It’s onward and upward for Conor Swail and Thunderbird Show Park, alike – thanks in part, possibly, to a few lucky shamrocks sprinkled around the grounds.
At least that’s what tbird president and tournament director Jane Tidball credited after the rider from Ireland soared to victory on his mare, Flower, during the FEI Longines World Cup Jumping event Sunday.
It was not only an historic day for Swail, but for the premiere Langley equestrian facility, Tidball explained.
She was able to announce one of the largest spectator crowds ever at tbird, and one of the largest participating horse-counts ever.
To top it all off, she was able to announce that tbird was approved to host the FEI Longines World Cup Jumping events again in 2018 and 2019.
But these upcoming competitions, she explained, will be an even higher calibre of international show jumping.
Concours de Saut International (CSI) is a ranking system used for the equestrian competition show jumping. All CSI events are approved by an international governing body of equestrian sport, namely the FEI.
CSI is broken down into a starring system, where more competitive events with more prize money have a higher number of stars.
Thunderbird will be elevated to four-star event next year, Tidball confirmed.
There are only five of the four-star events in the world each year.
Thunderbird has sold out its four major shows this season. And while she’s planning to keep the horse count in around the current 950 to 1,000, she said there are some plans to expand in other ways. They want to accommodate additional VIP and stadium spectators in future, and “we are changing our general admission plans to ‘complimentary’ in order to allow more community to experience these amazing world-class horses,” she said.
There were many proud moments for Tidball, as she began to reflect on the World Cup and all that transpired in the two weeks prior.
One of her “heartfelt highlight was that we were able to raise more than $40,000 for our charitable partner JustWorld International, to help break the poverty cycle with tbird’s Cambodia Rice for Families fundraiser,” Tidball shared.
But another of the “many highlights” for her was the “amazing calibre of riders” who came together to compete from five countries: Canada, USA, Mexico, France, and the FEI Longines World Cup Jumping champion from Ireland – Conor Swail.
“Best show ever,” she concluded.
More on the World Cup: