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Kentucky Horse Park hosts 3 of America’s top-ranked horse shows

Shows ranked in Top 25 of 2012 report by North American Riders Group

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 8, 2013) — The North American Riders Group (NARG) has released its report of the Top 25 Horse Shows of 2012, its third annual report, and three of those shows are conducted at the Kentucky Horse Park each year — the Alltech National Horse Show, the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, and the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. The Kentucky Horse Park, once again, hosted more Top 25 shows on the list than any other facility in North America.

“We are proud that the Kentucky Horse Park facilities lend to the success of the three horse shows selected on the NARG Top 25 list,” said John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park. “To be counted among the best facilities on the continent, hosting the best shows in North America, truly validates the hard work of the many people who have served in leadership and support positions at the park over the past 35 years of our development.”

The North American Riders Group is an advocacy group, representing the riders, owners and trainers in North America that was formed with the goal of improving the sport of show jumping, and is composed of top horsemen from the United States, Canada and Mexico. In the report of the NARG Top 25 Horse Shows of 2012, the group stated, “This effort, albeit evolving, has created a mirror in which top equestrian events can reflect on what is important to us, how to improve and whether they truly seek to be a Top 25 event.  And this year is proof that those who aspire to be great are willing to look, listen and improve.”

The Alltech National Horse Show, which showed at the Kentucky Horse Park in October 2012 in just its second year in Kentucky, is second for any American horse show, and achieved an overall rating of fourth among all horse shows in North America on the NARG list.  Known as America’s oldest indoor horse show, the National Horse Show originally started in Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1883 and eventually moved to Lexington in 2011.

“With all the ingredients of a fabulous equestrian event, a perfect score is within reach for The Alltech National Horse Show,” the NARG report said. “First and foremost, the show has one of the sport’s top sponsors in its title.”

The report said the location in the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena gave the event “the ability to host a tremendous indoor affair within its walls — from show jumping to shopping to fine dining and fabulous parties.”

The report continued, “The prize money offered is the best of any indoor show in North America. Excellent footing and top course design mixed with a solid turnout of international competitors resulted in great sport.”

The Alltech National Horse Show awarded more than $600,000 in prize money in 2012.  The third edition of the Alltech Nationals will take place Oct. 29 through Nov. 3, 2013, in the Alltech Arena.

Horses graze outside the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Horses graze outside the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Earning an overall ranking of eight on the NARG report, up five spots from 2011, the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows is a series of hunter jumper shows conducted back-to-back for two weeks in May. The Kentucky Spring Horse Show and the Kentucky Spring Classic have been held at the park for more than 20 years, and utilize the park’s Rolex Stadium, Covered Arena, Hunter Jumper Complex and other facilities.

“The Kentucky Spring Shows continue to climb up in the ranks,” the report said. “Scoring just below 70 two years ago, improvements made last year earned a 74. Raising the bar in 2012 resulted in an 83 and the eighth spot.”  \The report explained that the show took on the responsibility of becoming an Olympic Observation Event and secured a higher competition rating, a CSI3*, which increased the show’s importance and expenses.

The report continued, “The effort to entertain as well as produce great sport did not go unnoticed. The evenings began with exhibitions and the course was beautifully designed with recognizable WEG (World Equestrian Games) jumps and also new custom-built jumps for this event. Other noticeable improvements included a conveniently located food facility by the Rolex Stadium in-gate and improved FEI (International Equestrian Federation) stabling with a large grazing area.”

The Kentucky Spring Horse Show will be May 8-12 and the Kentucky Spring Classic will be May 15-19. Produced by the same management group, the Kentucky Summer Horse Show will be conducted July 24-28 and the Kentucky Summer Classic will be conducted July 31 through Aug. 4.

With an overall ranking of 18 on the NARG report, the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) is a relatively new event the park was able to attract and accommodate because of the Alltech Arena and Rolex Stadium. Conducted at the park since 2009, NAJYRC is the highest level competition for qualified young riders in North America to compete in the FEI disciplines of Show Jumping, Dressage, Eventing and Reining in a challenging Nations Cup format.

“The Kentucky Horse Park sits on 1,200 acres, with multiple arenas, a world-class cross country course and fantastic footing. The best attribute of this championship event, and the main reason it earns a good score, is the world-class venue, specifically the Rolex Arena,” the report said “The courses are challenging and the jumps beautiful. Aside from some hot summer weather, it is a magnificent setting.”

The next Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships will be July 17-21 and will utilize the Alltech Arena, Rolex Stadium, Covered Arena, Hunter Jumper Complex, Walnut Ring and other facilities.

The North American Riders Group developed the Top 25 ranking system to establish a clear measure of excellence among North America’s horse shows so as to evaluate them fairly so that they could be considered world class.

A copy of the full Top 25 Horse Shows of 2012 report is available at www.NARG.org.