Three cheers for three-star

After almost 15 years since Great Meadow hosted its last internationally-sanctioned horse trials, the June 19-21 Land Rover International brings top-level eventing back to The Plains.

The $30,000 CIC*** (Federation Equestre Internationale-speak for an Olympic-level three-day event compressed into two days) will be a prep trials for the Pan American Games, scheduled in July in Canada.

Great Meadow held a wildly-successful World Equestrian Games prep trial last summer.

U.S. team coach David O’Connor, himself an Olympic gold medalist and instrumental in bringing the sport to his hometown of The Plains, told Eventingnation.com that the idea was to make it like â??dinner and a movie, almost like ‘date night’.â? â??With great entertainment, great food and a great atmosphere to really make it something special,â? organizing committee co-chair Darrin Mollett said. â??we want to attract the owners and the sponsors and really make the sport better.â?

The â??dinner and a movieâ? concept is evident in the event schedule, with the opening dressage phase set Friday afternoon and evening. Sally O’Connor, an event coach herself, mother of David, and a regular guest commentator at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, will provide commentary over a closed-circuit headset that can be purchased at the event.

During breaks in dressage action, Great Meadow Foundation president Rob Banner said there will be entertainment in the lighted arena, with a vendor village open all afternoon and evening.

A bareback puissance â?? high-jump without a saddle â?? kicks off the action Saturday afternoon, with show jumping to follow, also in the lighted arena. A VIP dinner reception is planned ringside, with dancing and a cash bar in the pavilion after the show jumping phase.

Cross-country begins Sunday morning. The course was designed by Mike Etherington-Smith â?? the Pan Am team horses will follow a modified two-star track woven into the CIC*** course.

Nearly 12,000 attended over the two-day WEG prep trials last summer.

Banner said the 200 by 300 competition stadium and Fleming Farm cross-country course will be ready to host the FEI Nations Cup next year, the first time it’s been held in North America.

Volunteers are needed to help run the event â?? jobs range from hospitality aides to crowd control, score runners to parking patrol. Find a volunteer form, as well as ticket information, at www.GreatMeadowInternational.com.

Betsy Burke Parker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach her at betsyburkeparker@gmail.com

Pan Am team list

The Pan American Games are in July in Toronto. Team competitors are Phillip Dutton, Lauren Kieffer, Marilyn Little and Boyd Martin. Lauren Kieffer of The Plains made the alternate list with Jacque Mars’ Vermiculus, along with Jennie Brannigan, Matt Brown, Will Faudree, Michael Pollard and Tamra Smith.