Equestrian Riders meet in Reddick for Olympic qualifier event

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB)-- UPDATE 11/15-- The Ocala Jockey Club International three-day event continued Friday, as riders took part in the dressage competition.

The event is a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Equestrian riders from all over the world have come to North Central Florida to participate, including English athlete, Liz Halliday-Sharp.

She spends her winters in Ocala and has participated in this event since its inception.

"For us, this event feels the most like a big international European event of anything we get in Ocala, Florida so it's always a destination for me and I think the horses get a great experience here. I think it's a great thing that they've done and we're lucky to have this event so close to home,” she said.

The event is expected the wrap up on sunday.
It's a fight for a spot in the 2020 Olympics.

Equestrian riders are in North Central Florida to compete for their ticket to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

Riders have gathered at the Ocala Jockey Club in Reddick, for the fourth annual international three-day event.

"It's an Olympic qualifier and they also offer other levels and it's also the big final event of the year for our sport here in North America,” said Lauren Kieffer.

Olympic equestrian rider Lauren Kieffer will be one of many riders saddling up and competing.

"It's a very important event qualifications wise to prepare you for next year. It's an extremely important event to be able to come to and complete successfully,” Kieffer said.

Riders will be competing in different events over the next several days.

For Citra based rider Sinead Halpin-Maynard, she's most looking forward to the cross country event.

"It's kind of the triathlon of horse sports so we've got the dressage open jumping, cross country and the real heart of the sport is cross country and I think the venue here is amazing because we've got a lot of flowing hills so it's a really nice education for there young horses and a great fitness school for the older horses,” said Halpin-Maynard.

As the athletes perform one by one, Halpin-Maynard said she excited to see what the weekend will bring.

"It just feels like a pretty special place to be and to see it all come to fruition this weekend is pretty exciting,” Halpin-Maynard said.

In addition to the competition, spectators can also participate in various tours of the club grounds.

These tours are available:
* Farm and Townhome Tour
* Stallion Tour
* OJC Clubhouse Tour
* Morning Nature Photography Tour.

Go to the Ocala Jockey Club website to sign up.