Lexington, VA - The state of Virginia is home to some of the nation's longest standing and most historic hunter horse shows. And now the Virginia Hunter Championships offer an added incentive for riders and trainers competing at these notable shows within the commonwealth. The inaugural Virginia Hunter Championships, presented by Markel, will be held at the Virginia Horse Center on Tuesday, August 4.
The one-day show will give out more than $60,000 in prize money to exhibitors who have been competing in Virginia throughout the year. "There are so many horse shows in Virginia that are sort of 'stand alones,'" explained Chris Wynne, one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Virginia Hunter Championships. "A farm has one or two shows, like Rosemount Farm, or an organization has one or two like an Upperville or a Keswick. We're trying to help those horse shows and get people to stay at home and show in Virginia at their home horse shows."
The Virginia Hunter Championships on August 4 will offer a $15,000 Professional Hunter Classic, a $10,000 Pre-Green Hunter Classic, a $10,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic, a $10,000 Children's Hunter Classic, a $10,000 Adult Amateur Hunter Classic and a $5,000 Pony/Children's Pony Classic. In order to be a part of the classics at the Virginia Hunter Championships, horses had to qualify by showing at Virginia horse shows throughout the year.
Horses wishing to compete for the professional classic must have shown in at least four of the qualifying shows, while those qualifying for all other classics must have shown in at least six. Listed qualifying shows included:
The Barracks December "A" (12/11-14)* Lexington Spring Encore "AA"(4/29-5/3)
The Barracks January I "A" (1/2-4)* James River Hunt "A" (5/8-10)
The Barracks January II "A" (1/8-11)* Keswick Horse Show "AA" (5/12-17)
Stonewall Country I "A" (1/15-18) Upperville Horse Show "AA"(6/1-7)
Stonewall Country II "A" (1/30-2/1) Loudoun Benefit Horse Show "AA"(6/10-14)
The Barracks February "A" (2/6-8)* Roanoke Valley Horse Show "AA" (6/16-20)
Hollins Spring Welcome "A" (2/26-3/1) Deep Run Horse Show "AA" (6/17-21)
The Barracks March "A" (3/6-8)* Warrenton Pony Show "A" (6/24-28)
Rosemount Farm "AA" (4/8-12) Rosemount Farm "A" (7/24-26)
Lexington Spring Premiere "AA" (4/22-26)
A-rated shows were given a value of 1.5 shows, and AA-rated shows a value of one show.
"We have a lot of good professionals that have qualified for it, and we've received great sponsorship support for our first year," Wynne said. "A number of individuals and Virginia families have been very nice to sponsor this as a way to show support and to keep the Virginia horse shows going. They've shown at Keswick or Warrenton or places like that and want to make sure that they keep going. Today it's difficult to keep these historic hunter horse shows alive and thriving if you don't have jumpers. We hope that this gives another avenue for that."
All of the entry money and money raised for the Virginia Hunter Championships is funneled directly back into the event, allowing for greater prize money, exhibitor parties and more. "Every dollar earned toward the event is put back into the event," Wynne said. "It's not a moneymaker. It's all for the exhibitors and the trainers that have supported the Virginia horse shows for the year." The Virginia Hunter Championships will immediately precede the Lexington National Horse Show, held August 5-9, 2015.
Click here to learn more about the Virginia Hunter Championships and the Lexington National Horse Show.