) and try to snoop around the vet box before walking the course backwards from there. I like that when you walk it backwards you can see the horses coming. I try to hit every part of the course but somehow we always end up missing at least one or two jumps. This year I am determined not to let that happen!

We usually try to hit the food area a little early, but this year we may opt for bringing sandwiches! Tip: the Papa John’s truck usually is very cheap (considering the competition, that is) and you get a lot for your money! Friday we reserve for shopping – there usually seem to be less people there on Friday so we bought passes and plan on watching a few tests and then heading for the trade fair.

Also, go on a course walk!! This year, there are so many options I want to do all of them! Marilyn Little-Meredith and Doug Payne will be heading one, Jim Wofford, Buck Davidson, Boyd Martin and Allison Springer, and Ralph Hill I believe are all also doing walks. We plan to do the Wofford walk. Let’s see. I think that’s it! Oh! If you bring a dog, the Lexington Humane Society runs a daycare tent which we use on stadium day. It’s not perfect, but the dogs are cool and safe while we sit in the stands for stadium.


Have a tip to add? Leave it in the comments section below.

Go Riding, and Go Rolex!

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