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The Alltech National Horse Show, held for the first time in its 128 years in Lexington, has been declared an unqualified success by all involved . And the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park gets rave reviews from competitors from around the world.
Already, talk has turned to anticipation of next year’s show — the 129th — October 31- November 5, 2012. And, of course, making it even bigger and better.
“The Alltech National Horse Show was magical,” said John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park. “There is now no question but that the show has found a home and we are proud to welcome everyone involved to the Kentucky Horse Park family.
“We are well on our way to restoring the glamour and prestige of the show. I believe this will be a great Bluegrass institution and tradition.”
Nicholson said there are no specific economic impact numbers yet for the show, but that the 14 brand new events the park had this year due to new facilities produced $44.2 million in economic impact and has created incredible demand, following last year’s World Equestrian Games.
Thousands attended the show – and nearly half a million viewed it online. It was broadcast live each day on the Alltech Ag Network.
The competition itself drew more than 560 horses and 350 riders from nine countries, including nine Olympic contenders over five days. And more than 2,500 area school children toured an educational “Horse Play” area, interacted with individuals from the horse community, and watched the competition.
Alltech president and founder Dr. Pearse Lyons said, “I am always awed by the power of the horses and the courage of the riders. Alltech is dedicated to animals achieving peak performance. This event showcased just that. I salute each of the competitors and we hope everyone will join us again next year.”
“We will certainly be back next year and it will be bigger and better,” said Alltech National Horse Show president Mason Phelps, Jr. “We are going to look at more options for next year. I promise you that we are bringing back all of the parts of the National Horse Show that we saw at Madison Square Garden years ago.”
The show’s new home drew rave reviews from competitors:
“I loved the National Horse Show, I was lucky enough to do it one year at Madison Square Garden in New York. They have done a fabulous job to bring that excitement to Lexington. There is a lot of prize money, the facility here is phenomenal and the management is excellent. The prize money is a big factor. Whenever you are planning a trip, you have to think of the risk-reward, and there’s a lot of reward coming here.”
Grand Prix champion Richard Spooner , California
“They really did a fabulous job with this year’s Alltech National Horse Show. It was really on par with any indoor horse show in Europe or anywhere in the world. There’s a great atmosphere here.”
Former FEI Secretary General, Michael Stone, now President of Equestrian Sports Productions in Wellington, Fla.
“This move to the Kentucky Horse Park for the Alltech National Horse Show is what I have been begging for. It is finally in a place that is horse friendly and somewhere where everyone can enjoy it. We are loving it! They have really gone overboard for hospitality and have bent over backwards to make this a special show.”
Trainer Don Stewart, Jr., Ocala, Fl
“What an incredible venue this is. There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm from sponsors, athletes, and people involved in the support of this event. That’s very exciting to see. The show is offering incredible prize money.”
Double Olympic Gold medalist McLain Ward
“The Alltech Arena is an ideal location for the National Horse Show, it is perfect for all the horsemen and horses, and it really captured the feel of Madison Square Garden. The Alltech National Horse Show has brought back class, something that has been lacking in horse shows today.”
United States Chef d’Equipe George Morris
“I think the Kentucky Horse Park is a great venue, a beautiful arena, I think that they could host a World Cup here one day. The Alltech National Horse put a huge effort into making it a success. I love that all of the classes have big money; it makes everyone try. With the huge money, you’re going to bring more top riders bringing their best horses and they’re going to go out there and try to win.”
Kent Farrington, winner of the Spy Coast Farm Open Jumper Speed Stake
“The show is beautiful, it’s the best place you can do it and they have made it look so nice. . . the excitement is back. I’m really excited to be champion here, but more than anything, the excitement is back for the show. It’s the way it should be; everything is perfect!”
Trainer, Jack Towell, whose daughter Elizabeth Boyd captured the Pony Lane Farm High Performance Hunter Championship
“For me this is a really special place, I love the Kentucky Horse Park, and it’s a lot of fun to be here. I also don’t worry about the footing because it is great. They’ve really gone all out to make it special. I think that the Alltech National Horse Show definitely has found a home. . . What I love about this venue is that they fill up the seats and there’s cheering; it makes it really special.”
Junior rider Lillie Keenan, winner of the $50,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Championship
“I think this a natural place for our National Horse Show, it is such a lovely facility. I was lucky enough to be coming to the Horse Park way back in the 80s and it’s quite lovely to see how the park has progressed, and certainly this is something that adds to the beauty and the overall theme, and probably bodes well for a fantastic future for the Alltech National Horse Show.”
Todd Minikus, winner of the Sasco Creek Farm Welcome Stake
“I think it is very nice here, you have a lot more room than you had in New York and the other venues. . . I think that it will only get better with time.”
Five-time Olympian for Great Britain, Nick Skelton
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