A whole lotta horseplay

By Nicole Kobie

If the best in the world in soccer trekked to Calgary, how much would you pay to see them play? When hockey teams come to beat the Flames, how much do you pay for tickets? Well, the best in the world in show jumping come to town once every year, and admission is only five bucks.

Every year, Spruce Meadows brings in the best of the best to their gorgeous site just south of Calgary. Starting in early June with the National Tournament and ending in September with the Masters, Spruce Meadows features four major tournaments and many smaller ones.

While all the majors are worth your five bucks, the Masters is the most impressive. The tournament’s finale, the CN International Grand Prix, is the most expensive event in the show jumping world (with a $1 million purse) and therefore attracts the best athletes in the world, from England to Brazil. The top three ranked riders in the world right now–Ludger Beerbaum, Markus Fuchs and Rodrigo Pessoa–all came to Calgary last year and will again this year. Even the sport’s federation agrees, and last year named the Masters the best show jumping event of 2002.

The tournaments attract tens of thousands of spectators annually; the Masters usually tops out over 55,000, thousands more than even McMahon Stadium can seat. Aside from the jumping events, there’s also displays, shows and performing Prairie Dogs to check out. Though, if the world’s best show jumpers aren’t enough to keep your interest, it’s doubtful spaniels jumping through hoops will do the trick.

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