The Devon Horse Show is synonymous with elite show jumping competition and is well-respected as the most prestigious and largest outdoor, multi-breed and multi-discipline horse show in the country since 1896. Scheduled for Thursday, May 24 to Sunday, June 3, 2018, the historic Devon Horse Show will once again feature international show jumping at a world-class level with an FEI CSI4* competition, drawing the world’s best, including Olympians McLain Ward and Beezie Madden.
The King of Devon comes to the Devon Horse Show: McLain Ward Photo: CSIO Roma
While the show reflects the local traditions and lifestyle of Philadelphia, the annual event also attracts top national and international athletes. This year’s star-studded lineup includes the likes of 2018 World Cup Champion Beezie Madden, Olympian McLain Ward, and rising star Devin Ryan. The Devon Horse Show is the ideal way for these world-class athletes to kick off their spring and summer competition schedules.
The Devon Open Jumper Section is just one major highlight of the event and has generously expanded its purse money to $475,000 in possible earnings this year. All classes will boast a FEI CSI4* ranking and athletes who compete in any of the designated events will be eligible to earn world-ranking points.
Thirty elite open jumper riders will be chosen to take part in the Devon Open Jumper Section, which will host classes such as the $35,000 Devon International Speed Stake, the $50,000 Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake, and the $70,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake, all of which will take center stage in the iconic Dixon Oval.
McLain Ward is both a familiar face in the sport of show jumping as well as a regular competitor at Devon each May. “I think Devon is a really phenomenal competition. The atmosphere, the history and the nostalgia that comes from the venue and that arena is something very special,” he expressed. “I think that the investment of the community and the organization in recent years has really brought it back to a first-class event. I think that it is important if we want great events in our country, then the top riders need to support them and help make them successful.”
The show is extra meaningful to Ward as he and his two-time Olympic medal winning mount, Sapphire, have accrued numerous wins and top results at Devon throughout the years. Ward holds a record of winning the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon nine times during his illustrious career, two of which were with Sapphire, after whom the class is now named in memoriam.
Another reason Ward returns to Devon each year is the passionate crowd, ranging from fellow equestrian athletes to horse enthusiasts to Pennsylvania locals and their families in search of a fun, friendly outdoor event.
“The crowd at Devon is arguably as good of a crowd as any in the world. The venue is packed to capacity and it’s a knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd. It is an event for the area, for all of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas,” Ward acknowledged. “It’s like the Hampton Classic where people make it a point to be there on grand prix day as well as the other days. It goes to show that if you put on a top-notch event like that, people will come and entertain it.”
Celebrating its fortieth year running, the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon continues to be a highlight event and it will offer $250,000 in winning prize money. This year, it will take place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 31 and as always, it is sure to bring a great crowd.
Rider and trainer Devin Ryan, who operates his River Run Stables in Long Valley, N.J., said, “It’s my favorite horse show! There is just something about it. There is something about the [Dixon Oval], I don’t know what the numbers are, but it always feels bigger than it is. Devon is a show that has been around for a long time. Being from New Jersey and being so close to Pennsylvania, I know that it is a big deal for people and it’s nice that it is a hometown show.”
Most recently, Ryan came in second place during his Longines FEI World Cup Finals debut in Paris, France, behind winner Beezie Madden. Ryan is eager to showcase his talented mounts, Eddie Blue and Cooper, in the open jumper classes.
After Madden’s spectacular win overseas at the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in April, the show jumping icon is looking forward to be back competing on American soil.
“I’ve always really liked Devon as a horse show and I think they put a big effort into putting it on,” Madden praised. “It happens to fit in well with our schedule this year. Many improvements have been made including the footing, so I was excited to put it on our 2018 schedule.”
Madden added, “Devon has a lot of history and is a place where people want to go and do well. You have to qualify to get there, and the fans are always great. The fan base that comes every year is huge and it’s nice that Devon does it for charity, for the [Bryn Mawr] hospital.”
In addition to world-class show jumping athletes, riders from various disciplines such as hunters, equitation, sidesaddle, eventing, driving and renowned breeders come to experience the magic of Devon. Along with its long list of disciplines, the show also offers a multitude of classes to cater to all levels from leadliners to Grand Prix riders.
With the grandeur of Philadelphia’s prestigious Main Line setting the stage, the Devon Horse Show features a world-class field that annually ranks among the most prominent internationally. The event also includes the infamous Country Fair that attracts people of all ages. It offers world-class shopping, rides and games for kids, multiple dining options and special entertainment events.