2015 Spruce Meadows Summer Series Kicks Off With Media Day and Special Unveiling

Calgary, AB, Canada – June 2, 2015 – The 2015 Spruce Meadows Summer Series begins competition on Wednesday with its ‘National’ CSI 5* Tournament, presented by Rolex (June 3-7). Riders from 15 different nations have arrived in Calgary to vie for $1.2 million in prize money at the ‘National’ Tournament in some of the best show jumping competition in the world. An impressive 276 horses jogged for FEI stewards Tuesday morning and are set to compete throughout the week. The highlight event will be the $400,000 RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, on Saturday, June 6.

As Spruce Meadows welcomed its athletes, the Southern Family also welcomed representatives of the national and international press for Tuesday’s Media Day. Media had the opportunity to meet riders, tour the facility, and find out about this year’s tournaments and new improvements. During the day’s events, Spruce Meadows President Linda Southern Heathcott unveiled a special commemorative statue of Ron and Marg Southern to mark the creation of Spruce Meadows’ new Founders’ Plaza.

Spruce Meadows is currently undergoing one of the most robust capital programs in its history. The program includes the complete redevelopment of the All Canada Ring environment and the creation and completion of the Founders’ Plaza with all of its beauty, functionality and amenities. The project is underway and expected to be complete by the ‘Masters’ Tournament in September. This new upgrade will allow people to better enjoy competition in the All Canada Ring and will give an opportunity for Spruce Meadows to thank and honor those that have been supportive of Spruce Meadows for decades.

During the unveiling, Southern Heathcott spoke of Ron and Marg Southern’s vision in creating a world-class venue to bring the community together.

“This is our tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Southern, our co-chairmen,” said Southern Heathcott. “The ‘National’ Tournament is about community initiatives, and there are no two people that are better known in Calgary for their community initiatives and giving of themselves. Forty years ago, this was a cattle feed lot, and Marg and Ron Southern had the vision and the imagination that led us through to where we are today. Forty years of excellence and a sincere thank you to Marg and Ron Southern, but they didn’t do it just themselves. I look at Spruce Meadows, and it has been a journey. It is about friendships that we have forged with the athletes, with our corporate sponsors, the military, our traditions, our media, and our fans, and I really want to thank each and every one for being a part of the journey. What is really special about Spruce Meadows is what Marg and Ron have created. It is a place for family.”

In further efforts to serve its community this year, Spruce Meadows is pleased to welcome back its “Horses Jump to Give a Leg Up” program. Twenty Not-For-Profit organizations were each given their own life-sized fiberglass horse to decorate, and their new displays were unveiled on Tuesday to kick off the Summer Series. A summer-long silent auction will begin on the Spruce Meadows website, and will close during the ‘Masters’ Tournament. All proceeds will go towards supporting the participating organizations. In 2014, a total of $138,300 was raised to give a “Leg Up” to the participating local charities.

Other initiatives this year include spectacular new video boards, which have been deployed throughout the Tournament grounds. Add to the list the addition of new products available at three locations: the Spruce Meadows Shop (Riding Hall), Tack Shop (Paddock Park), & Jumpers (Lower Plaza). The Spruce Meadows ‘National’, presented by Rolex, also features the Spruce Meadows School Tours presented by Agrium, the Prairie Dogs presented by RE/MAX, Wetlands Education Program, Vendor Village, a Salute to First Responders, along with food, bands, music and the popular Name the Foal, presented by TELUS contest.

As Spruce Meadows celebrates it 40th anniversary, the competition will be fiercer than ever as this summer’s tournaments will be the last stop for many riders on their way to the Pan American Games in July. Held this year in Toronto, the Pan American Games will determine the final teams to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.

Ten-time Olympian Ian Millar of Canada has the Games in mind and will use the summer tournaments as preparation for his top horse Dixson. The pair won the richest purse in show jumping with their victory in last year’s $1.5 Million CP International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadow’s ‘Masters’ Tournament. Millar looks forward to getting back into the International Ring this week.

“It is always great to be here in Spruce Meadows. I think, by looking around, it is the biggest international entry ever,” Millar remarked. “The place is full. I think they jogged upwards to 300 horses today, so it will be very challenging, tough competitions and you could not have better show management to juggle it. They really know how to do it, and I know that they are working hard on the schedules as we speak to make sure that the days work properly.”

“So many fantastic things have happened here for my family and myself,” Millar recalled. “It started off as a cattle feed lot, and it doesn’t look like a cattle feed lot anymore! I have watched it grow and develop over the years. You are always amazed every time you come back. They are always coming up with a new project for a new improvement. They just never stop and it is arguably the finest facility in the world, which is an amazing thing for Canada and Alberta.”

Since Spruce Meadows opened, athletes from 57 nations have competed before nearly 10 million fans. Through the decades those athletes have been awarded more than $110 million in prize money made available through the commitment and support of its corporate partners, many of which have been involved with Spruce Meadows since its start in 1975. This year’s Summer Series will award more than $6.2 million in prize money throughout five weeks of competition.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist for the U.S., Beezie Madden, will also be in attendance this summer and will compete her top horses along with some young new talents.

“I enjoy everything there is about Spruce Meadows,” Madden declared. “I love riding in the International Ring. I have a nine-year-old named Breitling LS that I will be showing and the International Ring will be new to him this year, so that will be exciting. There is a lot of prize money and a lot of good competition. You can have clients and young horses, and they all go in fantastic rings. The grass is always nice to show on and the International Ring is fantastic. There are great crowds, so the atmosphere is really good. All of the horses are in good shape and we are excited to be here.”

As the Summer Series kicks off, the ‘National’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, hosts CSI 5* competition from June 3-7. In addition to the $400,000 RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, highlights include the $85,000 ATB Financial Cup, the $60,000 TransCanada Parcours de Chasse, and the $210,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup 1.50m Derby.

Following this week’s ‘National’ Tournament, the ‘Continental’ CSI 5* Tournament will run the following week from June 11-14, featuring the $85,000 Husky Energy Classic, the $126,000 Scotiabank Cup, the $85,000 Repsol Cup, and the $400,000 CP Grand Prix.

Following a week off, the summer competition continues with three more weeks in June and July. The ‘Canada One’ CSI 4* Tournament is next on the schedule on June 24-28, featuring the $126,000 Imperial Challenge.

The ‘North American’ CSI 5* Tournament will be held June 30 – July 5, featuring the $85,000 Progress Energy Cup, the $85,000 TD Cup, the $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the $85,000 Enbridge Cup and the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby.

Concluding the summer’s competition, the ‘Pan American’ CSI 4* Tournament, presented by Rolex, will run July 9-12 featuring the $85,000 Ashcor Technologies Cup and the $210,000 Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex.
For a complete tournament schedule, visit the Spruce Meadows website at www.sprucemeadows.com.

Based in Calgary, Canada, Spruce Meadows is the creation of the Southern family who built a Show Jumping complex at the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. It was in 1976 that the first Spruce Tournaments were held, with annual spectator attendances reaching over 50,000 by the end of the decade. Today, Spruce Meadows boasts one of the greatest outdoor equestrian venues in the world and offers an incredible experience for riders and fans alike. Spruce Meadows focuses on the organization and hosting of show jumping tournaments of unmatched quality for junior, amateur and professional athletes in a manner that reflects basic family values in a clean, green and welcoming environment that celebrates the horse and encourages the breeding and training of quality sport horses and the teaching and development of athletes. For more information on Spruce Meadows, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.

 press release

image: Ian Millar (Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services and Jennifer Wood Media)