Devon, PA - The Open Jumper classes at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair are always exciting and draw the largest and most enthusiastic crowds, but this year’s competitions may be better than ever.
Five medal winning Olympic veterans plus two Pan American Games medalists will be at Devon to try to wrest the Leading Rider title from Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, N.J., who has won it for four of the six past years. Chapot, last year’s Leading Open Jumper Rider, and one of her mounts, Bradberry, the 2010 open Jumper Champion, will return to Devon to defend their honors, but they’ll have plenty of top notch competition to contend with.
McLain Ward of Bedford, N.Y., who was Devon Leading Open Jumper rider in 2009, is a team gold medalist from both the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Games in Hong Kong. Ward, who has won the Grand Prix in four of the last seven years, will be competing in Open Jumper classes and the $100,000 Devon Grand Prix on Rothchild and Pjotter. Rothchild is one of the horses Ward rode on Nations Cup teams for the United States, contributing to the USET’s second place finish to France in the Meydan FEI series.
Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., a two-time team gold medalist and a team mate of Ward in Athens and Hong Kong, will also compete at Devon this year. Peter Leone of Greenwich, Conn., a team silver medalist from the 1996 Atlanta, Ga., Olympics and the winner last year of the Devon Grand Prix on Select, is entered at Devon again this year, as is Norman Dello Joio of Bedford, N.Y., the individual bronze medalist from the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Anne Kursinski of Frenchtown, N.J., team silver medalist in Seoul in 1988 and in Atlanta, is competing at Devon this year.
But those Olympians aren’t the only top international competitors who will be vying for honors in the Dixon Oval. Also competing at Devon are Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, Pa., who has ridden in the Olympics and in World Championships for his home country, Ireland, and Todd Minikus, a teammate of Chapot in the 2007 Pan American Games, where they won the team silver medal.
Junior jumpers compete Friday, May 27, in the morning and evening, and Saturday evening, May 28, with Pony Jumpers on Sunday, May 29, afternoon and evening. Adult Jumpers are scheduled for Memorial Day as the last class in the afternoon and the first class of the evening, with 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-Year Old Jumpers competing Tuesday and Wednesday. Amateur Owner Jumpers are in the Dixon Oval Friday morning and afternoon, with their final class the last class of the afternoon on Saturday, June 4.
Devon opens with Junior Weekend, May 26 to 28, with the Carriage Pleasure Drive opening eight days of adult competition on Sunday, May 29. Hunters compete Monday through Wednesday, with Breeding classes Thursday and amateur owner hunters and jumpers on the final Friday and Saturday. The USHJA International Hunter Derby, with two rounds, begins on Sunday, June 5 at 10 a.m.
Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy, who won the Derby last year, will be back to defend their title against a large field of top junior, amateur and professional riders and horses.
The Country Fair offers boutiques and rides and delicious foods for every palate, plus there are contests for hats, dresses and dogs, plus special back barn tours, so there are special events for each member of the family. At the Country Fair, from the Ferris wheel high above the show grounds, from carousel horses and rides of all description to classic games, such as throwing a ball at a moving target to win a huge stuffed animal, there are rides and games for children of all ages.
Hot dogs and hamburgers are offered along with pizza, soft drinks and ice cream, while in the Garden Cafe, for lunch and dinner, there’s a different selection of gourmet foods, including fine wines, that can be enjoyed in comfort in the pavilion. Then, of course, there’s the famous Devon fudge and lemon sticks.
Boutiques offer a vast selection of goods from men’s and women’s sports wear, often appliquéd with a horse or dog design, shoes, beautiful gold and silver jewelry, fine paintings, prints and sculptures, souvenirs and collectibles as well as, of course, tack shops.
Devon benefits Bryn Mawr Hospital, to which it has donated almost $14 million.
Tickets will be available over the phone, 610-688-2554, or on the internet, www.devonhorseshow.org. General admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and seniors 65 and over. Reserved grandstand tickets are available ranging from $12 to $50 depending on the performance.
Photo Credit: Laura Chapot and last year's Open Jumper Champion Bradury, shown competing last year. Photo by James Leslie Parker.