DEVON, Pa.—The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, May 24 – June 4, is adding an exciting and very different type of new competition to its schedule, an Arena Eventing class.
Modeled after eventing, but without the dressage and show jumping phases, this new competition is scheduled for the first Sunday evening, May 28, and offers $50,000 in prize money.
With that amount of prize money, Devon’s Eventing class is one of that discipline’s most lucrative competitions and as such is expected to draw many of the sport’s top riders.
Only Rolex Kentucky, with $400,000 in prize money and Wellington Eventing, with $100,000, offer more money for one event.
Devon has limited the Event to 40 entries, but it is open to both eventers and show jumpers, and at least one show jumping rider, Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, Pa., has already committed to competing.
Olympic veterans Phillip Dutton of West Grove, Pa., and Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Pa., were both consulted as the concept of the class was developed.
“It’s a fantastic way of bringing a form of our event to the public,” said Martin. “This will be a real spectacle, exciting and action packed.”
Devon’s Eventing competition will introduce the sport to an entirely new set of spectators.
BOTH CROSS country jumps, brought in from Fair Hill, and show jumping fences will be set up in the Gold Ring and the Dixon Oval.
Captain Mark Phillips is the course designer.
To qualify to compete in the class, riders must have attained a qualifying score at a CCI2* competition or compete in show jumping at the 1.40-meter level.
The course will run across 1,000 meters through both the Gold Ring and Dixon Oval and will feature about 25 jumps in all, with 15 of them cross country fences and the rest show jumps.
All jumps will be set at a maximum height of 1.20 meters or 1.40 meters for brush fences, with a maximum top spread of 1.60 meters.
Seconds will be added for a knock down and for exceeding the time allowed, which will be calculated at 450 meters per minute.
All riders with no penalties in the first round will go on to a jump off, which will run over a shortened course in the Dixon Oval, and the fastest time in the jump off will win.
The first idea for the competition came from Beth Clark, who competes in show jumping and trains with Kevin Babington.
“The idea came from trying to figure out a way to help eventing be a more popular sport,” said Clark. “I grew up in South Hamilton, Mass., and my parents hosted the eventing team and Jack Le Goff on our property for many years. It’s a great sport, and I’d like to see something help the eventing world.”
“The minute it was suggested I thought it was a fabulous idea,” said Devon Chairman and CEO Wayne Grafton. “We’re trying to be responsive not only to the riders, but also to the sponsors and spectators as far as what they find exciting and want to see at Devon.”
“Mark Phillips came up to look at the rings, and he said Devon is a brilliant place to host a class like this because you have so much space,” Clark said. “Devon cleared the whole evening for us, and the class will also be live streamed. We hope to reach a new group of fans for the sport.”
‘We wanted to start with $50,000 like Wellington did to get people’s attention and hold a first-class event,” Clark said.
“We hope this will be a permanent class at Devon, and we also hope to grow it in terms of prize money,” said Grafton. “I think it’s a good match for the sport and for Devon, and I hope the competitors are excited and come enjoy it.”