You’d expect that in September Mother Nature would bring warm sunny days just perfect for Spruce Meadows to host its annual “Masters” Tournament. But no, instead Mother Nature has covered the Spruce Meadows showgrounds with a ½ foot of snow.
It’s bad enough that the Spruce Meadows staff has to deal with plowing the snow but instead there are fallen branches everywhere as well as no electricity or water on the grounds. The snow is so wet and heavy on the trees and leaves that the branches (even the large ones) couldn’t handle the weight.
Hopes were high on Tuesday, September 9th, when Spruce Meadows hosted its annual press luncheon assuring those present that on Wednesday the show would go on. Well, that was until the snow started up again and continued non-stop, dropping branches with one that fell right on a power line causing all the power to be shut down.
While the layer of snow has created a city of white that is beautiful, the timing couldn’t be worse but hopes are high that on Thursday the show will go on with a schedule that has attracted horses from across the world.
Some of the riders have flown in from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games which just concluded in Normandy, France. They left the warm weather behind and were surprised to be greeted by a wintery surprise. Canada’s Ian Millar, USA’s Bronze medal team member Kent Farrington and teammate Beezie Madden (who won the Individual Bronze Medal) are just some of the top riders who will be competing this week.
At the Media Luncheon Ian Allison, Spruce Meadows Senior Vice President, talked about the week ahead noting that 8 nations will be competing in Saturday’s $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup. Then on Sunday The CP International Grand Prix presented by Rolex (the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping) will offer an unprecedented $1.5 million in prize money.
Then Linda Southern-Heathcott, Spruce Meadows’ President and daughter of the founders, Ron and Marg Southern, took to the mike to express her gratitude to the media, her staff, the sponsors, the exhibitors and the spectators for their love and support of what the Southern family has built into a community happening.
“The first Spruce Meadows (which was started 39 years ago) offered $1100 in prize money. Now because of the support of the companies you see here we are ready for a magical week of great sport,” she commented.
She referred to her parents as Mr. and Mrs. Southern and thanked them for what they have built adding, “We respect what the athletes do and we try to provide them with the best possible platform. We also need to take into account our media, our sponsors and our fans.”
She culminated her speech saying this week there will be “great spirit, great pride and great sport. A special thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Southern to dream up a great place and the spirit that you bring and the encouragement you brought to us over the years.”
The snow has stopped falling and it does appear that the show will go on Thursday with revisions to the schedule. So be sure to visit the Spruce Meadows web site (www.sprucemeadows.com) and facebook page for the latest updates.
And stay tuned to this column which will focus on the daily events happening in the International Arena and around the grounds at Spruce Meadows all week long, with lots of photos outlining the action.