About The Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic
“I dreamed of having an equestrian exhibition such as what I saw in Europe.”
– Laddie Andahazy, Founding Father of the Cleveland Grand Prix, July 25, 1965.
While a charity horse show at the Cleveland Metroparks Polo Field had been a favorite event with Clevelanders since 1949, the concept of a grand prix jumping competition in the United States evolved after Clevelander Laddie Andahazy, a Hungarian immigrant, was inspired by the high-level riding he saw at the 1936 Olympics in Europe. As director of the Lake Erie College riding program, he researched show jumping courses and jump construction in his European travels and presented the information to a group at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club in Gates Mills, Ohio.
Andahazy’s presentation captured the attention of D. Jerry Baker, a successful equestrian with the U.S. Army Team and manager/trainer for J. Basil Ward in Cleveland. Baker approached fellow Clevelanders Chuck Mapes and Leah Goetz (Stroud) about organizing a grand prix, raising $3,000 to finance the event. The Cleveland Grand Prix, the culminating event of the Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic, was born.
On July 25, 1965, 29 horses and 20 riders competed in the first North American show jumping grand prix. Flags from six countries flew, but the winner was the United States’ Mary Chapot on her mare, Tomboy. She received $1,200 of the $3,000 purse.
According to William Steinkraus, five-time Olympian, the Cleveland Grand Prix organizers played a critical role in the development of the United States domestic show-jumping sport which led to the World Cup Finals in Baltimore in 1980 and the highly successful 1984 Olympic equestrian program in Los Angeles.
With more than 70 grand prix wins under his belt, retired world-class show jumper Rodney Jenkins dubbed the Cleveland Grand Prix the founder horse show of the grand prix circuit.
Today, the purse for the Cleveland Grand Prix has grown to $50,000. The show attracts over 600 horses from 30 states and multiple countries, employs 25 during the 11-days, contributes nearly $3 million to the local economy and attracts around 10,000 spectators.