Footing First: MARS Great Meadow International Rolls Out Major Irrigation Upgrades

Photo courtesy of Great Meadow.

Held Aug. 22-25 in The Plains, Virginia, the completely revamped MARS Great Meadow International is right around the corner. With a new date and new levels, the GMI team has been hard at work to give spectators and competitors a world-class event, and excellent footing was at the top of their list.

Summer in Virginia is tough on footing — literally — but thanks to new, innovative irrigation practices, the ground at Great Meadow is unbeatable, even in Virginia, even in August. 

For starters, a huge chunk of the course is run on the steeplechase track, which is known among the racing community for its reliable footing. Beneath the 30 years of established turf is an intricate system of drainage tiles to ensure that the footing is pristine even in wet conditions. This section of the property is fully irrigated with massive water reels which act as giant sprinklers. 

From there, the track snakes into the newer section of the course, previously known as Fleming Farm. This area was completely renovated last fall, aerated and  planted with a heavy overseed blend of Bluegrass, turf fescues and perennial ryegrasses. Since planting, the land here has been managed with a very aggressive mowing program.

The newest addition to the land management line up is the SumiRain. Imported from Australia, SumiRain is an irrigation system that is designed to water a precise path without the installation of underground pipes. Each 50 meter perforated hose throws a steady, soaking spray 10 meters on either side, exactly the width of the gallop track. In addition to its accuracy, this system is eco-friendly, using only the amount of water needed with little to no waste. Great Meadow is the first venue in the country to utilize SumiRain irrigation hoses.

Interested competitors should move quickly, the closing date is next Tuesday, Aug. 6. Dressage will be held Thursday for the two- and three-star divisions, and Friday for the four-star riders. All divisions will show jump Saturday. The two-star division will run cross country Saturday afternoon, while the three- and four-star division’s cross country will be held Sunday.

EQSportsNet is the official live stream partner, and will provide wall-to-wall coverage of the CCI4*-S class, as well as the show jumping and cross country phases of the CCI3*-S.

General admission tickets are still available and can be purchased at this link. Spectators who bring donations, such as pet food and other needed shelter supplies, will receive free admission to the competition.

For those wanting access to the Patrons Marquee, hospitality packages include seating for Thursday morning dressage; a buffet lunch and hors d’oeuvre reception on Friday; breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday; and brunch on Sunday. Click here to view hospitality package options.

MARSGMI: Website, ScheduleEntries