With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games taking place in the summer of 2020, athletes in all Olympic disciplines are hard at work to qualify. Equestrian disciplines are no different, and the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event is proud to serve as the only Olympic qualifying event in the Southeast United States for three-day eventing. Best described as an equestrian triathlon, the same horse and rider combination competes in three different disciplines over the course of three days – dressage, show jumping, and the popular cross-country competition which includes around 10 minutes of galloping over rolling hills with up to 40 cross-country jumps such as logs and water crossings.
“To serve as an Olympic qualifying event in just the fourth running of this event speaks to the quality of Marion County for equestrian sport in general, and the Ocala Jockey Club in particular”, said Pavla Nygaard, President of the Ocala Jockey Club. The excellent footing, viewing opportunities, and stunning spectator-friendly rolling hill terrain have propelled the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event to bring $1 million of annual economic impact to Marion County and to win the 2018 Florida Sports Foundation Small Market Event of the Year Award. In recognition of its sports tourism value, the event has been generously supported with a grant by the Marion County Visitors & Convention Bureau (MCVCB) as well as numerous local and national sponsors.
Dan Millstead of Equine Turf is again in charge of developing the turf gallops and arenas. The cross-country courses are designed by Olympic individual silver medalist Clayton Fredericks under the wing of Mike Etherington-Smith, the course designer for the Sydney and Beijing Olympic Games, as course advisor. In a Horse Capital TV video preview, Mike Etherington-Smith says: “It is a designer’s dream to be able to design at a venue like this. We both have been involved in eventing all over the world for many, many years. This features one of the best venues around. It really is spectacular. There is mature parkland, there are mature trees. Over the last few years, there has been a huge amount of work on the ground to upgrade the footing, and that’s the most important thing. It’s just a fantastic place to do it.”
Regarding the course design changes for this year’s event, Clayton Fredericks says: “We’re into our fourth year of the event. I had the idea to change the direction that we’re going in some of the places, so that is going to mix it up a bit and make it different for the riders when they come. We are turning some of the combinations around and giving it just a different feel.” With around 30 new or rebuilt fences, there will be plenty of new questions for riders and their equine partners.
This year’s fourth annual Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event is set to run November 14-17, 2019. Along with the eventing competition, there will be plenty of other spectator attractions with demonstrations, a kid zone, vendor village, and food vendors. General admission is $10 per day, or $25 for weekend admission and the event program. Parking is free. Tailgating is available on Saturday cross-country day for $95. VIP access in the picturesque Fireside Room of the OJC Clubhouse starts at $250. Tickets and event information are available on the event website at www.ojc3de.com.
About 200 acres of the 950-acre Ocala Jockey Club property serve as a Thoroughbred training farm and to stand stallions. The facility also includes townhouses and an iconic clubhouse, which serves as a unique venue for weddings, meetings, and other special events. For more information on the Ocala Jockey Club, visit www.ocalajc.com.
The spring eventing season in the Midwest is always a toss-up due to unpredictable weather. Will it rain, will it be sunny, or will it be a snowstorm? No one knows! Mid-America Combined Training Association’s (MACTA) first cross-country schooling of the season was cancelled in March due to extremely muddy footing conditions and by the time our April dates came around, COVID-19 was in full force and we were unable to host our cross-country schooling and schooling show.
The FEI has published its Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at assisting organizers and national federations with the safe resumption of international equestrian events in line with national and local restrictions.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has approved additional modifications to the qualification period for the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The AEC is scheduled to take place August 25-30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the USEA is doing everything possible to ensure a safe and successful Championship, while also ensuring fair opportunities for all.
This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).