Robert L. Banner, President of Great Meadow Foundation in The Plains, VA reported that on Friday, February 28, 2014, Great Meadow completed purchase of their adjacent 174 acres called Fleming Farm, reuniting parcels that were originally purchased by Arthur “Nick” Arundel in 1982 so that The Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase races could establish a permanent home.

At that time, Arundel separated enough land to adequately host the races and retained interest in the remaining acres.  He established a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, now known as Great Meadow Foundation and donated the racecourse property to the Foundation.  Great Meadow’s mission is to “preserve open space for equestrian and community service.”  Today, the foundation plays host to more than 40 events and draws more than 200,000 spectators through its gates annually.  In addition to being the permanent home of the Gold Cup steeplechase races, the Great Meadow calendar features polo, show jumping, wine festivals, rocketry competition, cross-country foot races, and a very popular July Fourth celebration.

Arundel died in 2011 and recently, his heirs put the property he retained, known as Fleming Farm, on the market.  Banner saw that by acquiring it, he could not only preserve more open space, but also expand the World class facility to offer high performance eventing.  Great Meadow is conveniently located near many of the nation’s best horses and riders, the vibrant Washington DC market, Dulles airport, two 4-lane highways, two equine veterinary hospitals, and the newly opened Salamander Resort, a luxury resort in Middleburg, VA, all minutes away.  Set in the picturesque Piedmont Valley, Great Meadow’s views offer breathtaking vistas that clearly demonstrate why local residents protect their open space so tenaciously.  It is the ideal platform to showcase equestrian sport and open space conservancy.

Banner contacted David O’Connor, Chef d’Equipe of the US Equestrian Team eventing squad.  O’Connor recently stepped down as the President of The US Equestrian Federation, a post he held 10 years, and stepped up to the role of Chef d’Equipe in order to steer the USET back to winning medals at international competition.  O’Connor, himself an Olympic gold medalist, agreed with Banner that Great Meadow was uniquely suited to help achieve his goals and the two started planning.

O’Connor encouraged Michael Etherington-Smith to design a World-class cross-country course at Great Meadow.  Etherington-Smith has designed numerous courses at the sport’s highest level including the Olympic cross-country courses in Sydney and Hong Kong.  He is currently the Chief Executive of British Eventing, and the British are the current Olympic gold medalists.  Etherington-Smith has agreed to design Great Meadow’s course and arrives mid-March to start.  Now that the property has been purchased, construction of the facility, which will include a large all-weather arena, and in-ground irrigation of the cross-country course, can begin soon.

When the work is completed, Great Meadow will place the entire property into a conservation easement that will protect the property for these purposes for perpetuity.

Banner reports that while the purchase is complete, the fundraising is continuing and invites any and all support.  He acknowledges that getting to this point could not have been possible without major support from the core of Great Meadow’s leadership.  Major donors include Mrs. Magalen O. Bryant, Mrs. Jacqueline B. Mars, Mr. Bill Ballhaus and Mrs. Darrin Mollett and their Beverly Equestrian Center, Mr. and Mrs. Naj Husain and their Morningside Training Center, Sheila Johnson and her Salamander Resort, Mr. and Mrs. Irv Naylor, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Akre, Mrs. George L Ohrstrom, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Michael T. Hall, and Mr. and Mrs. Michael Crane.  If you are interested in joining this distinguished group, contact Robert Banner at Great Meadow Foundation by emailing robertbanner2@gmail.com, calling (540) 729-1335, or writing 5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains, VA 20198.

 

Great Meadow to host eventing selection trials for 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Great Meadow Foundation in The Plains, VA has recently purchased the 174 acres adjacent to their 200-acre primary property and will construct a World class facility hosting high performance eventing on the newly acquired land.  The first opportunity to safely use the new arena and cross-country course will be Summer of 2015.

In the mean time, David O’Connor, Chef d’Equipe of the US Equestrian Team eventing squad has named Great Meadow as the site of the selection trials for the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and will conduct activities on the primary property.  Dressage and show jumping will be tested in the existing arena and cross-country will be tested on the existing racecourse.  The trials are to be held July 26-27 at Great Meadow in advance of the international competition held in Normandy, France, August 23 – September 7.  The list of competitors will include the nation’s finest horses and riders in the eventing discipline.

Dressage tests will begin Saturday morning, July 26 in Great Meadow’s present arena.  That evening, the trials resume in the same arena beginning with a bareback puissance class followed by the show jumping test.  While the competition is conducted in the arena, a VIP reception will be held in the pavilion on the berm overlooking to cheer on the team and celebrate the opening of the new event park on the Fleming Park property.  The trials continue the next morning on the racecourse with the cross-country phase and return to the arena for the closing ceremony and press conference.

Robert Banner, President of Great Meadow reports that there will be an opportunity to buy general admission tickets for $30 a carload, ringside boxes for 6-10, tailgates on a tree-lined berm overlooking the lighted arena, space for larger groups on a covered entertainment deck, and tables in a tented VIP reception dinner on the tree-lined berm overlooking the arena for Saturday night.  Saturday night will end with dancing for everyone in the pavilion and continue until late.  Banner invites all to suport.  The team needs plenty of faces in the crowd to replicate the atmosphere they will face in Normandy.  Please come to cheer the team on to victory in France and celebrate the opening of Great Meadow’s brand new event park opening next year.

A detailed schedule for the entire weekend, as well as opportunities to purchase general admission and reserved area tickets will be posted on the Great Meadow Foundation website, www.greatmeadow.org <http://www.greatmeadow.org> , by emailing info@greatmeadow.org <mailto:info@greatmeadow.org> , or by calling (540) 253-5000.  The offices are located at 5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains, VA 20118.