Last week, under the lights of the Great Meadow arena at The Plains in Virginia, The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) awarded the first in a series of new honors to an outstanding Thoroughbred jumper competing at the Twilight Jumper series.
Lenny Hale, president, CEO and chairman of the board of the TRF presented rider Grant Chungo and his off-track Thoroughbred Ballinure (Parker’s Storm Cat x High Rolla) with the TRF—Outstanding Thoroughbred Jumper Award as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness about the worth of the Thoroughbred sport horse.
“It was such a great night,” says Lizzy Beer, TRF Mid-Atlantic development officer. “To have such a well-run show welcome Thoroughbreds with open arms, and to recognize their athleticism” made the evening a resounding success.
In front of an enthusiastic crowd, gathered outdoors on a perfect early summer evening, Ballinure and his young owner/rider paused after their performance to accept a trophy and pose for a photo with Hale. The pair had come up through the foxhunting ranks, Beer notes, and even trained with Olympian Joseph Fargis.
As the award was given to the young rider, and congratulations offered, Beer says the small ceremony served to remind attendees that the Thoroughbred sport horse is a valid and athletic competitor in any show ring.
Buoyed by the success of this first event, the TRF has enlisted support from the Burke & Herbert Bank of Virginia, which will sponsor a cash award to the next winner of the TRF-Outstanding Thoroughbred Jumper Award, Beer says.
The TRF awards will be bestowed upon the top OTTBs at the Twilight Jumpers at the Great Meadow Arena on June 24, July 29 and Aug. 12.
“The TRF decided to get involved with the Twilight Jumpers because it’s such a great evening, involving people from all disciplines,” says Beer, who notes that the ongoing TRF series is one more activity in the “avalanche that is leading us back to the greatest horse ever.”