Friday, 29 April 2011

Walmart & Rolex

Hello Lexington!

The odometer on my car ticked up to 200,000 kilometres as I drove to the airport for this trip to the US, my 5th or 6th trip in as many months, and I’m back again later this month, so my air miles odometer is racking up nicely too. The prospect of a move to the US for a few years still has me nervous, and also excited, but I doubt my travelling days will end, they’ll hopefully just slow down a little with a trip back to Europe every month or two. As I’m planning to be not a million miles from Lexington, I’m also chalking some of this trip up to research – well at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

For the first time Rolex presented me with an opportunity to visit this leg of the Grand Slam, not least because this year’s Badminton ran before Rolex. Having brought a few DVDs of the TV coverage with me to watch on the plane trips, Badminton is still fresh in my mind, so in amongst the cloud of thoughts from my business meetings whilst over here, I’m getting ‘pumped’ for Rolex - as the Americans would say!

Larry, my Lexington Cabbie, gave me an entertaining ride from the airport to the hotel, located just a few miles from the horse park, with tales of the Kentuckian traits, his views on why the WEG signs are still everywhere ("we'll do that tomorrow"), and gave me a big tip for my transportation needs. I booked a hotel near to the horse park as I wanted to hire a bike and cycle out to the horse park everyday. Larry suggested I just buy a bike from Walmart for $69, all round that sounds a cheaper and easier solution, plus someone gets lucky and gets a free bike when I leave.

There’s so much to look forward to for my first Rolex. A new course designer – has Derek Di Grazia experimented much? A live prospect of Mark Todd ticking off number 2 of a Grand Slam – or at least when I last looked at the scores at the end of day one, and reports on the state of the going (2nd glance at scores and it could prove tough, he's equal 17th after dressage).

I’m also curious to see any subtle differences between a UK 4* and Rolex, from tailgating here vs. lakeside parking at Blenheim, to the atmosphere in the permanent arena compared to the temporary grandstands we see back home. The list is endless and I have no idea where to begin. Not being here for dressage days has me at a huge disadvantage, they’re always the perfect excuse to walk the course or look around the tradestands, meet up with friends or press a few well chosen palms. The upside of not being here for those days is I don’t have to watch any of top hat action.

Everything I’ve ever seen reported about Rolex to date, indicates I’m in for a great weekend, I’m looking forward to soaking up every last drop of it, except for the rain, that's not forecast 'til Monday.

The crazy last minute meeting I had in Chicago this morning has got me ‘double pumped’, so with work out of the way, for the weekend at least -It’s Rolex time!

First stop Walmart!

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