These are exciting times at Thunderbird Show Park.
Langley’s 85 acre equestrian centre – voted No. 2 by the North American Rider Group in 2015, the third time in four years it has earned such an honour – is hosting the $85,600 CSI04 Furusiyya Nations Cup June 3, followed by the $128,400 CSI04 Nations Week Finale Grand Prix June 5.
The Furusiyya Nations Cup is similar to golf’s Ryder Cup, where the results of an individual sport are fused into a team event.
“Normally, show jumping is very individualistic,” said Thunderbird vice president and tournament manager Chris Pack. “You can ride for your country but you are competing for yourself. This is strictly teams. All the points are accumulated… so it’s the only kind of team event in show jumping.”
For the Cup, the world is divided into six regions – Europe (Divisions 1 and 2), North and Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Middle East, and Asia and Africa. Hosting is a coup for Thunderbird, since it only comes to Canada once a year.
“It’s a big qualifier,” Pack explained. “Mexico, U.S.A., and Canada – only the top two nations go to the finals and the finals are in Barcelona every year.”
Last year, Canada didn’t qualify for the final but in 2014, the nation took third.
“It’s a huge thing to try to get back there,” Pack said.
There will be eight nations, each consisting of four rider-and-horse partners.
“We have seven [nations] confirmed, the eighth one is tentative,” Pack said.
This year’s event will be tricky, Pack said, as the 2016 Rio Olympics start Aug. 5.
“It depends on who has their [Olympic] trials where,” Pack said. “Because nobody one has designated this as a trial, that means people will be coming here in between the trials.”
The Furusiyya Nations Cup is new ground for Thunderbird.
Its signature event each year comes every August, with the $135,600 CSI3-W Longines World Cup Qualifier scheduled this summer for Aug. 28.
“We have a few shows in between but these are our two premier events of the year,” Pack said.