New top-level arena a coup for equestrian sport in California

Work is about to start on the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park's new Grand Looke Arena.
Work is about to start on the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park’s new Grand Looke Arena. © Blenheim EquiSports

Construction of a new grand prix arena at The Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano in California is about to get under way.

The Grand Looke Arena is being constructed on the east side of the Oaks International Grand Prix and Ortega grass fields, and will comprise a sand and fiber mix.

The Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park has been managed by the Ridland Group since 1998, with its Blenheim EquiSports event management company producing horse shows at the venue. Late last year it was announced that The Ridland Group had entered into negotiations with the city of San Juan Capistrano to manage The Riding Park for the next 20 to 30 years. The city had sought bids from potential facility managers who would commit to the completion of about $7 million in environmental improvements.

The 40-acre Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park includes the largest expanse of grass fields for show jumping in the United States.

Blenheim EquiSports CEO Hillary Ridland said the new arena’s footing is the same as that used at The Las Vegas National Horse Show. “We received very positive feedback from riders and trainers in Las Vegas, regarding this world-class footing.

“Jumper riders have expressed a desire to have more options when it comes to footing and we have been listening,” Ridland said. “The addition of the Grand Looke Arena gives Blenheim more flexibility to hold featured competitions on the grass or the sand, beginning in 2022,” Ridland said.

Construction is expected to be completed before the first show of the season, the Blenheim Spring Classic I, from March 30 to April 3.

The Ridland Group’s management proposal included an extensive engineering plan that would address the necessary environmental changes and prevent contaminated water from running off into the nearby San Juan Creek.

“We have secured the funding to complete the needed water infrastructure work and look forward to continuing to make The Riding Park better and even more accessible for the community as a whole,” Ridland said.

“We’re committed to being at the forefront of making the facility and equestrian sport as environmentally friendly as possible.”

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