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Sports · June 6, 2021

2,000 horse-and-rider combos set for Upperville

Photo/Upperville Colt & Horse Show
Founded in 1853, the Upperville Colt & Horse show draws top amateur and professional riders to historic Grafton Farm along Route 50.
It’s going to be the best show ever. We actually oversold the number of stalls and had to put up an extra tent to add 54 more. It’s going to be a great week.
— Joe Fargis, Upperville Colt & Horse Show president
Event Basics
• What: 168th anniversary Upperville Colt & Horse Show

• Where: 9197 John S. Mosby Highway (Route 50), west of village

• When: Monday-Sunday, June 7-12

• Features: A wide range of competition for amateur and professional riders from all over the U.S.

• Horses: More than 2,000

• Distinction: The oldest horse show in U.S., founded in 1853

• General admission and parking: Free.

• Also: Exhibitors, vendors, food and beverages

• Expect: Heavy traffic and delays on Route 50

• Phone: 540-687-5740

• Website:
By Leonard Shapiro
For Fauquier Now

The massive tents are up and humming with the sweet sounds of hundreds of horses nickering in their stalls and preparing to compete in the Upperville Colt & Horse Show, celebrating a return to action after the 2020 event was forced to cancel because of COVID-19.

No one on the gorgeous grounds of Grafton Farm may be more excited about this year’s competition than Joe Fargis, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in show jumping who is now president of an event that dates back to 1853 and is the oldest horse show in America.

“It’s going to be the best show ever,” Mr. Fargis said in a recent interview. “We actually oversold the number of stalls and had to put up an extra tent to add 54 more. It’s going to be a great week.”

With more than 2,000 horse-and-rider combinations, it runs from Monday through Sunday, June 7-13, at the historic showgrounds on Route 50. It actually began 168 years ago as a one-day event, with only a few breeding classes, but has grown into a week-long extravaganza with classes for children, adults and families — amateurs as well as the sport’s finest professionals.

Mr. Fargis recalled that Upperville was “always a centerpiece. Everyone would come to see all the best horses.” Mr. Fargis, who grew up in nearby Vienna, has competed in just about in just about every Upperville hunter and jumper division and judged every jumping class.

Katie Monahan-Prudent, a long-time elite rider and Middleburg resident who has competed with hunters, jumpers, and Grand Prix horses at Upperville since the mid-1970s, remembers the “…unmatchable setting . . . . It’s not as formal as most shows . . . . People come out of the woodwork to go to Upperville.”

Now that many pandemic restrictions have been lifted, Mr. Fargis is anticipating big crowds and a thoroughly spectator-friendly week, including no admission or parking fees for one and all.

Competitors also will enjoy several improvements since they last visited, including updated water and electrical systems throughout Grafton showgrounds, new footing in the main hunter warm-up ring, and new Thoroughbred Incentive High Point prize money awards.

Also new this year is the $37,000 Upperville Power & Speed Stakes CSI 4* on Thursday at 1 p.m. This class will join other fan favorites, including the Welcome Stakes on Friday at 2 p.m.; Lead line divisions on Saturday afternoon featuring adorable children ages 1 to 6 (on adorable ponies, of course): and the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Saturday at 4 p.m.

There are other exciting classes all week that include side-saddle demonstrations and jumping, family and conformation classes. The week culminates in the $213,300 FEI 4* Upperville Jumper Classic on Sunday, June 13.

The writer, who lives near Marshall, retired in 2011 after decades as a sports reporter, columnist and editor at The Washington Post. He publishes Country Zest & Style magazine.

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