Year Six: Announcing The NARG Top 25 Horse Shows in North America
The NARG Board continues to have its sights clearly focused on the improvement of the sport of show jumping on our continent. To attain this goal, NARG instituted its Top 25 initiative in 2010. This evaluation process, now in its sixth year, has been a positive influence on the sport, by changing perspectives, fostering discussion and essentially putting the spotlight on top horse shows in North America.
During the first year of evaluations, we found that even our continent’s best events were lacking in one way or another. The North American FEI World Cup™ Qualifiers were often only CSI2* events with poor prize money and minimal World Ranking offerings. The only CSI5* classes in all of North America were three weeks at Spruce Meadows and one week at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Only Spruce Masters offered prize money over $500,000.
A System Change
It became clear that the 1-5 scale wasn’t broad enough to delineate an event’s strength or weakness, so the 2015 shows were evaluated on a 1-10 scale, making it a bit more difficult to achieve a perfect score.
Canada Claims Top
Thunderbird held firmly onto their second spot. As the highest placing indoor event with a great crowd, Royal Winter Fair jumped up to claim the third spot on the list.
The top two shows on American soil sit fourth and fifth. Both shows were new to the list in 2015, and both have a European flair: the Longines Masters of Los Angeles with its second Masters Grand Slam event, and this continent’s first Global Champions Tour, GCT Miami. One new American show with a European feel also made the top 25 this year, the Split Rock Jumping Tour.
With one of the world’s best grass fields, Mexico’s Xalapa maintained its sixth position for the second year in a row. And the beautiful Otomi event was tied for twenty-fifth.
The brand-new Longines FEI North American Jumping League chose fourteen venues, seven on each coast, to present events with 2015/2106 Longines FEI World Ranking classes and World Cup™ Qualifiers. With only one event remaining, Live Oak International later this week, NARG commends all the managers who stepped up to participate in this venture and is confident all of the 2016 events, such as the intimate and beautiful Valle de Bravo and the inaugural Wellington Masters, would have made the list.
NARG is proud to note that all but three in this year’s NARG Top 25 were FEI-sanctioned events, and each of those three, Devon, Upperville and Old Salem Spring, will now be FEI events in 2016. It is also notable that in 2016 the North American show schedule will include seventeen CSI5* events. Plus there are now six shows in the Top 25 with $500,000 or more in prize money.