Upperville Colt & Horse Show, which turned 164 this year, is bigger and better than ever. The oldest show in the U.S. with its historic roots and traditions has been rejuvenated in the last few years. Major improvements to the Grafton and Salem Farm Showgrounds include state-of-the-art footing, new rings, new warm-up rings, and excellent amenities and hospitality for both exhibitors and spectators. Upperville is a unique experience with multiple rings, storied shopping, and food vendors, in one of the most spectacular settings.
In 2016, Upperville achieved recognition from the International Equestrian Federation for three of its jumper classes which are now rated FEI CSI 4* (Concourse de Saut International 4-star – maximum is 5). Offering big prize money and global points has made Upperville more attractive than ever as a show destination to jumper riders everywhere.
Another benefit of the FEI 4-star rating is the incentive it provides to Americans to forego Europe in order to stay home and show on the American circuit. This year, during the first week in June, a record number of horses and riders – hunters and jumpers – flocked to Upperville, which was already rated USEF “Premier/AA.”
“We really hit the mark we have been aiming for – I am humbled by the success of this year’s show,” said Michael Smith, Upperville President. “It was my hope to bring Upperville back to a top show in the United States, and there are so many involved that have made this possible. We had so many successes on both sides of the road. Breeding classes had more attendance this year. Hunters and jumpers had many more juniors this year since we moved their classes to the weekend, starting last year. There were more in the Hunter Derby than any other year. We brought back the original National Grand Prix on Thursday evening, which had 54 entries. The Young Jumper classes are becoming very popular as well as the Back From The Track Hack Thoroughbred classes. All in all, the FEI classes have not only brought back higher level riders on the jumper side, I think they have stepped up the hunters as well.”
The show went high tech with Live Stream, bringing hunter and jumper action to you in the comfort of your home or office, anywhere in the world, via an internet connection. You had your choice of live action in the main hunter ring and the main jumper ring or focus on one. Each ring had commentary and well-placed cameras. It was almost – almost – as good as being there, but there’s nothing like being ringside at Upperville.
On Sunday, June 11, the stage was set for the $216,000 FEI 4* Upperville Jumper Classic, presented by Michael and Wendy Smith, in the Jet Linx Aviation Jumper Ring 1. The winners were MTM Farm’s MTM Reve du Paradis and Tracy Fenney (Texas) in their first appearance at Upperville.
With experience gained from winning Thursday’s Speed Stakes and a 4th Friday’s Welcome Stakes (more on these in a moment), Fenney went into Sunday’s Jumper Classic ready to tackle the technical questions posed by Richard Jeffery, a renowned British designer of show jumping courses. Fenney and Reve went second in the 12-horse jump-off and scorched a clear round in 46.33 seconds. Everyone else tried but fell short, producing lots of 4- and 8-fault rounds. Paul O’Shea (IRL) and Skara Glen’s Presence finished second on 46.42. Third place (47.19) was claimed by Marilyn Little and Clearwater, owned by Karen O’Connor.
On Thursday, again in the Jet Linx jumper ring, Fenney and Reve du Paradis won the $35,000 FEI 4* Speed Stakes, clocking a clear round in 63.94. Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) was second on Lady Maria BH (64.79), followed by Andrew Ramsey (FL) and Stranger 30 on 65.50. The field of 43 starters produced 21 clear rounds with Fenney’s Igor van de Heibos and MTM Como No picking up four faults each.
A new Grand Prix debuted after the Speed Stakes. Actually, it was the old Upperville Jumper Classic, reborn last as a brand new FEI CSI4*, returning with a new name – the $30,000 Upperville National Grand Prix. It attracted a record total of 51 entries. Two late scratches resulted in a field of 49 combinations with 11 qualifying for the jump-off. An “all-Upperville” victory resulted when Allison Robitaille and Cassinja, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, powered clear and fast to first place in 39.485 (Time Allowed: 52).
Classified and Brooke Kemper (Culpeper, VA) scored a close second on 39.704 seconds, with Jimmy Torano (FL) and Sans Souci Z taking third on 40.465. Fourth went to Abigail McArdle and Chuck Berry 8, owned by Plain Bay Sales. McArdle earned individual gold and team silver show jumping medals at the 2012 NA Junior & Young Rider Championships while training for six years with Katie Prudent. In 2015, McArdle became the sales rider for Plain Bay Sales, owned by Adam Prudent, who grew up in Middleburg where his family spends time when they’re not in Wellington (FL).
On Friday, Fenney competed all three horses in the $40,000 FEI 4* Welcome Stakes, qualifying two for the 18-horse jump-off (TA: 52). She went clear with Igor in 42.3 to finish 4th, but four faults (one rail) with Como No put them in 14th, just out of the money. In the first round (42 horses), Reve du Paradis four-faulted, but he redeemed himself big-time on Sunday.
The Welcome Stakes winner was Jonathan McCrae (CT) on Special Lux (40.07), followed by Devin Ryan (NJ) and Cooper (40.73), with Ali Wolff (OH) and Quirie 2 (41.98) in third. Three locals placed in the top 10: Allison Robitaille and Serise du Bidou – 7th, Sloane Coles (The Plains) and Esprit – 9th, and Alexa Lowe Wiseman (Upperville) and Synapse de Blondel – 10th. Up-and-coming rider, Hayley Alcock, 19, who trains with her mother Daphne Alcock and Joe Fargis, finished 13th on Just A Jet, owned by Nicole Perry.
So much went on at Upperville, there isn’t enough room to begin to do it all justice. You can catch some of the action by visiting upperville.com – look for the red bar across the top of the homepage and click it to watch a replay of $216,000 FEI CSI4* Upperville Jumper Classic. While you’re there, scroll down and check out the various videos.
Upperville has it all: spectacular setting, great footing, prize money, some of the best riders in the world, and a wonderful community of enthusiasts determined to make sure that Upperville keeps getting better.
Note: US Equestrian, formerly USEF, offers a fan membership – for $25 a year, you get access to the Learning Center, USEF Network, and various member perks – including the USEF Network’s full schedule of national/international equestrian competitions, live and on demand.