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A free ride, courtesy of Langley’s Thunderbird Show Park

50 free weeks of horse showing kick off at April season opener
Holly Grayton accepts a free show entry at the April Season Opener from tbird CEO Jane Tidball and tbird President Chris Pack. (tbird/Quinn Saunders)

For professional Holly Grayton, the start of the 2023 show season at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley will forever be synonymous with a big win – in the show office!

She and her husband Alex Grayton own and operate Grayton Farms out of Calgary and migrate to Langley each year, compiling a lot of entries for their stable.

At the April Season Opener, they’ll have one less entry to pay for.

Holly’s mount Baron Genius will compete for free, thanks to a new initiative to mark Thunderbird Show Park’s 50th Anniversary: tbird Picks Up the Tab.

READ ALSO: Thunderbird Show Park celebrates 50 years in Langley

Every Friday during each of tbird’s 10 major show tournaments, five exhibitors will be chosen at random to receive a free entry at the horse show. Throughout the course of the season, tbird will pay for 50 entries total.

This week, in addition to Grayton, Jordyn Wilkins (Cornet Flight), Riley Bate (Danton), Austyn Thorsteinson (Notable) and Heidi Seidelhuber (Shadowfax) were winners of the April 21 draw.

The group includes a range of professional, junior and amateur riders across a variety of divisions: Wilkins is entered in the Children’s Jumper division; Bate will contest the Low Children’s Jumpers; Seidelhuber is entered in the Small/Large Working Hunter; and Thorsteinson is set for the Short Stirrup.

Grayton and Baron Genius will compete in the Open 1.20m this week.

“It’s just so nice,” Grayton said. “Baron Genius is a horse I’ve had forever, and sometimes I feel guilty bringing him on the road, because it’s just for fun. When tbird picked up the tab this week, it took all that guilt away.”

Every horse entered at tbird is automatically added to the draw each week.

RELATED: Tbird in Langley remains a Tidball family affair

On Friday, there was just one clear round in the $1,500 New Stride TB Jumper Challenge.

Maya Pedersen (CAN) and From the Ashes executed their two rounds on a confident, forward rhythm to secure the victory in the .85m competition, exclusively for Thoroughbreds.

The winning time was 37.83 seconds. Kim Boyle (USA) and Split the Difference finished second with a single rail in the jump-off (4/31.25). Mikayla Lippert (CAN) and Nevada secured third with five faults in the first round.

Last year, Pedersen and Phoenix finished second in the New Stride TB Jumper Challenge Finale at tbird.

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