Jersey Fresh takes another jump up

By Nancy Jaffer
March 6, 2016

Tailgating has become increasingly popular at the Jersey Fresh International. (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

The state is still in the throes of winter, but work has been under way for months on the May 11-15 Jersey Fresh International, which is an Olympic selection trial this year.

It’s time to start making plans to attend New Jersey’s largest three-day event. The schedule includes not only the 2- and 3-star CCI and shorter CIC competitions, but also is adding an advanced horse trials division.

Regulars who compete at Jersey Fresh include Pan American Games gold medalists Boyd Martin, Philip Dutton and Lauren Kieffer, as well as such big names as Michael Pollard and Buck Davidson. No wonder the theme for the tailgating at the water jump complex this year is “Stars, stars, stars.”

The event at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown was upgraded markedly in 2015, spurred by a grant of $25,000 from former U.S. eventing team veterinarian Brendan Furlong’s B.W. Furlong & Associates. The amount has been raised to $30,000 for 2016, with much of it going for prize money. Brendan said his son, Adam, is trying to get a couple of veterinary suppliers in to contribute money as well.

Explaining his commitment to Jersey Fresh, Brendan said, “New Jersey was very instrumental in the sport of eventing in the U.S.,” citing its origins going back to the Essex Horse Trials in the 1970s.

“There’s a long tradition of eventing in the Garden State, and it’s a great date on the calendar,” said Brendan of Jersey Fresh, noting the competition is a prime destination “for  horses to move up to the 3-star level after their winter campaign in Florida.”

Also, it’s often a destination for horses who for some reason “don’t make it to the Rolex Kentucky 4-star in April, or who don’t finish Rolex,” he pointed out.

As an example, he noted that last year, after Buck was not having a great go at Rolex with Ballynoe Castle RM, he pulled up and came back to win the 3-star CCI at Jersey two weeks later.

The popular winner of the CCI 3-star at Jersey Fresh last year was Ballynoe Castle RM, ridden by Buck Davidson. (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

“I would like to see more people in the New Jersey eventing community (commit) to make it a destination event. It has grown a lot, and they generally have a good entry. It’s just branding it and getting it to be one of those events that ultimately could be synonymous with a promoter or a sponsor,” Brendan observed.

He doesn’t think obtaining a title sponsor for this year is realistic, but he would like to see it happen next year.“I’m hoping that each year we can make it a better and better event,” Brendan commented.

Lisa Mackintosh is all in on that.

“We’re building on a lot of the things we added last year and stepping it up this year,” said Lisa, a member of the event’s organizing and steering committees, noting putting the VIP tent in the main arena, where riders came through on cross-country, was quite a hit.

She explained the vendor area is being moved to a prime location between the grand prix ring and the cross-country course. The number of vendors is being increased and the quality is getting boosted.

Meanwhile, efforts are continuing on the campaign to improve footing at the Horse Park. Allyson Jeffery, who is heading the footing committee, said a $20,000 bequest has come through on that front. The total raised is now $35,000, but that is only one-tenth of what is needed. She is working toward finding a major donor who can contribute to the footing fund, since a new surface will benefit not only those competing at Jersey Fresh, but also all the other shows for a variety of breeds and disciplines that are held at the park.

Those interested in being a vendor for Jersey Fresh may contact Lisa at ljmackintosh@earthlink.net, while anyone interested in tailgating should email shelly.liggett@gmail.com. Volunteers also are needed. For more information, go to jfi3d.com.

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