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67th Annual Del Mar National Horse Show


Now in its 67th year, the 2012 Del Mar National Horse Show will run Thursday, April 19, through Sunday, May 6, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Arena. The event continues to be among the most respected, distinguished, and popular equestrian events on the West Coast. Consisting of three distinctly different equestrian disciplines — Western, dressage, and hunter/jumper — the Del Mar National represents the best in competitive opportunities for serious and world-class equestrians. Each week of competition features its own signature Saturday night event — during Western Week, running April 19-22, the Night of the Horse promises an evening full of action, celebrities, color, and top-notch entertainment. A variety of equestrian disciplines will demonstrate the theme of the evening, “Why We Love Horses.” Mistress of ceremonies Bo Derek, actress and talented horsewoman, will bring dazzle and glamour to an already star-studded evening.


Also featured during the Night of the Horse will be Ramon Becerra’s dramatic liberty act magnificently illustrating the history of man and horse through a graceful performance, including elegant and difficult maneuvers. Fourth generation trick riders, the 9 and 13-year-old sons of Tad Griffith (known around the world for his famous trick riding and movie stunt riding) will perform their death-defying, high-speed trick riding. The Horse Whisperer satirical comedy routine will have the audience rolling in the aisles as they watch a horse train a dog.


The crowd will delight in the beauty of the Charros performing the Art of Floreo with Folklorico Dancers, the speed of colorful Escaramuza riders, as well as a precision drill team. The evening is jam-packed with even more exciting world-class equestrian entertainment, including the ever-popular American tradition of reining, which has become one of the most popular equine sports worldwide. The only woman to ever win the National Reining Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity, Sandy Collier, riding her horse Stressolena, will perform dizzying spins, slides, and an array of fast moves, all choreographed to music. After the show, guests will have a chance to meet the performers and get autographs and photos.


Dressage Week, April 26-29, includes qualifying competitions for the USEF National Grand Prix Championships/Olympic Selection Trials; the FEI North American Junior and Young Riders’ Championships; Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Pony Rider, Junior, Young Rider and Brentina Cup Championships; Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program and USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship — Prix St Georges Division, and Grand Prix Division.


You need not be an expert in the sport to be astonished and awed by the Evening of Musical Freestyles dressage competition on Saturday night. Olympic and World Champion pairs demonstrate the artistry, athleticism, and awe-inspiring collaboration between horse and rider.  Local resident, Olympian, and World Cup champion, Steffen Peters, will bring his nearly flawless horsemanship to the arena once again, riding Akiko Yamazaki’s magnificent horse, Ravel, along with other stellar mounts like Weltino’s Magic. Among other notables attending this year’s show are World Class competitor, local resident, and former Olympian, the legendary Guenter Seidel.


Hunter/Jumper Week, May 1-6, features the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar, which caps off the three weeks during an evening filled with exciting speed, agility, and nail-biting competition. Some of the best riders and horses in the nation will have you on the edge of your seat as they negotiate a difficult course of jumps exceeding five feet in height and width. Among the equestrian glitterati, Rich Fellers, who has won both the $25,000 Surfside Grand Prix of Del Mar and the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar (a mind-boggling four times), will compete again on his wonder horse, Flexible. A real power couple, Olympic champion Will Simpson, and his wife, Nicole Shahinian-Simpson, a six-time World Cup competitor, will bring their best horses in an effort to keep Fellers and Flexible in check this time. Olympic Trials may be a part of this year’s Hunter/Jumper Week, the details of which will be announced soon.


As has become a Del Mar National tradition, riders will be available after the class to sign autographs, meet, greet, and pose for photos with fans.


Grandstand tickets are $18 for each Saturday evening highlight event. (858/792-4252, www.delmarnational.com)


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