As we enter the final weeks prior to the World Equestrian Games, the U.S. Team for Eventing only has one final hurdle in their way: the mandatory preparatory trial at Great Meadow. This event has been created and prepared solely with the U.S. Eventing Team in mind, as a final outing to sharpen and fine tune all of the horses and riders before they fly to Normandy, France.
While the final outing is usually incorporated into a pre-scheduled USEA competition, this event is two days of pure top class action, with only the best pairs from North America competing. Not only that, but it has been designed to be incredibly spectator friendly, and encourages Eventing enthusiasts of all ages to come and support Team USA as they endeavor to bring home the spoils from France.
Just two weeks away, on July 26th and 27th, the Great Meadow Foundation will host this significant competition on their beautiful property in the heart of Eventing wonderland, in The Plains, Virginia.
The competitors will be comprised of the entire Team USA WEG list, including alternates, as well as Canadians Selena O’Hanlon on her two team horses, and Jessica Phoenix on her pair of team horses. While this does mean that the entry list is only seventeen deep, do not despair, as there will be plenty to do and see for your weekend of top level entertainment.
On Saturday, the dressage commences at 8 o’clock in the morning, and the competitors will be practicing the CCI4* test B that they will be required to do in Normandy. As many of us only get to see a four-star test on our computers as we avidly watch FEI TV for Rolex, this is an exciting opportunity to see the best riders in our country strutting their stuff in person.
At noon on the same day, Jimmy Wofford will be hosting a course walk, open to the public. This will be the first time that anybody has ridden over this challenging course, designed by David O’Connor and built by the master of Rolex himself, Aaron Rust.
While the course will be at Advanced height and difficulty, it will be less than six minutes in length, and will be run at 570 meters per minute, so will be less taxing than the usual cross country effort for this level. That being said, it is designed to test the technical skills of both horses and riders, while still serving as a good confidence boosting run before they face the final challenge in France.
Saturday night, Great Meadow is the place to be, with many exciting aspects to schedule. At 5pm, there will be a cocktail reception followed by a dinner in the VIP tent near the stadium course. All ticket sales will go directly to funding the USET, and towards getting our horses and riders to the WEG.
At 7pm, Show Jumping will begin, under the lights in the main arena where many of you have enjoyed twilight polo. The show jumping course, designed by Richard Jeffries, will be 1.30 meters in height, but once again, is created to test their abilities and tune their skills.
Not only will there be cocktails, dinner, and show jumping, but both Chef d’Equipe David O’Connor and Jimmy Wofford will be giving very important speeches on the future of US Eventing following the conclusion of show jumping. After that will be a very exciting bareback puissance (sign up HERE to win a $500 prize!), followed by a night of music, dancing and fun for everyone!
On Sunday morning, the wonderful combination of brunch and cross country will coincide, making that one of your top priority places to be for the day. Tailgating is encouraged! Cross country will only last a little over an hour, so be sure to show up at 9am sharp for the beginning.
So how do you get tickets to this awesome event? Simple! You go to Great Meadow Foundation and order your tickets by the car-load. It is $30 for one day, and $50 for a two-day pass, and you can bring your largest car with as many friends as you can cram inside.
This event will be short and sweet, but a super opportunity to see our team before they head across the ocean to take on the rest of the world at the World Equestrian Games.