The North American Riders Group (NARG) has released its Top 25 report for 2015, and Canadian shows have claimed the top three spots.
Spruce Meadows received the highest score once again. Setting the standard for North American venues long before NARG began, the Masters Tournament at Spruce remains one of the world’s most challenging and richest events in our sport. With the utmost respect, NARG honors the memory of both Ron Southern and Albert Kley, whose incredible impact on this sport will be felt for years to come.
Thunderbird held firmly onto their second spot. As the highest placing indoor event with a great crowd, Royal Winter Fair jumped up to claim the third spot on the list.
The top two shows on American soil sit fourth and fifth. Both shows were new to the list in 2015, and both have a European flair: the Longines Masters of Los Angeles with its second Masters Grand Slam event, and this continent’s first Global Champions Tour, GCT Miami. One new American show with a European feel also made the top 25 this year, the Split Rock Jumping Tour.
With one of the world’s best grass fields, Mexico’s Xalapa maintained its sixth position for the second year in a row. See the complete list below.
NARG instituted its Top 25 initiative in 2010. This evaluation process, now in its sixth year, has been a positive influence on the sport, by changing perspectives, fostering discussion and essentially putting the spotlight on top horse shows in North America.
During the first year of evaluations, NARG found that even our continent’s best events were lacking in one way or another. The North American FEI World Cup™ Qualifiers were often only CSI2* events with poor prize money and minimal World Ranking offerings. The only CSI5* classes in all of North America were three weeks at Spruce Meadows and one week at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Only Spruce Masters offered prize money over $500,000.
NARG has developed a keen awareness of the effort required to produce a world-class equestrian competition, and we are grateful to the many organizers who have welcomed and embraced the NARG evaluations. In turn, NARG has listened to management, and the evaluation process in 2015 reflected what we learned.
It became clear that the 1-5 scale wasn’t broad enough to delineate an event’s strength or weakness, so the 2015 shows were evaluated on a 1-10 scale, making it a bit more difficult to achieve a perfect score.
NARG also recognizes the Specialty Equestrian Events, one-day invitational shows with high-level show jumping and once again, the New Albany Classic earned the number one spot. Held in a lovely setting and raising significant money for charity, this event offers an invitational grand prix surrounded by community activities and welcomes thousands of visitors each year.
The brand-new Longines FEI North American Jumping League chose fourteen venues, seven on each coast, to present events with 2015/2106 Longines FEI World Ranking classes and World Cup™ Qualifiers. With only one event remaining, Live Oak International later this week, NARG commends all the managers who stepped up to participate in this venture and is confident all of the 2016 events, such as the intimate and beautiful Valle de Bravo and the inaugural Wellington Masters, would have made the list.
NARG is proud to note that all but three in this year’s NARG Top 25 were FEI-sanctioned events, and each of those three, Devon, Upperville and Old Salem Spring, will now be FEI events in 2016. It is also notable that in 2016 the North American show schedule will include seventeen CSI5* events. Plus there are now six shows in the Top 25 with $500,000 or more in prize money.