Great Meadow shortlisted for international competition

THE PLAINS — Great Meadow has been home to some of the most illustrious equestrian competitions in the world. Now, sometime this summer, it may get to add to its resume – the  course was chosen as just one of two U.S. finalists to play host to the Concours Complet International four-star equestrian competition, the highest level of competition on the CCI circuit.

And what comes along with that potential is more than just a chance to host an international competition; if awarded the four-star, Teresa Condon, director of operations, explained that the economic benefits of the competition could expand into Warren County and the northern tip of Shenandoah County.

“I could see the radius expanding out about, what we see, as about 40 miles from Great Meadow,” Condon said. “We think we would fill up hotel rooms within a 40-mile radius. If we’re talking about the crowds that we’re thinking, over the number of days, it could be well in the $50 million area.”

Condon explained the process that Great Meadow had to go through to be shortlisted as a potential host, along with Fair Hill in Cecil, Maryland.

“The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) put out a request for a bid for this four-star event,” Condon said. “Five different facilities submitted bids for this four-star. Each of the facilities had a meeting with the selection committee and submitted very comprehensive bids. It was narrowed down to Great Meadow and Fair Hill.”

The bid packet Great Meadow submitted to the USEF highlighted what makes it such an optimal choice. Some of those highlights included:

• Optimum facility and a spectator friendly course.

• It’s regional location, just 50 minutes away from Washington D.C., international airports and two equine veterinary hospitals.

• Experience with large crowds — Great Meadow already hosts events that bring more than 200,000 people to the site each year.

• An equine quarantine center at Dulles Airport, making it easier to get horses to Great Meadow.

Condon further explained that Great Meadow is already prepared for international competition.

“We have experience in hosting, not only a three-star event, we host the only Nations Cup event in the United States, Condon said. “We have the experience hosting 60,000 plus people here every year for the Virginia Gold Cup, which is something our competitors have not done before.”

After Great Meadow and Fair Hill were chosen as the two finalists, members of the selection committee from the USEF went out to each location to scout and ask more detailed questions about each facility, their finances and what steps each location would take if they’re selected to host the four-star. Finally, the selectors will make their recommendation to the board of the USEF.

If chosen, Great Meadow would join Lexington, Kentucky, as the other host of a four-star event, as Lexington hosts the Rolex Three-Day Event the last weekend of April.

The bid will be awarded later this summer and the winner will host the four-star event starting in 2019. But despite having two years to get prepared, Condon said that they could be ready to host right now if needed.

“We’re very prepared because we currently host a CICO three-star, which will happen in July and will have some of the world’s best riders here and horses flying in from England, Germany and Ireland,” Condon said. “We are very prepared. We could have done it this year if need be. We want to do it really well the first time, so having a little more time is only going to help us.”