Spectators for the show jumping Nations Cup at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fla., are in for a special multi-discipline treat this March.
The Professional Riders Organization Derby Cross Team Competition, an event designed to showcase some of the nation’s top eventing, show jumping and polo talent, will debut at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on March 5 at 5:30 p.m.
Originally founded in 2006 to promote eventing, the inaugural derby cross took place at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., in July 2006. PRO Derby Cross aims to bring an element of interactive entertainment for the audience.
“For spectators, any good athletic contest is a bit like watching a play or concert,” said Samantha Lendl, executive director of PRO. “There are moments of high competition, when spectators and participants are all keyed up, and lighter amusing moments that allow spectators to relax a bit and get involved.”
PRO Derby Cross Team Competition will host five teams made up of three event riders, one show jumper and one polo player. The teams will ride a course designed by U.S. Equestrian Federation President and Olympic eventing gold medalist David O’Connor. His timed course will test riders’ abilities over cross-country obstacles as well as show jumps.
“The team aspect is really great,” said PRO member Allison Springer. “We’re thrilled to have such talented show jumper riders on board, and their participation helps to create a better equestrian community.”
Springer, along with Phillip Dutton, Buck Davidson, Karen O’Connor and Kyle Carter, will act as team captains. They’ll be joined by eventers Bruce Davidson, Marcia Kulak, Will Faudree, Sinead Halpin, Rebecca Howard, Will Coleman, Jessica Phoenix, Hannah Sue Burnett, Jennie Brannigan and Clark Montgomery. Show jumpers Laura Kraut, Aaron Vale, Katie Prudent and Georgina Bloomberg have already signed up, and participating polo players will be announced soon.
Springer says there’s a level of friendly competition, but everyone will be looking to come out on top.
“We’re all very competitive, but we’re happy to see our peers do well,” she said. “But Katie Prudent—that girl’s a winner. I’m sure she’s going to do all she can to help her team win.”