Competition Amps Up at Washington in Year Two of Longines FEI World Cup North American League

Harrie Smolders & Emerald. Ph. ©Shawn McMillen Photography
Harrie Smolders & Emerald. Ph. ©Shawn McMillen Photography
Harrie Smolders & Emerald. Ph. ©Shawn McMillen Photography

The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) hosts its 58th annual competition in the U.S. capital of Washington D.C. this fall with more prize money and FEI world ranking points than ever before. Thanks to its selection in 2015 to join the inaugural Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping North American League, WIHS has united with some of the top competitions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico to host qualifying events for the yearly international championship. Those events include seven East Coast and seven West Coast venues throughout North America.

Each qualifying event earns riders important ranking points leading up to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals every season. In March of 2017, the coveted show jumping and dressage finals will be held for the first time in Omaha, Nebraska. The Washington International Horse Show, held October 25-30, 2016, will be sixth in this year’s series of 14 events on the road to Omaha.

In order to make advancements in the sport of show jumping in North America, the league chose its host events carefully. WIHS was honored to be welcomed into such impressive company, and looks forward to hosting its second event during this year’s competition.

The Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Washington CSI4*-W, presented by Events DC, will be the feature event of the week at WIHS on Saturday evening, October 29. The grand prix competition will offer increased prize money of $130,000 this year, along with more FEI world ranking points, making it a major contributor to the league. The grand prix also awards the show’s most prestigious prize, the President of the United States Perpetual Cup, a trophy given to the show in 1961 by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

WIHS draws an impressive roster of international show jumping competitors each year and has seen many well-known Olympians put their name on the President’s Cup Trophy in the past. Competing at this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Great Britain’s Nick Skelton won the 2016 Individual Show Jumping Gold Medal with talented mount Big Star. In 2011, Skelton was the winner of the President’s Cup Grand Prix at WIHS aboard Carlo 273, who also jumped at the Games in Rio under Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya.

Kent Farrington and McLain Ward were a part of the U.S. Show Jumping Team that won the silver medal in team competition in Rio and Farrington finished fifth overall individually. In 2014, Ward and HH Carlos Z won the WIHS President’s Cup Grand Prix. That was Ward’s fourth time topping the coveted competition after winning with Goldika 559 in 2004 and twice with his superstar mount, Sapphire, in 2008 and 2010.

In 2013, Farrington and Blue Angel took the WIHS event, and in 2012, a young Reed Kessler (USA) was the winner hot off her appearance in the London Olympic Games with her great mare Cylana.

In 2015, Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands was the winner of the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Washington CSI4*-W, presented by Events DC, aboard Emerald. That was Smolders’ second trip to Washington and his second win of the President’s Cup. Smolders also represented The Netherlands with winning WIHS mount Emerald in Rio.

In 2016, international course designer Alan Wade of Tipperary, Ireland, will design the world-class tracks for WIHS. In addition to the grand prix, a full schedule of international show jumping will be featured, including Thursday night’s entertaining costume class. Held as a $35,000 Accumulator Top Score competition, the class offers riders the opportunity to gain more FEI world ranking points, as well as a new Best Costume Award, presented by Equestrian Sport Productions. Other exciting international competition includes a $35,000 Welcome Stake, a $50,000 Speed Final, and a $25,000 International Jumper Puissance, presented by The Boeing Company.

Prize money will top half a million dollars this year including special cash bonuses for leading riders. WIHS will award $10,000 to the Leading International Jumper Rider, as well as a $10,000 bonus and the Juliet Weber Reid Trophy, presented by Sleepy P Ranch, which goes to the Leading International Jumper Rider 25 years of age or under. The WIHS Young Jumper Championship Incentive Bonus Program, which encourages investment in developing young horses, will also return with up to $20,000 at play, thanks to SHF Enterprises.

“A special inaugural award will be presented in honor of legendary horseman George Morris”

A special inaugural award will be presented in honor of legendary horseman George Morris, who will be one of the judges in the WIHS Equitation Finals this year. Morris served as Chef d’Equipe of the U.S. Show Jumping Team for eight years and shared his expertise with the Brazilian Team at the Olympic Games in Rio this year. The George H. Morris Style of Riding Award will recognize an International Jumper Rider who best exemplifies the American style of equitation and jumping and the respectful, dignified, and workmanlike manner of a true sportsman.

Along with its place in the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping North American League, WIHS remains one of the North American Riders Group’s (NARG) Top 25 events in North America. A consistent presence in the NARG Top 25 since the report was created in 2012, WIHS is the seventh ranked horse show in North America, moving up an impressive seven places from last year. WIHS puts forth every effort to improve its event each year and strives to provide exciting and innovative entertainment through the sport.

One of the most recognized equestrian events in the world, featuring great time-honored tradition and a unique metropolitan location, WIHS hosts 500 horses and riders from all over the globe each season. Competitors and spectators alike enjoy the historic sights and great shopping and dining of the city in between top hunter, jumper, and equitation competition. Many exhibitors compete all year just to qualify to attend the impressive venue at Verizon Center in downtown Washington D.C.

As one of the few events hosted in an urban setting, WIHS offers a special atmosphere for the Longines FEI World CupTM competition and is able to draw on the fantastic community support and loyal fan base that it has cultivated over the years. A goal of WIHS organizers every season is to appeal to a larger fan base and bring new spectators to the sport, and the addition of World Cup™ qualifying competition, as well as increased prize money, continues to draw more international competitors and fans alike.

Along with exciting competition, WIHS has a great commitment to community support. Thursday night at WIHS is Barn Night, which features the Buck Breast Cancer Benefit in support of local charity Capital Breast Care Center of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Friday night of the show hosts WIHS Military Night, which includes the Armed Forces Reception, and recognition and support for longstanding Official Military Charity Partner, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Saturday night features the President’s Cup Party, which benefits the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation. The USET Foundation supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America’s elite and developing International High Performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation.

Other events created to engage the local community include Kids’ Day, sponsored by Animal Planet and EQUUS Foundation, and Breakfast with the Mounted Police. Both events are free, fun, family-friendly activities that share the joy of horses with the local D.C. community and teach kids and their families about horses and equestrian sport.