Calgary’s New Derby Day

first_img Horse Sport Enews SIGN UP Calgary, AB – The expression ‘good neighbours’ took on a whole new meaning as the Anderson and Selinger families of Calgary, AB, worked together to present the second annual $20,000 Derby Day held July 15 in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital.In 2009, the Selinger family’s St. George’s Stables was celebrating its 50th anniversary, and Frank Selinger and his wife, Selena, wanted to celebrate the milestone as well as honour the man who created it all, Frank’s father, Josef Selinger. They also wanted to have a fundraiser for the Alberta Children’s Hospital, having lost their two-year-old son in 2003. What better way than with a horse show?Having not held competitions since the early 1980’s, it was time for St. George’s to get back to its roots. The Selingers turned to their next-door neighbour, John Anderson, for advice as his competition organization business, Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, was running several successful tournaments at his family’s Anderson Ranch.“We decided that a 50th anniversary was a huge milestone in any industry, let alone the horse industry, and we wanted to do something to celebrate,” said Selena Selinger. “We also wanted to honour Frank’s father, and we knew we wanted it to be a fundraiser for the Alberta Children’s Hospital. We asked John, “How do we do this?” In the end, we decided to join forces and he helped us out.”Together they created the unique and special $20,000 Derby Day, a one-day only competition held on St. Georges’ expansive grass field. Using the officials, jump crew, and other personnel from Anderson’s ongoing Mid-Summer Classic III tournament, the competitors simply head next door to St. George’s Stables to compete in the $20,000 Derby Day.“The first reaction from everyone when they come to our place is shock – they can’t believe that it actually exists,” said Selena Selinger who herself rode two horses over the course which boasts all of the traditional derby obstacles including the dreaded devil’s dyke, a steep bank, a tabletop, natural liverpool, a dry ditch, a rolltop and huge logs. “The derby field is sort of hidden back from the road and you don’t even realize that it is there. Once the shock wears off, it is all about the spirit, the camaraderie, and everyone joining forces. Everyone realizes how long and tough the course is, and they are all rooting for each other. Everyone comes out with a big smile on their face no matter how many rails they had; it is a huge accomplishment to jump around a big derby course like that.”The competitors came in droves to support the initiative, and to test their mettle over a true Derby course, which are becoming harder and harder to come by in North America. Anderson also has another theory as to why competitors turn out in droves.“It is the week after the $175,000 Mercedes-Benz Classic Derby at Spruce Meadows, and everyone has derbies on their mind,” he says. A derby aficionado himself, Anderson most recently won Spruce Meadows’ toughest derby test in 2008 riding Gesine 36. “Derbies are my favourite thing in the world – they are my favourite type of class to compete in. The Calgary area knows all about the derby, and they love it. But derby competitions are usually only for the big grand prix riders, and we wanted to help the young riders out there learn to ride a derby course as well, and experience all of the thrills that go along with it.”Extremely popular is the only way to describe the day. In only its second year, the $20,000 Derby Day attracted 173 entries. Starting with the 1.10m Jumper Derby, Karter Duke and Jewel won over 46 other entries while the 1.15m Jumper Derby was won by Melissa Macdonald and Fate. Andrew More and Julio won the 1.20m Jumper Derby and Nicole Gergely was victorious in the 1.30m Jumper Derby riding Vianda. Finally, the youngest competitors stole the spotlight with the 1m Jumper Derby, which this year attracted the day’s largest starting field with a total of 57 entries. It was Maria McHenry and Understated who emerged victorious to end the day on a high note. The day concluded with podium presentations and, the next night, a huge celebratory party at Anderson Ranch, complete with a barbeque and a live country and western band.“We have been neighbours for well over 30 years, and it truly is a partnership between the two farms,” said Anderson, who represented Canada at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1986 World Championships where he placed eighth individually. “Everyone who grew up riding in this area competed at St. George’s at one time or another. I still have a picture of me with a fourth place ribbon that I won in a walk/trot class in 1972! It was a great way to honour St. George’s, which truly is the cornerstone of show jumping in Alberta.“Frank and Selena raise all of the funds and sponsors themselves, offering $20,000 in prize money over the five classes, and then we administer the tournament,” continued Anderson. “It really is a win-win situation, and it just shows how much more can be accomplished by working together. Best of all, all of the proceeds benefit the Alberta Children’s Hospital.”This year’s event raised $20,000 for the Alberta Children’s Hospital. More importantly, a good time was had by all.“It is great, it is a lot to work, but it is so fantastic to see so many smiles on everyone’s faces,” said Selena Selinger. “For days, even weeks afterwards, everyone tells us how amazing it was! And that makes it all worth it.”The $20,000 Derby Day at St. George’s Stables was held during the third and final of competition comprising the Mid-Summer Classic tournaments produced by Rocky Mountain Show Jumping. In August, Rocky Mountain Show Jumping will host two weeks of competition sanctioned by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). The CSI2* Rocky Mountain Classic I will be held August 18-22 while the CSI2* Rocky Mountain Classic II runs August 25-29 and features the Western Canadian qualifying event for the 2010 FEI Children’s Final. 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