Upperville Horse Show is a magnificent extravaganza situated in gorgeous rolling countryside with the hunter rings shaded by towering oak trees and the jumper side offering grand views of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the not-so-distant horizon. It occupies both sides of Route 50, and legend has it that, late at night, John Mosby and his Raiders can be heard galloping along the highway.

The hunter side is called “Upperville” with Saturday’s crowd-drawing agenda of leadline, sidesaddle, family class, Silver Foxes, Wall of Honor, etc. The jumpers are nicknamed Europe for the FEI lingo (meter-30, etc). Both sides offer festive atmosphere, vendors, and the scrumptious eye-candy of horses and ponies…

It reached crisis level on Thursday after the $30,000 Upperville National Grand Prix. Forty 40 horse and rider combinations tackled the first round course designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade, but only 10 made it clear to the jump-off.

Early in the tie-breaking round, Alison Robitaille and Flairvona, owned by The 500 Hats LLC, recorded the first double clear in 36.322 seconds to take the lead. It looked as if victory belonged to the hometown rider until Schuyler Riley and E2 Show Jumpers’ Iceman De Muze rocketed around the jump-off course for a fast, clear round that stopped the clock at 35.184 seconds, relegating Robitaille and Flairvona to second place.

In Upperville’s Sunday finale, McLain Ward showed why he’s one of the USA’s top jumper riders and veteran Olympic medalist (two team golds and a team silver). Ward and Contagious, owned by Beechwood Stables, proved the best of in the 13-horse jump-off (out of 34 starters) to garner first place in the $208,200 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI4*, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds.

Ward showed often at Upperville from his junior years onward and had three Jumper Classics wins to his credit before scoring this fourth one with Contagious. It came after a long hiatus. He had returned last year, attracted by Upperville’s state-of-the-art footing and big prize money, and placed well in the Speed Stakes and the Classic. This year, Ward won both classes, notching an unbeatable round in Saturday’s $35,700 Upperville Speed Stakes CSI4* with Noche de Ronda over 22 combinations, followed by Sunday’s victory aboard Contagious.

Tons of information and photos capture the action at Upperville.com with results at horseshowsonline.com and don’t forget www.PhelpsSports.com for news and more photos. Non-competing enthusiasts can sign up at USEF.org for a fan membership: $25 per year grants full access to the Learning Center’s video lessons, USEF Network (Live broadcasts and On-demand archives), US Equestrian Magazine, Equestrian Weekly newsletter and much more.

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