Langley's Thunderbird Present Park rides into fiftieth 12 months atop worldwide fame

High worldwide rider/horse mixtures will compete for staff bragging rights at FEI Nations Cup show-jumping occasion.

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Thunderbird Present Park in Langley is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this 12 months. And it’s doing it in fashion with a season packed filled with top-notch hunter and show-jumper equestrian competitions.

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Headlining the season is the $400,000 Longines FEI Leaping Nations Cup on June 4.

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Open to the general public, the occasion, which begins at 11 a.m., will see show-jumping groups from Canada, the U.S., México, Eire and Australia competing for prime bragging rights.

The FEI occasion can also be the third of three qualifiers for the Canadian, American and Méxican horse-and-rider mixtures for the Longines FEI Nations Cup Ultimate to be held in September in Barcelona.

Canada was third and fourth, respectively, within the two different qualifying Nations Cup occasions in México and California. In line with Equestrian Canada if Canada wins in Langley and México just isn’t second Canada will earn a visit to the finals. If Canada locations elsewhere the choice of who advances shall be primarily based on inserting/scores (variety of fault-free rounds).

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The stress to carry out nicely at Thunderbird, often known as “tbird,” is turned up as the ultimate in Spain are additionally a qualifying occasion for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Canada shall be fielding the robust, veteran staff of Tiffany Foster, Amy Millar, Erynn Ballard and Mario Deslauriers.

“The 4 riders which might be driving for us in Langley are not any strangers to stress. And I’d inform you it in all probability makes them higher,” stated legendary show-jumper Ian Millar who took over the position of chef d’equipe of the Canadian staff 4 months in the past.

Canadian show-jumper Mario Deslauriers, seen here on Bardolina, will be part of the Canadian team competing in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup on June 4 at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley.
Canadian show-jumper Mario Deslauriers, seen right here on Bardolina, shall be a part of the Canadian staff competing within the FEI Leaping Nations Cup on June 4 at Thunderbird Present Park in Langley.

“They speak about hometown benefit. It truly is a truth. It’s not that we don’t strive our hardest anyplace else, however there’s simply one thing somewhat bit totally different if you’re doing it on your residence crowd,” Millar added not too long ago over the telephone. “While you stroll within the ring, when you’re there, you’ll be able to simply really feel it. They need it so badly for you, for themselves, and the nation. And that simply drives you on much more.”

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Foster, a two-time Olympian who hails from Langley, is aware of the sensation of assist a Thunderbird crowd provides and she or he felt it once more not too long ago when she rode Northern Mild to victory within the $414,300 Main League Present Leaping Gand Prix in entrance of a packed stadium at Thunderbird on Could 27.

“Any time I’m in Canada it seems like residence. However once I’m in Langley, it’s actually my residence,” stated Foster, who shall be driving Hamilton within the 1.6-metre Nations Cup. “Every time you’ll be able to experience on your nation it’s an excellent honour, however I actually like to do it in entrance of my family and friends at Thunderbird. It offers you a lift for positive.”

Co-founded by the late George and Dianne Tidball, tbird will see 7,500 horses in addition to 22,500 opponents, trainers and grooms go by way of the gates throughout this 12 months’s season of 10 giant tournaments with a complete of $3 million in prize cash.

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Nearly 150 folks work on the grounds throughout competitions and an financial influence report by the Canadian Sports activities Tourism Alliance stated that, in the course of the 2019 Nations Cup at Thunderbird, the spending by out-of-town contributors, delegates, spectators and others, mixed with the expenditures of organizers, delivered $14.2 million in financial exercise to the Langley space.

“There’s some reality in that build-it-and-they-will-come from Discipline of Goals’ factor. You create a facility like that, and it enhances, stimulates and encourages the entire sport,” stated Millar, a two-time winner of the Present Leaping World Cup and Olympic silver medallist. “Folks get higher coaching, higher horses. It offers them a aim they usually rise to that. And that’s precisely what has occurred in British Columbia. The game may be very, very robust in British Columbia.”

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Canadian show-jumping team coach Ian Millar is a big fan of the Thunderbird Show Park facility but even a bigger fan of the people who work there to put on top-notch equestrian tournaments.
Canadian show-jumping staff coach Ian Millar is an enormous fan of the Thunderbird Present Park facility however even a much bigger fan of the individuals who work there to placed on top-notch equestrian tournaments.

Throughout his lengthy profession, which features a record-setting 10 Olympic Video games, Millar has been on present grounds all over the world. Tbird, he says, ranks up there with the perfect of them.

