Garden State Horse Show to Host Devoucoux Hunter Derby; $50,000 Grand Prix dedicated to Jack Benson
RELEASE: May 7, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Nancy Johnson
Photo Courtesy Garden State Horse Show (Jack Benson's Memory will be honored during the $50,000 Grand Prix at the Garden State Horse Show.)
Now in its 59th year, Garden State Horse Show (GSHS) constantly strives to add special classes and incentives for its loyal exhibitors. This year, the show, which runs May 5-9 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ, has been selected to host one of the new Devoucoux 3’3” Hunter Derbies. Debuted at HITS Saugerties last spring, the class received rave reviews and this year has been expanded to a select number of Marshall & Sterling League horse shows. Only one Devoucoux Hunter Derby competition will be held in a given week at which competitors will accrue points to qualify for the Devoucoux 3’3” Hunter Derby Finals at the Marshall & Sterling League Finals, September 16-19, 2010.
GSHS Manager Tim Cleary thinks the class will be well received at Garden State. “It’s great because it’s open to everyone—juniors, amateurs and professionals. And with fences at 3’3” it suits a lot more exhibitors for whom the 3’6” plus fences in most derbies might be just a little too much,” he explains.
The class, which will be held on Sunday, May 9, in the main hunter arena, will be judged under the open numerical judging system with two judges, making the class more interesting for spectators. Vying for $5,000 in prize money, the riders will wear formal attire as they jump a classic-type course of at least 10 fences. The top 12 horses will return to jump a second round over a handy-type course of at least eight fences. The handy course may include elements such as rollbacks, option jumps, tight turn options, trot or walk a jump, hand gallop a jump, halt and/or back, and even open a gate while mounted.
In addition to adding new classes to keep things interesting, GSHS retains many of the exhibitor favorites year after year. The $50,000 Junior Essex Troop Garden State Grand Prix, as well as the $25,000 Welcome Grand Prix, always attract top caliber riders and horses and make for very exciting classes in the main jumper arena. “The competitive jumper people like the fact that there are two big money classes at Garden State,” Cleary affirms.
There are also some changes in the Horse Show Office at Garden State this year. “We’re excited to have Mary Norris running the office this year with a really good crew. The show office can be a hectic place and it’s important to us that our exhibitors always find the staff warm and friendly,” said Cleary.
“Although this is my first year in charge, I’ve worked in the office at Garden State for several years so I am very familiar with it. It’s a wonderful horse show, a favorite of the exhibitors,” Norris said. “I have assembled a crew with a lot of experience and they know many of the exhibitors from either Florida or New York.”
Norris reports on a couple of innovations to the Show Office this year. First is the addition of a satellite office adjacent to the annex rings. That office will be able to handle all exhibitors’ needs with the exception of financial transactions. Also new is an express checkout feature in the main Show Office. This will provide a speedy line to settle accounts for those with three horses or less. The larger barns can also avoid a wait by making an appointment to settle up their accounts.$50,000 Grand Prix dedicated to Jack Benson
The entire New Jersey horse show community has felt a great loss with the passing of Jack Benson on February 25. The Garden State Horse Show will honor their longtime friend by dedicating the $50,000 Garden State Grand Prix to Benson. The Grand Prix, the highlight event of New Jersey’s largest horse show, is slated for Saturday, May 8, at approximately 4 p.m.
“Jack has been an integral member of the Garden State Horse Show going back to the 80s when it was the Junior Essex Troop Horse Show. He always attended with significant entries from Briarwood,” notes GSHS manager Tim Cleary.
Not only did he support the show as an exhibitor, but from the late 1980s forward, Benson was an important member of the show staff as a course designer and jump supplier. “As so many of us, the GSHS will miss Jack Benson, his expertise and guidance, incredible zeal, great sense of humor, and phenomenal camaraderie,” Cleary emphasizes.
GSHS chairman Rodney Seelig compares Benson’s dedication to that he and his fellow organizers of GSHS knew growing up in the Junior Essex Troop. “His barn, more than any other, exhibits a true sense of community and involvement that encompasses entire families, riders and non-riders alike. Briarwood comes to shows as a team, ‘Jack’s Team’, and they participate together, as a group, in a sport that is all too often very individualistic...”
The GSHS committee is also working on the design for a perpetual/memorial trophy, “The Jack Benson $2500 Jumper Derby Trophy” that will be presented each year, beginning in 2011.
Along with his wife, Katie, Jack did a great deal for the entire New Jersey horse show industry. Not only does Briarwood support the shows by consistently bringing many entries, but Jack and Katie also hosted a popular series of well-run shows at their farm in Readington. The one-day shows, with a full array of hunter and jumper divisions, often draw as many as 300 entries. The Bensons were also very supportive of the intercollegiate riding program.
Garden State, which boasts the distinction of being New Jersey’s largest horse show and holds a USEF jumper rating 5 and AA hunter rating, attracts many of the country’s top show hunters and jumpers with many highly competitive divisions. However, the show also offers a wide variety of unrecognized divisions to suit horses and riders of every age and ability.
For prize lists or questions regarding entries, call (908) 963-3465 or visit the show’s website at www.gardenstatehorseshow.org