Day one of NAF Five Star International Hartpury Horse Trials will go down in history, as the news broke that Irish rider Jonty Evans had hit his crowdfunding target to secure his Olympic ride, Cooley Rorkes Drift.
In a time-pressured situation, where Jonty needed the horse’s ownership secured to be able to go to the European Championships with the Irish team, the public pulled through to ensure Cooley Rorkes Drift, known at home as Art, has a forever future with Evans.
Evans set up the crowdfunding campaign with the aim of raising £500,000 to buy Art, the horse that he finished in 9th place with, and best-of-the-Irish team, at the Rio Olympics. Contributing to the crowdfunding was an online auction with various lots donated to the cause. With two large donations of £150,000 and £100,000, the rest of the money was generated from the public who generously backed the cause.
Competing in two classes at the international horse trials competition, Jonty was at Hartpury when the news of the crowdfunding success hit the headlines.
He said: “I feel overwhelmed by people’s support. I was riding in the young horse class at Hartpury today and so many people were wanting to say congratulations.
“There are other riders here who I know put money in and I’m hugely grateful. It’s just an amazing feeling to know that Art is at home and staying there. The next few days at Hartpury – I’m riding a horse called Clara M in the two-star. She’s a good horse and she could go well so I need to focus on her now and get the next job done.”
The first day of the competition has been all about the stars of the future as they take centre stage to qualify for Burghley in September. The day got off to a bit of a soggy start with torrential rain for the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse 4 Year Old class. Despite the best of the British weather it was a tough competition, with an early lead established by Bernie Wharfe and Penhills Candy Man. They continued their lead throughout to win on a score of 86.
In a very close field, with the top three all finishing on 86, Harry Meade took second place aboard Castle Howard Octavian whilst Austin O’Connor, and Money Talks claimed third spot – with all three clinching qualifying places.
It brightened up for the second class of the day, the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse 5 Year Old Class, in which Armee Stunt riding Tiger Attack took top spot on 88. Vicky Brake and Don’t Tell Tom slotted into second place on a score of 85, whilst hot on her heels was Micheal Jackson and Trevargo, scoring 84, to take third place.
The NAF Five Star International Hartpury Horse Trials runs from 9th to 13th August, offering world-class eventing up close and personal with the stars of the eventing world. Excitement is already building for Saturday, which features the pinnacle of the competition – the cross country day!
Admission on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th is free of charge. Saturday 12th entry is £10 and Sunday 13th tickets are £5 per person with free entry for under 16s. Parking is free across the whole event.
To stay up to date with the latest news and results, visit www.hartpuryhorsetrials.co.uk or Facebook @hartpuryhorsetrials