“I’d inform you that, nearly as good as the ability is, their individuals are even higher,” stated Perth, Ont.’s, Millar. “Dianne and George Tidball (who based The Keg restaurant chain) have been my heroes, they have been superb buddies, and I simply had such respect for them and for what they did and for the way they mentored their household and what their household is now doing with Thunderbird.”

The household Millar speaks of are George’s and Dianne’s 4 children: Kathy Tidball Robbins, Stephen Tidball, Jane Tidball and Laura Tidball Balisky.

“We glance after the opponents from the second they arrive,” says Jane Tidball, tbird’s CEO and board chairwoman whose daughter Laura-Jane Tidball is a prime show-jumping competitor. “Thunderbird is understood for its nice hospitality.”

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It’s additionally identified for innovation. The 12 rings have state-of-the-art footing and, this 12 months, it opened a horse wellness/spa centre with a veterinarian’s workplace connected.

“Like my mother Dianne would at all times say, ‘I would like folks to marvel as they drive by way of our entrance gates what’s new and improved at Thunderbird this 12 months?’ And we’ve got held this mantra now, for 50 years,” stated Jane, who took over the operation of the 100-acre facility in 2006.

Whereas prime worldwide riders together with Olympic champions have competed at Thunderbird, native opponents are additionally a primary focus for staff tbird as they’re the way forward for the game and paramount in supporting the big Decrease Mainland equestrian trade.

“The native riders are extremely necessary to us. We’ve been constructing riders from the grassroots to Olympic champions now for 50 years,” stated Jane.

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Thunderbird Show Park CEO and board chairwoman Jane Tidball says local riders are incredibly important to the facility and she is proud that Thunderbird has a 50-year history of building riders from the grassroots to Olympic champions.
Thunderbird Present Park CEO and board chairwoman Jane Tidball says native riders are extremely necessary to the ability and she or he is proud that Thunderbird has a 50-year historical past of constructing riders from the grassroots to Olympic champions.

Foster, who started as a 10-year-old exhibiting her pony at tbird and has since develop into the top-ranked feminine present jumper on this planet, says the excessive degree of competitors makes tbird the bedrock of the native trade.

“Bringing this sort of top-level competitors to B.C. I believe motivates folks to do extra. Thunderbird is propelling that ahead,” stated Foster, who’s within the midst of establishing a brand new residence coaching facility in Langley.

As they go about competing and coaching their horses on the tbird grounds, Foster and different boldface names together with Canadian Eric Lamaze, American legends Beezie Madden and Kent Farrington, and Irish rider Conor Swail draw the eye of younger riders seeking to catch a tip or two from their heroes as they work their horses.

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“It’s super-cute to see them watching,” stated Foster when requested concerning the followers.

Tiffany Foster says a big key to the 50-years success of Langley’s Thunderbird Show Park is that the facility has ‘horse people at the base of everything that they do.’
Tiffany Foster says an enormous key to the 50-years success of Langley’s Thunderbird Present Park is that the ability has ‘horse folks on the base of all the things that they do.’

The constructing of tbird right into a prime facility was the plan from the start.

“My mother and pa have been so insistent that we opened our eyes to the world. That we didn’t simply reside in our little bubble,” stated Balisky, who was an Olympian herself. “If we needed to go locations to search out nice folks, we did. They introduced nice folks in. They at all times introduced actually good judges and course designers in. Finally, folks adopted and got here and confirmed there due to the standard.”

When requested about what places a smile on her face when she is on the Thunderbird Present Park grounds, Balisky returns to her dad and mom.

“My mother and pa could be so proud of what’s going down right here,” stated Balisky, who operates the Langley coaching facility Thunderbird Present Stables together with her husband Brent Balisky. “The truth that we’ve got a Nations Cup, we by no means had one when my dad was alive (George and Dianne died in 2014). To have groups from international locations coming right here to compete towards one another at his place, he would have simply cherished it. That’s … what brings a smile to my face.”

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Having the perfect on this planet experience as much as your occasions is actually an indication of success, however Jane says what offers her satisfaction is seeing the combo of all ranges of equestrians on the market having fun with themselves.

“I believe it’s watching the entire scheme of issues that makes me joyful,” stated Jane. “The little children with pigtails smiling in the direction of the long run and the highest sport on the similar time. That’s nearly as good because it will get.”

Whereas the Nations Cup is a spotlight, the tbird season is packed filled with internationally acknowledged occasions, together with the $100,000 ONNI Group Grand Prix on Aug. 13 and the $100,000 ATCO Cup on Aug. 20. All occasions are open to the general public. Tickets might be bought at

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Originally posted 2023-05-31 21:24:01.