Great Meadow Prepares for Nations Cup

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Robert Banner, president of the Great Meadow Foundation. | Photo by Jai Williams.

“We are very proud to be able to bring three-day eventing to Great Meadow. It is probably the most difficult of any of the equestrian sports, since it involves all three disciplines,” said Robert Banner, president of the Great Meadow Foundation, which operates the famous field events center and steeplechase course in The Plains, Virginia.

On April 3, Banner announced that, in connection with building a new arena, the foundation will bring back three-day eventing to Great Meadow.

Three-day eventing is the sport of horse trials. It presents the ultimate challenge of horsemanship because it requires horse and rider to perform three totally different activities within the same competition: dressage, cross country and show jumping.

Construction of the new arena will start July 1, so that it can be ready for Nations Cup 2016, should Great Meadow’s bid be selected. A new acquisition of land has provided 174 acres dedi-cated to this type of competition. The new, world-class arena will be 300 feet by 250 feet, with a warm-up arena 400 feet by 70 feet. It will have an all-weather surface or footing, which will pre-vent competitions from being canceled due to rain.

Great Meadow’s new international-level venue will host top horses and riders from around the world. At the Olympics in London, the U.S. team failed to medal at all, their worst performance since 1956. This venue will raise the bar by bringing the nations that won to the U.S., so that the team can train and face the competition at home. This is expected to help the U.S. reclaim its rightful position on the international medals podium.

The new competition will be called the Land Rover Great Meadow International and feature the Nation’s Cup format annually. There are plans to live-stream coverage on the internet this year. Next year, the plans are to broadcast the competition on NBC Sports.

A big spectator-based event, FEI Nations Cup is organized by Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), the international governing body for all Olympic equestrian disciplines. It is the most prestigious competition series for national teams in the world.

”The Nations Cup has been going on for a long time for show jumping, but we have never had one for three-day eventing,” said Banner, former publisher of the Chronicle of the Horse.

Banner and the Great Meadow Foundation expect the new facility and level of competition will draw numbers similar to those for the Virginia Gold Cup races and other major events at Great Meadow.

Great Meadow will host a Concours International Combiné (CIC) 3 Event, which means the competitors do their dressage on Friday night. The show jumping takes place on Saturday night, and they run over a shortened version of the cross country course on Sunday morning. There are VIP dining and entertainment options throughout the weekend. CIC competitors are required to qualify for the same level of CCI competition, therefore the horse/rider combinations in the CIC tend to be slightly less experienced than in the CCI.

Course designer Mike Etherington-Smith, chief executive of British Eventing, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, has already completed renderings and layouts. The groundbreaking ceremonies and pep trials will be held June 19 to 21.

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