Sunday, March 19, 2017

Equestrian Venue Bucket List

The World Cup Finals are being held in Omaha, NE (yes, Omaha) in a few weeks and it made me think about the venues I'd like to visit to see the horses in action. I went to the World Cup in 2009 in Las Vegas and if it's easy to get to (as it was in Las Vegas) then it's worth the trip.  The tickets were reasonable and hotels in Las Vegas are cheap. I got to see the great Shutterfly, the great Sapphire and the late Oki Doki battle it out for first second and third. We visited Keeneland in October and have another trip planned in April but there are a few others on my list.

1) The Breeders' Cup
While some want to go to the Derby or the Preakness or any of the Triple Crown Races, I'd much prefer to go the Breeders' Cup.  In one or two days you're able to see the top race horses in the world in one location.  Next year the races return to the East Coast, to Churchill Downs, and I'm planning to make the trip.  This year the races will be in Del Mar.

2) Aachen
The top jumper riders all talk about Aachen and I'd just like to see it. I'll probably be disappointed but it's a good excuse to make the trip to Germany in June one year.

3) Saratoga
The three tracks people tell me I must visit are Keeneland, Saratoga and Del Mar. Now that I've been to Keeneland, I understand. Del Mar is the venue for this year's Breeder's Cup Races in November.  If you happen to live on the West Coast, make the trip.  I'm planning a trip to Southern California again at some point and this time I'll go to the races for sure.

4) Del Mar
Del Mar, enough said.

5) Spruce Meadows
My trips to Alberta (and there have been many) have all been in winter so I haven't had the pleasure of going to Spruce Meadows yet. But it's on the list.  The venue is near Calgary which isn't easy to get to but there are direct flights from Houston, Denver and Chicago.  The Canadian dollar is very good right now against the American dollar so it's an economical trip too. Put this on your calendar to go in June. The very best show jumpers in the world make the trip for the huge money classes. 

6) Keeneland
I made two trips to Keeneland last year.  The place is magical and I can't wait to go again very soon. 

7) Stallions
My big regret is that I didn't see Secretariat when he was alive.  We went to Winstar last fall and we have reservations for Coolmore in April. Hoping to see American Pharoah then and I want to see Tapit too at some point.  It's really great to see these horses up close if you can and it's not expensive, you just have to plan in advance.  

 (Winstar Farm)

(Pioneer of the Nile at Winstar)

8) The Upperville Horse Show
There's simply nothing like the Upperville Horse Show anywhere.  If you've never been and you love the hunters, this is a MUST see.  The show is a week long and it always starts the first Monday in June.  It usually rains at least one day and there are no hotels near Upperville that you will be able to afford so stay in Leesburg, VA or Winchester, VA.  It's unlike anything.  The first time I jogged my horse into the ring for ribbons, I almost cried. I had dreamed about it since I was a little girl.  A shopping bonanza not to mention you'll see the same horses here that you see in Palm Beach.  The top trainers give their best horses to the top Amateurs and Juniors to ride so I always used to say that I was riding for a "fifth" meaning that even if I received an 88 (a really high score) at Upperville that was not even close enough for a top call. There is nothing like this.

What's on your list?


  1. What a great list! The only things I would add are Badminton and Burghley in England. Rolex on cross country day is pretty epic and I've always wanted to see the British 4*'s in person.

  2. Love this list and your blog! I am hoping to make it to Tryon International in NC this spring. Lovely new venue!

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  4. Fun list. I'm very spoiled because I grew up near Saratoga and went there often, and live even closer now, so I spend a lot of time there. It has always been my favorite place for horses, but there are a few others that I enjoy, as well. I've had the good fortune to travel to Del Mar and Santa Anita, but, while the Breeders' Cup is a great event, I probably won't be there this year even though I have family nearby. I'd like to get to Tryon for the WEG next year, and having seen the Badminton 4*, Burghley is still on my must-attend list. I've been to Newmarket in England, but there's a newer museum of British racing there that I haven't visited, and I'd also love to see the major racing venues in France - Chantilly, Longchamp and Deauville - and perhaps the Haras du Quesnay in Deauville, where the renowned Head family - established originally Sir Alec, and now operated by son Freddie and daughter Criquette - raises and has trained such champions as Goldikova and Treve. Just saw a French video with Mme Criquette Head-Maarek overseeing the training of some young horses at the's glorious!

  5. During the 1950's I exhibited gaited horses at the American Royal in Kansas City. It was clearly the hay day of showing and the land mark trainers were all there. I took the week off from school and never missed seeing any of the classes. Those were the days. Thanks for maintaining an interesting blog. Ann


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