April 2019 - Something Special


Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National Horse Show returns to Southern California.

by Elaine Wessel

Under the management of Nilforushan Equisport Events, founded and run by the husband-and-wife team of Ali and Francie Nilforushan, the three-week Temecula Valley National Horse Show made its successful debut in 2018, and the competition is set to return this year with an additional week of riding on the docket. With the goal of enhancing the state of show jumping in California and attracting more exhibitors to the West Coast, the Nilforushans and their team are working to provide a memorable and rewarding horse show experience for all, whether from the back of a horse or a seat in the grandstand.

“For me, when I see these people and how much the show has affected them and really touched them, it makes me so happy to have helped give them that experience. I’m going to try to keep this feel and energy but allow just the right amount of growth to let world-class riders experience what we have here in this beautiful state,” states show organizer, Ali Nilforushan.

Mandy Porter and Milano won two grand prix classes during the 2018 horse show series. Photo: Elaine Wessel/Phelps Media Group

Spanning over 240 acres, Galway Downs will make its reprise at the location of the Temecula Valley National Horse Shows, with the first week, which has earned World Champion Hunter Rider status, taking place April 16-20. Following a short hiatus, the event will resume for three back-to-back weeks of riding, scheduled for May 15-19, May 22-26 and May 29-June 2, to conclude the series. A unique location ideal for equestrian events, Galway Downs in situated within Southern California wine country, and has proven to be a favored spot by 2018 attendees.

“Ali [Nilforushan] was talking about this show for a long time and I said, ‘I just have to be on the ground floor getting this thing off.’ We are jumping on world-class footing and the venue is top-notch. It’s really horse country, and it’s an atmosphere of horsemanship here. This show is going to take off. It’s been a pleasure to be here and I can’t wait for next year!” commented Olympic gold medalist Will Simpson during the 2018 event.

Will Simpson and Chacco P compete in the Audi Grand Prix Arena. Photo: Phelps Media Group

Since the inaugural festivities, the Nilforushan duo has overseen a series of improvements across the facility, including building a new longeing area, updating footing in all the rings and upgrading the sound system in the barns, among other advances. After receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews during the 2018 circuit, the competition will continue to feature its most popular programs, which include slashing class fees for young horses and off-the-track Thoroughbreds. Additionally, three levels of stabling will be offered for various prices, allowing exhibitors to customize their horse show experience and expenses. Weekly exhibitor parties and other events will add to the overall atmosphere, as entertainment and camaraderie is a focus of the Nilforushan management.

“I think they are trying to make it into something special. The prizes have been really nice, and they are putting great effort into making exhibitors happy. I hope more people see how everyone is liking the show and come to compete with us. It has been a great three weeks and the exhibitor party was especially fun! The social aspect, the competition aspect and the management is so service-oriented that it has made it the best experience,” notes Nick Haness, winner of the $10,000 Brookway Stables Hunter Derby in 2018.

The VIP Tent is situated for optimal viewing of events in the Audi Grand Prix Ring. Photo: Phelps Media Group

From pony riders to Olympic champions, exhibitors at the Temecula Valley National Horse Show are promised an event focused on horsemanship and a love of the sport, as the team behind the horse show is working to provide a special experience for rookie and veteran competitors, alike.

“Ali has a good attitude about making shows enjoyable for the exhibitors. He really wants to do the right thing and make the shows fun. Growing up, we used to have so much fun at shows. It wasn’t just about competing and winning; it was a lifestyle. I can see Ali trying to bring that back, which I really support,” reflected John Pearce, the 2018 $5,000 Moon Valley Nursery 1.35m Welcome Stake champion.

As the newest addition to the California hunter/jumper calendar, the Temecula Valley National Horse Show is looking forward to its second year and has more plans for the coming years with the Nilforushan team at the helm. With a new set of shows strengthening the state of California show jumping, the future of West Coast equestrianism looks bright.

Press release provided by Phelps Sports. For more information, please visit www.jump-nee.com.