From the May/June 2014 issue. Written by S. E. Morris

Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., is the site for the Eventing preparation trials for the upcoming 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The trials, which will be held July 26–27, will include dressage, show jumping, and cross-country events in advance of the international competition held in Normandy, France, from Aug. 23–Sept. 7, 2014.

“We are extremely pleased and honored to have this prestigious event held here,” said Great Meadow Foundation president Robert L. Banner.

“The trials are the final preparation for the World Equestrian Games; there will be between 18 and 20 horses and riders, including the Canadian equestrian team, participating in the trials,” he added.

The Great Meadow facility has been named as the site for the preparation trials by David O’Connor, Chef d’Equipe of the U.S. Equestrian Team eventing squad and an Olympic gold medalist. O’Connor recently stepped down as the president of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, a post he held 10 years, and accepted the position as Chef d’Equipe in order to steer the U.S. Equestrian Team back to winning medals at international competitions. Michael Etherington-Smith, chief executive of British Eventing, will design the cross-country course at Great Meadow; he has designed numerous courses at the sport’s highest level, including the Olympic cross-country courses in Sydney and Hong Kong.

The World Equestrian Games (WEG) preparation trials scheduled events open the morning of July 26 in Great Meadow’s arena with the dressage portion of the testing. That evening, the trials resume in the same arena beginning with a bareback puissance class, followed by the show jumping test. The trials continue the following morning, July 27, on the racecourse with the cross-country phase and then return to the arena for the closing ceremony and press conference.

“This event also launches the celebration of the opening of the new Fleming Park, which will host more international events at our location,” stated Banner.

greatmeadow_flemingfarmIn February 2014, Great Meadow Foundation completed purchase of its adjacent 174 acres, called Fleming Farm, thereby 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.
Fleming Park will feature a large, all-weather arena and a world-class cross-country course; it is expected to be completed for use in the summer of 2015. Banner acknowledges “the major support and generous funding and the donors who made Fleming Park possible.” A VIP reception dinner on the pavilion will be held the evening of July 26 during the show jumping; the reception will “not only acknowledge the candidates of the U.S. Equestrian Team but also provide a wonderful way to show our gratitude for our donors,” according to Banner.

The mission of the Great Meadow Foundation 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 popular Fourth of July celebration.

General admission tickets for the preparation trials will be available for $30 per carload. Spectators will be offered  ringside boxes that seat six to 10 people, or they may tailgate on the tree-lined and elevated grass hill outside of the polo arena, a perfect spot on which to arrange picnic blankets and lawn chairs. Space for larger groups will be available on a covered entertainment deck, and on Saturday night, there will be tables in a tented VIP reception dinner on the berm overlooking the arena. After Saturday’s events, the large pavilion will be turned into a temporary nightclub for participants who wish to stay later and enjoy dancing with music provided by a DJ.

“We need everyone to the preparation trials,” Banner urges.

“We would like to have as many faces in the crowd as possible for the horses and riders to become adjusted to the large crowds and cheering in preparation for the atmosphere they will face in Normandy. 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.

“Horse people are a wonderful group; we always have a good time at any event!” added Banner.

For more information about the WEG Preparation Trials, including weekend schedule and ticket purchasing, contact the Great Meadow Foundation at 540.253.5000, email, or visit the website at

Press Release June 12, 2014

Great Meadow Hosts World Equestrian Games 2014 Preparatory Trials
Featuring Exclusive VIP Dinner Reception in Conjunction with the Show Jumping Phase Saturday July 26th

On July 26th and 27th, Great Meadow, home of the prestigious Gold Cup, will host one of the most significant events for the Land Rover United States Eventing Team (USET): the final preparation trials for the top horses and rider combinations who will represent the United States at the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

“We are thrilled to welcome our nation’s top horses and riders to Great Meadow, fittingly located in the heart of Virginia’s horse country. Our goal to is provide a world class stage for these incredible athletes to prepare for Normandy, France, while showing all spectators the first-class and festive atmosphere that Great Meadow is famous for,” said Great Meadow Executive Director, Rob Banner.

The VIP Dinner Reception, Chaired by Beverly Equestrian’s Darrin Mollett, will take place on Saturday July 26th and serve as a major fundraising event with all proceeds benefiting the Great Meadow Foundation and USET. The VIP Dinner Reception will be held in a private tent overlooking the arena in conjunction with the show jumping phase. Additionally, VIP table buyers will receive access to the up-close action with desserts and bottle service served to their private ringside boxes.

“We’ve assembled a talented team of proven event professionals and vendors to create a one-of-a-kind exclusive VIP dinner event with a red, white and blue décor theme and divine French menu that will entertain and delight all VIP guests,” Banner concluded. “This dinner will help to raise vital funding for both Great Meadow and the USET, supporting the facility expansion and the efforts to take the team to France.”

VIP Tables are offered in 3 tiers:

Gold Table for $5,000: Includes front row table placement with seating for 10, a plated dinner by Design Cuisine in the reserved VIP section of the pavilion, open bar, valet parking, access to an arena box for up close access to the show jumping action with dessert and bottle service, name in the program, and other perks.

Sponsor Table for $2,500: Includes second row table placement with seating for 10, a plated dinner by Design Cuisine in the reserved VIP section of the pavilion, open bar, parking passes, and other perks.

Individual VIP Tent Ticket $200 per person or $250 per person at the door: Includes heavy hors d’oeuvres by Design Cuisine and full open bar in the pavilion.

For the regular general admission to the preparatory trials, a general admission car pass for all three phases (two days) is $50 and a single phase general admission car pass is $30. For more information and tickets/tables, please visit: