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Organizing the Social aspects of this year’s AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular is MASON PHELPS, JR.

For most people, being named to a U.S. Olympic Team and being named horseman of the year would be a highlight of a career. For Mason Phelps, it was simply a start. In 1968, Mason was honored by the USCTA as its Horseman of the Year, and his mount, West Country, was the USCTA Horse of the Year. The USET selected Mason to its five-rider squad for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Despite this and other success as an eventing rider, Mason had yet to take his first step toward establishing his real claims to fame in the world of equestrian sports. Far beyond his abilities as a horseman, what sets Mason apart is the scale on which he does things and the style that he brings to all of his projects. It is the magnitude of his projects and the pizzazz with which he does them that makes Mason unique. Few people combine intelligence, diligence and vision the way Mason does. The style and energy he brings to projects virtually guarantee success. If ever there was a ‘can-do’ person, Mason is it. After a stint in the US Army, Mason moved to Rhode Island where he started the New England Medal Finals, an event still of great significance in New England. He then made the equestrian world stop and say “wow” for the first time in 1976 when he established the American Jumping Derby at his Glen Farm in Newport. As an equestrian competition, the Jumping Derby was unlike any other, combining some of the natural-type obstacles and challenges Mason had faced as an eventer with a show jumping course. The Derby was unique among show jumping events. There was no event like it. For the riders, it was a fun challenge and the rewards for winning were always the best. Mason scheduled huge parties every night during the Derby. Often the parties took place on his 200 acre farm or on massive yachts in Newport Harbor. Wherever they took place, the parties were always spectacular. As the years went by, the Saturday night party evolved into a major event rivaling the Derby itself. "The Newport Round-Up" was, "Like having Disney World in your own back yard," one guest once said. "Being at the Round-Up was like being in fantasy land. "The first Round-Up was a Taste of Texas with different corners of the property set up as different parts of the state of Texas. The menus, the bars, the settings, the costumes all combined to give guests the feeling of visiting a different part of Texas. Big name entertainment and celebrity guests added to the Round-Up experience. Over the years, the Derby and the Round-up attracted such notables as Doc Severinsen, Andy Warhol, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Anjelica Huston, and her father, legendary film director John Huston who sat and closely watched each horse jump the Sunday Derby course just three days before he died. After 13 years of running the Derby, Mason decided it was time to move on and he moved from Rhode Island to the Palm Beach Polo Club. Before ending the Derby in 1988, Mason decided to go out the way he usually does things--with a bang. Although he had not competed in many years, he decided he'd ride in the final Derby. On the last Derby's final day, there were about 20,000 people on hand. When horse show announcer Peter Doubleday announced that next in the ring would be Mason Phelps, it became quiet. For the next three minutes, the crowd watched in silence as Mason mastered the world's most challenging show jumping course. He cleared 29 of 32 jumps and elicited wild cheers from the crowd. Mason had done it and it was time to move on.

In the mid-1990s, Mason was asked to chair the USET's annual fundraiser at Wellington. From that point on, his life and life at the Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival were changed forever. For Mason, there have always been only three ways to do things -- big, bigger, and biggest. He brought in big-name entertainment -- The Village People, Lynn Anderson, the Pointer Sisters, Donna Summer, David Clayton Thomas, Gloria Gaynor, and Grace Jones. Reprising his Disney-like settings at the Newport Round-Up, Mason created Denim and Diamonds and brought guests to "the Old West," "the Big Apple," “the Circus”, and finally in 2000, "The Olympics." Mason transformed successful annual fundraisers, which generated $50-100,000 a year to the USET into mega-events which wound up as one of the Team's key sources of income. Mason's final Denim and Diamonds in 2000, netted more than $400,000 profit for the USET, all of which went to support the Team’s competition and training programs. Once known for his flamboyance and playboy lifestyle, Mason is now respected as the person to go to if you want a big project done well -- and with a bang. And so this year Mason continues to organize the party under the tent for the AHJF Hunter Classic, an event that brings in the best of the best!


2001 USET Board of Trustees Former three-day and hunter/jumper rider American Hunter Jumper Foundation New England Horseman’s Council Equestrian Aids Foundation Board of Directors Former organizer of International Jumping Derby show jumping competition 1976-1988 Board of Directors, Show Jumping Hall of Fame1968 USCTA Horseman of the Year1968 Alternate, U.S. Olympic team

Tickets to the Winter Equestrian Festival are available by phone at 793-JUMP or at the gate. Admission is free on Wednesdays. Children 12 & under are free all days. Senior admission is $5 every day. Adult admission is $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. Parking is free..

Winter Equestrian Festival Dates:

(Each week runs Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8:00 AM)

Bayer Gold Coast Classic - January 29 - February 2
Wellington Dressage – January 30 – February 2
Kilkenny/ICH Internationale – February 5 – 9
Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular – February 12 – 16
Florida Dressage Classic –February 13 - 16
Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters – February 19 – 23
Tommy Bahama Palm Beach Open – February 26 – March 2
Cosequin Wellington Finale – March 5 – 9
Zada Enterprises, LLC WEF Dressage Classic – March 13 – 16


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