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Wellington’s Mason Phelps Spearheads
National Horse Show Move to Kentucky
By Kenneth Kraus
He hasn’t been there for all of them - after all - the show
is 128 years old, but Mason Phelps, President of Phelps
Media Group International, has been a driving force with the
National Horse Show for over four decades. “Sometimes it
feels like I was there on day one,” Phelps laughed. “But
I’ve been involved for a long time, longer than I’d like to
admit; but I’ve never been as excited about an event as I
am about the Alltech National Horse Show this year.”
After a hundred plus year run in the heart of New
York City at Madison Square Garden, the nation’s oldest
indoor horse show has been somewhat nomadic for the
past decade, having landed on the Piers in New York for
two unsuccessful seasons following the departure from
Madison Square Garden and then stopping in Wellington
for four years before fnally landing in Syracuse, NY, four
years ago.
The initial year in Wellington, with Stadium Jumping
managing the event, and Phelps Media Group, handling
the promotion and media, proved to be a tremendously
successful event. The show, held over Thanksgiving
weekend, drew thousands of fans to what is now the Palm
Beach International Equestrian Center. “We ran out of food,
the porta-johns overfowed, and we were overwhelmed
by how many people took the National Horse Show to
heart that frst year,” Mason says. “That frst year was like
Woodstock in Wellington.”
So, what happened?
“They changed the date of the show, they started to
charge admission and the show died a fairly quick death
here in South Florida,” Mason admitted. “Not only that, it
was too far off the beaten path from the indoor shows to
stage the Maclay Finals effectively.”
The National then found a home in Syracuse, NY - not
a happy home - but it was a partnership that lasted for an
eventful three year run. Then, after numerous complaints
by a large segment of the National Horse Show exhibitor
base, Mason, along with the progressive thinking members
of the Board of Directors of the National Horse Show,
spearheaded the drive to fnally give this national equestrian
treasure a permanent home. The site they chose was the
Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.
“It was the logical and perfect place for the National,”
Phelps said. “It’s quite simply, one of the outstanding
venues in the entire world. Also, the excellent management
infrastructure that Hugh Kincannon has had in place for
years makes this a seamless transition,” he noted.
The Kentucky Horse Park, host for the recently completed
Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, also welcomes three
other important national championship events, the USEF
Pony Finals, the USHJA National Hunter Derby Finals and
the North American Junior Young Rider Championship.
Kincannon manages those events as well.
Phelps says that excitement for the new event in
Lexington, Kentucky, is like something he’s only seen once
before, at the International Jumping Derby in Newport,
Rhode Island. Phelps created a world-class competition
there and made his name as one of the more creative event
planners and promoters.
“I plan to bring that same excitement and enthusiasm to
Lexington for the Alltech National Horse Show. I’m very hopeful
that this show is going to be huge, absolutely huge,” Phelps
He has certainly gotten the folks at Alltech excited. Just off
their very successful title sponsorship of the Alltech FEI World
Equestrian Games, Alltech has come aboard as the title sponsor,
joining forces with the National, and creating the all new Alltech
National Horse Show, 128th edition.
Dr. Pearse Lyons, Founder and President, told us. “As Mason’s
team and Alltech partner for the 128th Alltech National Horse
Show, we are eagerly anticipating the rebirth of a new era for the
prestigious event. The storied horse show, the oldest in America,
will recapture the glory of Madison Square Garden, yet now it will
be more appropriately housed in the Horse Capital of the World,”
Lyons smiled. “After the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games last
year, there is a new fervor in the U.S. for equestrian sport, and
there could be no more tremendous encore event than the Alltech
National Horse Show.”
Susanna Elliott is the Corporate PR Manager for Alltech North
America. Her group, along with Phelps’ company, PMG, will
handle all of the publicity for the Alltech National Horse Show,
128th edition. “The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games created
a whole new fan base for equestrian sport in the United States
and even in Kentucky’s horse country, which has traditionally
been more in tune with thoroughbred racing,” she detailed.
“When the National Horse Show announced its plans to uproot to
the Kentucky Horse Park, there was a palpable buzz throughout
Mason Phelps has been a driving force behind the National
Horse Show
Photos by Kenneth Kraus