Breaking Attendance At The 119th National Horse Show In Wellington
Wellington, Florida --- December 2, 2002 --- After being held
indoors for 118 years at Madison Square Garden (with the exception
of six years at the Meadowlands in New Jersey), The National Horse
Show concluded its 119th year yesterday at the spacious, outdoor
show grounds of The Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington,
Florida. The National, founded in 1883, is the oldest and most
prestigious horse show in the U.S., bringing together the best
horses and riders in the country.
During the last six years, attendance at the Madison Square Garden
location had dramatically deteriorated, particularly after 9/11.
The social cachet that had once been associated with the show
had for some reason begun to lose its luster. Add to that the
inability to secure a long-term, economically feasible contract
with the Garden, and, by the spring of 2002, the continuing existence
of The National was in jeopardy.
the rescue, Gene Mische, Chairman of The National as well as Chairman
of Stadium Jumping, Inc. -- Mr. Mische made the dramatic decision
to move The National to an outdoor venue, far away from the New
York metropolitan area, and to break with the shows longstanding
there were skeptics, the skeptics have now been proved wrong.
The crowds came back, the social set was out in full force and
the horses and riders were shown at their best in the flawless
show rings of The Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club.
The 119th National Horse Show began on Tuesday, November 26, 2002
and ended on Sunday, December 1, 2002. With attendance topping
50,000 for the six-day show, parking often went into an overflow
phase and show programs were sold out by the fourth day. Most
remarkable was attendance for Friday nights performances
beginning at 7pm: over 13,000 packed the stands to watch hunters,
jumpers, dressage horses and Friesians; and these loyal fans stayed
until well past midnight so as not to miss the last jump. On Sunday,
the shows last day, over 15,000 watched the many competitions,
concluding with the $100,000 National Horse Show Jumper Championship,
won for the second year in a row by Olympian Lauren Hough.
Sponsors The Palm Beach Post, Lexus, BET, Adequan and Kilkenny
Insurance were gratified to have supported this groundbreaking
Wellington, Florida has long been considered the equestrian capitol
of the U.S. by those in-the-know. Now, with the overwhelming success
of The 119th National and the publics apparent interest
in the horse world, it is expected that The National will return
to Wellington for its 120th year.
It is estimated that the six-day show added $12 million to the
revenues of Palm Beach County. Coupled with the half-billion dollars
per year otherwise contributed by the Palm Beach County equestrian
community to Palm Beach Countys revenues, it is clear that
the equestrian business represents an important part of the community.