The inaugural Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Eventing competition drew hundreds to northwest Marion County, and a full roster of of 116 competitors in three divisions including a CIC 3*. Held over the Thanksgiving weekend the new event, which was live streaming, offered over $100,000 in prize money the most ever awarded to an eventing competition below the CCI**** Level. Equiventures CEO Richard Trayford, who runs four horse trials at the Ocala Horse Park each year, helped bring the new FEI-level competition to fruition, along with event director Alec Lochore, course designer Mike Etherington-Smith, and Ocala Jockey Club owners Erik and Pavla Nygaard.
It was difficult to fathom this was the first event held on the rolling hills of Marion County, with an established world class course leading the way for the proposed Four Star competition slated for 2017. Dispelling the concept that Florida is flat there’s a belt of land that stretches from Micanopy through Reddick called The Ridge, and it’s hilly and full of good quality soil, the perfect terrain for eventing.
1000 acres of land owned by Erik and Pavla Nygaard top Thoroughbred race horse owners and breeders, put up the $100,000 in prize money and plan to set aside some of it to be awarded to top Thoroughbred competitors.
The energy throughout the weekend was exciting, positive and inviting. Spectators roamed the course, ample volunteers directed traffic and managed cross ways, and vantage points across the terrain allowed a viewing point of at least 6 jump combinations at any time.
The gorgeous clubhouse was the center of activity featuring VIP amenities. The 180 degree deck overlooking the pool, cross country course, stadium arena and vendor locations provides the centerpiece for future events.
The Ocala region continues to grow in equine activity and population with the growth of venues like th Ocala Jockey Club whose vision is to be “an active and acclaimed destination resort and club for those who love horses, unique events and Florida.”