NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – When the 43rd annual American Gold Cup competition comes to North Salem’s Old Salem Farm in September, the town can expect a crowd of about 10,000 people, not to mention 600 horses.
“This is a perfect opportunity to showcase the northeastern part of Westchester County,” said County Executive Rob Astorino. “The direct economic benefit to the county is estimated at $6 million, not including the money spent in the area by people visiting.”
The American Gold Cup is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world of show jumping and serves as a qualifier for the World Cup finals, which will take place next in France.
Old Salem Farm’s head trainer, Frank Madden, said, “It’s a true honor for this stable and for the owners, the Hakim family, to have the American Gold Cup here for the second time.” Madden said that the sport of show jumping requires deep passion and the people at Old Salem Farm were equally passionate about hosting the Gold Cup.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward, who grew up in North Salem, said that when the Gold Cup came to Old Salem Farm, it was not only great for the sport and the industry, it was great for the community, too. “This community not only wants to embrace events like this, it’s where events like this belong,” Ward said.
Asked how Old Salem Farm compares to other venues where he has competed, Ward responded, “There are two Grand Prix’s left in the world that are not on my resume. One is in Aachen, Germany. The other is the Gold Cup. That gives you an idea of how important this event is to me.”
The main beneficiaries of funds raised at the event are the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and JustWorld International. ASPCA Director Valerie Angeli, said, “The ASPCA was founded in 1866 – to protect horses. So it represents 146 years of advocacy for horses.”
Astorino was asked whether the infrastructure of the town could handle the thousands of people expected, especially since Pequenakonck Elementary School is across the street from the stable.
“The Department of Public Safety will work with the town and the school district in coordinating traffic and plenty of parking,” he replied. “It will all be very orderly and professional. They know what they’re doing. This is not your first rodeo.”
The American Gold Cup competition takes place from Sept. 11 to Sept. 15. Highlights will be broadcast on Sept. 22 at 4:30 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network.