The 163rd Upperville Colt and Horse Show will retain all of its old school charm this year, but it’ll boast a new draw for riders. The show, scheduled for June 6-12 in Upperville, Va., has now been designated a Fédération Equestre Internationale CSI****.
Upperville’s feature event, the Upperville Jumper Classic, will now boast $216,000 in prize money. The show will also offer a $35,000 speed class and a $40,000 welcome stakes.
Show manager Tommy Lee Jones said Mike Smith, chairman of Upperville’s board of directors, was the driving force behind the changes this year. The last time Upperville hosted FEI classes was in 2005 when the show was designated a CSI***.
“The new board thought it was very important that Upperville take the next step up,” he said. “We’ve been on a six-year refurbishing campaign to get our grounds to what would be a world-class level. They thought it was the time to apply for an FEI rating.”
Jones said the board is hoping the new FEI classes will bring more top riders to the show, but he admits that with this being an Olympic year, riders might opt to travel to Europe instead.
“Unfortunately in our sport the top riders feel like they have to go to Europe to be able to compete with the rest of the world when they go to the Olympics,” he said. “Hopefully in the future we can get our horse shows in general to a higher level, so our competitors won’t have to make that trip to Europe to be with the same sort of competition. It would be great if they could all stay home. It would help all the horse shows.
“When you go FEI, there’s always the risk that you won’t have as many horses as you had in last year’s grand prix, but you have to go start somewhere to build it, and we’re trying to build something at Upperville. Hopefully we can,” he added.