Several Canadian competitors experienced great success while competing at the six-week Vermont Summer Festival, running through August 13 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Traveling a short distance from north of the border, Canadian equestrian athletes have traditionally flocked to the annual Vermont Summer Festival to enjoy family-friendly competition spanning all levels amidst the scenic beauty of Vermont.
Trainer and 1996 Canadian Olympian Chris Delia of Oakville, ON, returned to this year’s Vermont Summer Festival following a five-year hiatus. He utilized the circuit’s six-week schedule and level of competition to prepare his student, Veronica Bot, 20, of Burlington, ON, for the 2017 North American Junior and Young Rider Championship (NAJYRC), held this year in Saugerties, NY.
“We always go off on little stateside adventures during the month of July,” said Delia, who owns and operates Chris Delia Stables in Burlington, ON. “Vermont has been a place that I and my clients love to return to. This year, our strategy was to find a venue that would bolster Veronica’s confidence, not tax the horses but remain challenging enough, and Vermont was absolutely ideal.
“Veronica had been competing pretty consistently all summer and we wanted to maintain that momentum going into Young Rider Championships,” continued Delia, 45. “I was really happy with how she performed in Vermont. She got a piece of a lot of the main prizes on offer.”
Bot’s success at the Vermont Summer Festival was highlighted by top five finishes in both the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix during week one and the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, presented by The Equinox Resort, during the second week of competition. The next week, Bot went on to earn team silver and individual bronze medals for Canada in the Young Rider division of the NAJYRC.
Making his Vermont Summer Festival debut in the jumper ring, Canadian competitor Sam Pegg of Uxbridge, ON, won the $10,000 New Balance Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, during week four. Pegg, 27, runs Ten Sixty Stables based in Uxbridge, ON, alongside his brother, Michael Pegg, and their business partner, Basheer Khan. Pegg made his U.S. competition debut at the age of 19 under the direction of California-based hunter rider, John French. He then turned professional and spent six years working for Kris Cheyne of Kirin Farm in Kansas City, MO, before returning home to Canada.
“This was my first time crossing the border with my own group of horses and I was really pleased with the immediate results,” said Pegg, who grew up riding with Neil Badcock of Standalone Farms in King City, ON. “This place is beautiful and we don’t always see this kind of scenery back home. But more than that, the staff are all friendly and the show itself is really relaxed, but still competitive.”
Competitors and trainers weren’t the only Canadians to settle in at this year’s Vermont Summer Festival. Canadian Olympic individual silver medalist Michel Vaillancourt acted as course designer in the grand prix ring during the fourth week of competition. Originally from Saint-Félix-de-Valois, QC, Vaillancourt, is a familiar face at the Vermont Summer Festival, headlining an impressive roster of international course designing talent.
“Having a favorite horse show depends on a lot of things like caliber, environment, management and even weather,” said Vaillancourt, who earned high praise as the course designer for the 2015 Pan American Games held in Toronto, ON. “But, I do have my favorites and Vermont is one of them.”
It’s easy to see why. For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont for great competition in an ideal summer setting. Offering more than $750,000 in prize money over the course of its six-week run, the Vermont Summer Festival is New England’s largest hunter/jumper competition as well as the state’s richest sporting event based on purse. Outside the show ring, exhibitors are immersed in the charm of Vermont's shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.
Competition at the 2017 Vermont Summer Festival will run for one more week from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children with 100% of all gate proceeds benefiting the Manchester Community Library, Meals on Wheels of Bennington County, and the Rotary Club of Manchester.
For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.