GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Excitement filled the air Sunday, as horse riders participated in the Gulf Coast Winter Classics Grand Prix horse show competing for a $25,000 prize. Although COVID-19 stopped spectators from watching the event, it didn’t stop the fun.
Gulf Coast Classics Company President Bob Bell, said that the Grand Prix is the competition’s largest event, and it brings in around $40 million to the city. Bell also that it’s a fan favorite, but this year the seats are empty.
“On Sundays, we have our Grand Prix, and usually that is a giant event here,” said Bell. “We would have a couple thousand people here to watch, but unfortunately, the United States Equestrian Federation—that is a governing body of our horse shows doesn’t allow spectators.”
Bell said that there are more competitors this year than previous years, with 600 horses enrolled into the competition.
Caroline Cvitanovich said she has competed in the Gulf Coast Winter Classics Horse Show for the past four years.
“It’s really fun and organized here,” said Cvitanovich. “I’ve competed with these girls for a while now, so it’s fun seeing how far they’ve come and now far I’ve come too.”
Although she misses her family watching her compete, she doesn’t mind the silent crowd.
“It’s definitely different. The Grand Prix usually brings a lot of people in. People would park their cars all around the ring to watch. Cars would be lined up right next to each other. It’s nice that it’s quiet, so we can focus more.” said Cvitanovich.
The competition is from February 17, 2021- March 28, 2021.
Bell said that the organization is constantly checking to see if spectator restrictions are lifted and will update everyone if they are.
For more information on the Gulf Coast Winter Classics or to see a detailed schedule of events, visit their website HERE.