Horse Show Gets International Coverage - - The News for South Mississippi

Horse Show Gets International Coverage

Twenty-six of the top riders in the U.S. and around the world took jumps in Gulfport Saturday competing in the $77,700 Gulf Coast Winter Classic Master's Tournament.

"This is the best of the best," Winter Classic Producer Janet McCarroll said. "We have Canadians here, we have Americans here, I believe there's a lady from Germany by way of California who's in it and I think we have one from the Caribbean that qualified."

And now, the world will know. Two photographers videotaped the competition for the Fox Sports Network.

"We'll be international this year," Winter Classic Chairman Bob Bell said. "I mean, we're going to be in Fox Europe and Fox South America. They'll see it in Australia and so all of the entire world will see this Grand Prix."

The competition will air on the Fox Sports Network sometime during the first week of April. It's the first time in the four years the Winter Classic has been on the coast that it will receive this kind of exposure.

"It'll be great exposure for this event and I think great exposure for this area," McCarroll said.

Event organizers admit when the Classic started, they had a hard time convincing riders that Mississippi could host a quality show. Now, they're proving themselves, and they expect the television coverage will help even more.

"We want to take the event up a notch and that's what we did in doing this and having this beautiful Grand Prix field," Bell said. "There's only a few of these in the entire country and we have one here in Gulfport."

Event organizers hope the publicity will attract even higher caliber riders to next year's show, thereby making the event more elite, and hopefully, bringing more spectators to the competitions. The top prize Saturday went to a horse from Virginia named Everest. A Mobile rider and her horse placed second in the competition.

There was something else never seen before at the Winter Classic Horse Show this weekend. The U.S. Disc Dog Nationals held a regional competition at the Harrison County Fairgrounds. Forty-six teams competed-- that's dog and handler.

They came from states all across the southeast for the competition. The top five teams will earn a spot in the national tournament.

Organizers say the best part about it is that anyone with a dog can do this with a little bit of practice, and the dogs love it.

"It's something that they can run, jump, bite things with their mouth and so instead of biting your furniture or being destructive, they can run, jump and chase this Frisbee," Judging Director Melissa Heeter said.

Sunday at the fairgrounds, there will be demonstrations going on between 12 and three. The competition caters to dogs and handlers of all different skill levels.

By Amanda Jones

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