This year, in the midst of the transition between Junior Weekend and the open week of showing, the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) will debut an entirely new $50,000 Arena Eventing class.
“There are very few shows elsewhere that do it,” said Elly VandeMerkt, Devon’s director of events. “We really wanted to incorporate something in Devon this year that was going to be new and exciting and innovative as well as tie in with Devon being a unique show already. We wanted to add a different aspect to it—to appeal to more riders, more spectators, and to continue our tradition of being the best.”
Limited to 40 entries, competitors must compete and receive a score in a CCI** or a recognized 1.40-meter show jumping class in order to qualify. The class is scheduled for Sunday, May 28, at 7 p.m., and Mark Phillips will design the courses. Competitors who jump a clean first round will advance to the jump-off.
“Obviously he’s a big name in the sport, and we’re thrilled to have him as course designer,” said VandeMerkt. “He’s also been helping us with some other parts of it as well—acting as a consultant in addition to a course designer.”
With a combination of show jumping fences and cross-country jumps from Fair Hill (Md.), the famous Dixon Oval and the Gold Ring will be linked together in the first round course, with riders galloping between the two and under the “Where Champions Meet” sign. Then the jump-off round will be limited to the Dixon Oval.
“The combination of show jumps and cross-country jumps, along with the excitement of jumping under the sign and into the ring—it’s going to build up the atmosphere even more,” said VandeMerkt.
Devon locals and Olympians Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton are involved in helping this class develop, and VandeMerkt hopes to bring the highest caliber of eventing riders.
“There’s a whole different world of competitors and supporters from the eventing community who haven’t necessarily had a big reason to tune in to Devon. And now that they do, I think that will keep them coming back,” said VandeMerkt.
While also airing on the Devon live stream, the show is selling VIP tables specifically for this event in addition to regular admission tickets. Individuals and companies will also have the opportunity to sponsor jumps for the occasion.