There has come to be no better way to open the eventing season in what feels like an unofficial, official way than the annual Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field (Aiken, SC), happening March 1 and 2.
Designed to be a spectator-friendly pipe-opener for horses that are on the handier side (or, practice for those who could use some more of this!), Grand-Prix Eventing is a condensed event run over two days and consisting of a dressage, show jumping, cross country format. Cross country, designed by Capt. Mark Phillips, is an arenacross-type course, much removed from its long format predecessor but nonetheless an exciting “taster” of the thrill of the sport. In my opinion, this format is a natural way to invite newcomers to the sport of eventing — the fact that it takes place literally in the center of Aiken at Bruce’s Field is the icing on the “welcome to eventing” cake.
This year, the prize pot grows from an initial $50,000 to now be a $100,000 purse — in eventing, you don’t often see prize money like this outside of CCI5* events — thanks to the incoming title sponsor, Conceal. Taylor Harris Insurance Services also returns as presenting sponsor.
We won’t have a final roster of entries for a few weeks yet, but a few have begun to sprinkle in to the entry status here. The crew at Grand-Prix Eventing also tells me there will be some exciting visitors from overseas.
As of publication, the confirmed entries for this year’s GPE are:
- Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way + Pfun
- Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan
- Lillian Heard and Dassett Olympus + LCC Barnaby
Other tentatively committed riders include previous winners Boyd Martin and Liz Halliday, Sharon White, Emily Hamel, Doug Payne, Caroline Pamukcu, Jennie Brannigan, and more. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date with the latest entry confirmations, so stay tuned for more. Riders will also be riding for the benefit of local charities (to be named for 2024).
Tickets are still available for this not-to-be-missed event, so come on down March 1 and 2. You can purchase yours starting at just $30 for two-day admission by clicking here.