Thursday, January 20, 2011

National Horse Show moving to Lexington from New York

The National Horse Show is moving from New York to Lexington, Kentucky later this year, according to organizers.

Mason Phelps, the show's president and CEO, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that a contract with the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington should be signed in the next few weeks.

Horse Park Director John Nicholson said the show will be held at the Alltech Arena, the park's new $40 million indoor complex. Nicholson says the move confirmed that Kentucky is a center for sport horses and helps justify the millions of dollars spent to upgrade the park before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games last fall.

The National Horse Show started in the 1880s at Madison Square Garden in New York City, but most recently has been held in Syracuse, N.Y.

The show won't be on the same scale as the World Equestrian Games, but Nicholson said he expects several thousand people to participate and thousands more to attend.

It left Madison Square Garden due to financial issues and for the last eight years has been held as part of the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament. However, organizers say that relationship ended badly.

Phelps said the show's board members were impressed by the horse park's new facilities. "The National Horse Show is looking to have its own identity and not have a shared identity in Syracuse," Phelps said. "I think we feel like we're going to have a permanent home." In New York, the show was as much a society event as a sports competition, and Nicholson said he wanted to restore the glamour to it. "It will be different from downtown Manhattan, but it will have a panache all its own," he said.

"There's never going to be another Madison Square Garden," Phelps said. "But as close as we can get, we're going to bring back all the pomp and circumstance we can."

Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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