46/ JUNE 2020 THE RIDER Virginia Gold Cup will Run without Spectators on June 27

One of the Largest Stee- plechase Events in US

Equestrian industry suffers huge financial losses from cancellations of competi- tions

WARRENTON, Va., June 9, 2020—Every May, on the same date as the Kentucky Derby, one of the nation’s largest steeplechase events takes place in Northern Vir- ginia. As an event that has been run on the first Satur- day in May for the past 94 years, the Virginia Gold Cup is considered to be Vir- ginia’s answer to the Ken- tucky Derby. Like other

livestreamed and will be available at no cost. “We wanted to pro-

vide a venue for the steeple- chase/racing industry to be able to get horses out and re- ceive some financial support in the form of purse money,” explained Dr. William Allison, chairman of the Virginia Gold Cup Association. “Jockeys and trainers have continued training their horses all spring without having any- where to run them. This will provide a great opportu- nity.”

Race meets have been

cancelled all spring and this has left the horse industry flat out with unprecedented

viable and tangible boost to keep many working in the equine industry employed.

horses in the state that pro- vide approximately 38,874 jobs. It also stated that there are 30.5% or one million households that contain horse enthusiasts. “The via- bility of the horse industry is an important component for the Commonwealth’s econ- omy,” Allison added. The 95th Virginia

Gold Cup will be held with limited people on-site—par- ticipants and essential per- sonnel only.


industries, COVID-19 has forced the equestrian indus- try to quickly pivot due to ongoing restrictions. Now, having had to cancel the May event on its 95th year, the Virginia Gold Cup will be held on June 27 without spectators and with limited people on the grounds (par- ticipants and essential per- sonnel only.) It will be

hardship. The steeplechase community has come to- gether to try to maintain the employment of more than 1,000 jockeys, trainers and many others on farms who exercise and care for the horses. The 95th running of the Virginia Gold Cup will provide purse money for participants. Even more im- portantly, it will provide a


The equine industry is to Virginia’s

economy. A 2018/19 report by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Con- sumer Services reported that the horse industry brings more than $2 billion annu- ally in economic develop- ment to the Commonwealth. The report noted that there are more than 183,643

worked closely with the Na- tional Steeplechase Associ- ation and Virginia Equine Alliance to find a way to run the Virginia Gold Cup that follows the current restric- tions, but helps support the struggling horse industry in Virginia,” Allison added. “It will be a bittersweet day without our loyal fans in at- tendance, but ultimately being able to host race day is a victory for us. We are hopeful racegoers will tune into the livestream.” The Virginia Gold

Cup encourages race fans to tune in and celebrate with appropriate socially- dis- tanced Gold Cup watch par- ties. Tailgate recipes and hat photos, in honor of the an-

2020 MARS Essex Horse Trials Country Weekend Cancelled Coronavirus Pandemic Forces Event’s Cancellation

Far Hills, New Jersey - June 1, 2020 - The Coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of this year’s MARS Essex Horse Trials Country Weekend. Scheduled for July 18-19 at his-

toric Moorland Farm in Far Hills, New Jersey, the MARS Essex Horse Trials features world-class and up-and-coming riders competing in Advanced and through Beginner Novice divisions. Benefiting the Greater Newark Life- Camp in Pottersville, New Jersey, the event offers a variety of family friendly activities including a classic car show, farm stand, demonstrations, vendors and the Willow school Children’s Activity Center. “This is disappointing for all of

us” said Ralph Jones, President of the MARS Essex Horse Trials. “We consid- ered various ways where we might be able to proceed but none with which we felt completely comfortable. In the end, nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our 300 com-

petitors, 182 volunteers and nearly 5,000 spectators and that is the overriding fac- tor.”

“We want to thank MARS Eques-

trian™, our title sponsor as well as AIG, Peapack Private Wealth Manage- ment, Running S Equine Veteri- nary Services, RWJ Barnabas Health, Open Road Auto Group for the continued support and we look forward to welcoming everyone back for a great event at Moorland Farm in 2021!”

About the MARS Essex Horse Tri- als Country Weekend The MARS Essex Horse Tri-

als was and is a major highlight on the equestrian calendar, attracting top American and international competitors as well as thousands of fans who have also enjoyed its social aspects. The event was orig- inally conceived in 1968 by the Haller Family at Hoopstick Farm

in Far Hills, New Jersey. Proceeds from the event benefit the Greater Newark LifeCamp in nearby Pottersville, which provides an enriching day camp experi- ence for approximately 300 Newark-

area children per day for six weeks dur- ing July and August. The Essex Horse Trials did not

take place for a number of years after losing its last venue due to local devel- opment. Then in 2017, due to the generosity of Guy Torsilieri and Ron Kennedy, Moorland Farms was made available. Moorland Farm, a picturesque

230-acre property, provides the breathtaking setting for the event’s current edition. It is the home of the annual Far Hills Race Meeting, a nationally prestigious steeple- chase race meeting held each Oc- tober.

MARS, Inc., the original

sponsor of the Essex Horse Trials, returned in 2017 and continues as the event’s title sponsor. Present- ing sponsors include AIG, Peapack Private Wealth Management, Run- ning S Equine Veterinary Services, RWJ Barnabas Health, and Open

Road Auto Group. For additional information, please


About MARS Equestrian™ MARS Equestrian™ Sponsorship

by MARS, Incorporated is the link be- tween our iconic brands and the eques- trian community. For generations, MARS has celebrated a rich equestrian heritage, and through purposeful part- nerships, MARS Equestrian™ is com- mitted to the sport and building an enduring legacy. From world-class com- petitions across all equestrian disci- plines, to stewarding the power of horses on society and sustainability, MARS Equestrian™ is dedicated to our purpose to improve the lives of horses, pets, and the people who love them. For additional information, please visit, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @marse- questrian.

nual Hat and Tailgate Con- tests, can be shared on the VGCA facebook,


gram, and twitter. Viewers can tune in to to live stream the event on June 27 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

For more information visit The 2020 Virginia

Gold Cup Races are pre- sented by Brown Advisory, the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective

Association, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, Virginia Equine Alliance and the Virginia Breeders Fund.

About the Virginia Gold Cup

The Virginia Gold

Cup is one of the largest and oldest steeplechase race meets in the country. Typi- cally run every spring on the first Saturday in May, it has been hailed as Virginia’s an- swer to the Kentucky Derby.

It was the first steeplechase to have sanctioned pari- mutuel wagering in the Commonwealth. Known for its quality racing, spectacu- lar scenery and lavish tail- gating, the event attracts more than 60,000 spectators annually. It is held at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., approximately 45 minutes west of Washington, D.C. in the heart of Virginia horse country. For more informa- tion visit www.VaGold-

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