The downtown core of Vancouver, BC, got an exciting introduction to show jumping on Sunday. Right in the heart of the city, hosted by Thunderbird Show Park, the inaugural Vancouver Grand Prix brought the sport of show jumping straight to the people. With 500 tonnes of silica sand footing shipped in for the event, it was an opportunity for the city of Vancouver to experience the awe of show jumping up close.

Nineteen riders competed in the 1.40m Vancouver Grand Prix in a 90×175 foot ring. The field featured riders from Canada, USA, Ireland, Israel, and Netherlands. The riders brought their horses into the downtown location on Saturday and had the chance to ride around and help the horses adjust to their very different surroundings. On Sunday afternoon, the excitement in the crowd developed as the horses made their way out for competition. For many, it was their first time being so close to a horse.

The first round was over a course of ten jumps including a difficult combination out of a tight corner. Course designer Kirsten Rodel did a fantastic job of using the small space of the ring. The course gave the opportunity for riders to take risks, such as taking a jump on an angle. Rodel asked for just enough power from the horses where they couldn’t always get the pace because of the small space. The lines proved to tricky for the riders because if they missed their entry to the line, they were forced to add a stride or risk getting tight through the corner. Out of the 19 riders in the first round, 11 went clear and returned for the jump-off.

American Kyle King, riding Christian, an eight-year-old Westphalian stallion, took the win from the jump-off. Ashlee Bond and Cornancer were the closest to his time of 29.91, coming in second with 30.65. In third was Kristen Senger, the top-placed Canadian rider, with a time of 33.0.

The event was hosted by Thunderbird Show Park. The first of its kind in Vancouver, bringing the sport of show jumping to the downtown core. It was a free event and for most spectators, their first exposure to the sport. Thunderbird will be host to the third leg of the Longines FEI Nations Cup in Langley on June 3rd where we look forward to cheering on teams Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, and Ireland.

1. Christian, Kyle King USA
2. Cornancer, Ashlee Bond USA
3. Clarion SN, Kristen Senger CAN
4. All Faith MF, Chris Surbey CAN
5. Cantino 9, James Brennan IRL