The tradition continued at the Mars Essex Horse Trials with the successful revival of the second competition following a 19-year absence. This June also marked 50 years since the event was founded by the Haller Family at their Hoopstick Farm.
"We couldn't be happier with how everything went with this year's event," said Ralph Jones, co-organizer of the Mars Essex Horse Trials. "The turnout we got from the riders and the support we received from the local community is everything we could have hoped for. Our plan is to continue to build on the tradition of the Mars Essex Horse Trials and this year was another great step forward."
Mars, Inc. played a significant role in the success of the renewed event. They signed on as the title sponsor in 2017 and continued their generous support again this year. Mars Equestrian Director Geoffrey Galant was on hand to assist with the awards.
"The event is wonderful. Ralph, Morgan, Guy, and their whole team have done an amazing job bringing this event back to life," said Galant. "As a company we are honored to be a sponsor. We manufacture products for horses, pets, and people and this event brings all those elements together in one place. New Jersey is the home state of our confectionary business; our headquarters is located here. I can't think of a better way to honor and give back to the community than by sponsoring this event."
Ryan Wood and Ruby on their way to winning Saturday's $20,000 Preliminary Essex. it studio Photo.
In 2018, six divisions were held each day with the $20,000 Preliminary Essex headlining the Trials. Australia's Ryan Wood led the competition from start to finish capturing the win on Ruby, owned by Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Saturday's other contests included two additional Preliminary divisions, Novice Open and Novice Rider divisions.
Sunday's lineup featured Open Training, Training Rider A and B divisions as well as three Beginner Novice divisions. Nicole Marcantonio and Guinevere took top honors in Beginner Novice A division. Tara Astacio won the Beginner Novice Rider B division on Money to Burn, and Elizabeth Stewart took home the blue ribbon in the Open Beginner Novice division on Speedy P.
In the Training divisions, Dale Eddy and Poker Run won Open Training, capturing the lead in dressage and adding only 1.20 time penalties on cross-country to finish with a three-phase score of 28.90. The massive Training Rider A division was won by Dawn Eastabrooks and Valito. The pair took the lead in dressage with a score of 30.50 and defeated 28 other horse-and-rider combinations going clear on both cross-country and show jumping to finish on their dressage score.
"It was amazing. I have had Valito since he was four years old and he's 13 now. We did not always have a successful run, but today he showed his true potential. I always knew he had it in him," said Eastabrooks. "It meant everything to win. It was the best day of my life other than having my children. I couldn't have done it without the help of my trainers Meg Kepferle and Corey Edwards. It was a magical day."
Donna White and High Stakes. it studio Photo.
Donna White and High Stakes also felt the magic of the afternoon winning the Training Rider B division. The pair finished fourth in last year's Mars Essex Horse Trials.
"It was nice to come back and win. The course rode great, it was one of the more challenging ones and it rode really well," said White. "This event is so well done. The property is beautiful and it's so nice to have such a great event right in your backyard. We'll definitely keep coming back."
Morgan Rowsell, the Mars Essex Horse Trials cross-country course designer and co-organizer, is counting on that.
"It was a great follow-up to last year. We're getting better and better every year," said Rowsell. "To bring an event like this back takes a herculean effort and I'm positive that with the support we have from the community, Moorland Farm, and the Far Hills Racing Association, the sky is the limit."
The Classic Car Show offered a different kind of horsepower. it studio Photo.
In addition to exciting competition, spectators at the Mars Essex Horse Trials also enjoyed family-friendly activities on Sunday. The Tewksbury Foot Bassets ventured out of the arena allowing fans to get "up close and personal" which was extremely popular. Another crowd pleaser was the Classic Car Show featuring stunning vehicles from various decades.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Greater Newark LifeCamp in nearby Pottersville, which provides an enriching day camp experience for approximately 300 Newark-area youths per day for six weeks during July and August.
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The popular Tewksbury Foot Bassets. it studio Photo.
About Essex Horse Trials
For three decades, the Essex Horse Trials was one of the highlights of the equestrian calendar, attracting top American and international competitors as well as thousands of fans who enjoyed its social aspects as well. The event was originally conceived in 1968 as a competition for young riders. Proceeds from the event benefit the Greater Newark LifeCamp in nearby Pottersville, which provides an enriching day camp experience for approximately 300 Newark-area youths per day for six weeks during July and August.
Mars, Inc., the original sponsor of the Essex Horse Trials, returned in 2017 and continues as the event's title sponsor. Presenting sponsors include Open Road Auto Group, Peapack-Gladstone Bank, RWJ Barnabas Health, and Running 'S' Equine Veterinary Services. For additional information, please visit www.essexhorsetrials.org.
About Mars, Incorporated
Mars, Incorporated is a private, family-owned business with more than a century of history, $35 billion in sales, and six diverse business segments producing some of the world's best-loved brands: PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, IAMS®, BANFIELD® CESAR® (Petcare); M&M'S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY®, TWIX® (Chocolate); DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT®, 5™, SKITTLES® (Wrigley); UNCLE BEN'S®, DOLMIO®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® (Food); ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® FLAVIA® (Drinks); and COCOAVIA® (Symbioscience). Headquartered in McLean, Va., Mars operates in 421 facilities across 78 countries, where our more than 80,000 Associates - all united by the company's Five Principles of Quality, Efficiency, Responsibility, Mutuality and Freedom - strive every day to create relationships with our stakeholders that deliver growth we are proud of.
For more information about Mars, Incorporated, please visit www.mars.com.
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.