Rather that see an annual Kentucky equestrian competition scrapped for a second year, eventing fans raised more than half a million dollars in less than two weeks to keep it going, even if they can’t come to watch their favorite athletes.
The organization that puts on the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, Equestrian Events Inc., announced Wednesday that they are going forward with it after all due to “an unprecedented outpouring of public support and a grassroots fundraising effort.”
The competition, held in April at the Kentucky Horse Park, was canceled earlier this month because organizers could not guarantee that COVID restrictions would be eased enough for spectators. And without ticket sales, the event was in a precarious financial position.
But fans and the riders who compete at the event rallied. According to a news release, “a fundraising campaign was started by athletes and fueled by the grassroots effort of the broader eventing community, generating more than $550,000 in donations to run the event.”
While that’s only about half of what is needed, said EEI president Mike Cooper, “it is enough to convince us that the balance can be raised.”
EEI has formed a new partnership with the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation to raise the rest, with the support of U.S. Equestrian and longtime sponsors Land Rover, Mars Equestrian and Rolex.
“We applaud the efforts of so many organizers, fans, competitors, and sponsors, supported by Mars Equestrian, which will allow the (five-star) competition to continue forward in 2021. This event is an equestrian treasure we are proud to sponsor as we all look for safe ways to hold top level competition,” Geoffrey Galant, VP of Mars Equestrian, said in the release.
They plan to hold the regular Olympic-level three-day event without spectators alongside a new, lower-level competition April 22-25.
“Seeing the athletes, community, our sponsors, and these two organizations, the KHP Foundation and EEI, come together in a united way to allow (both events) to go forward despite the challenges presented by the pandemic is nothing short of remarkable. This will allow our athletes and horses aiming for Tokyo this summer the best opportunity to qualify and prepare,” said Bill Moroney, CEO of US Equestrian, in the release. “We extend a huge thank you to all involved, especially to our sponsors, for their flexibility and continued commitment to this event.”
U.S. Equestrian, which is the governing body for horse sport, will monitor the pandemic and if conditions allow, a limited number of spectators may be permitted, with those who had rolled over their 2020 tickets being given priority. Ticketholders also can still request a full refund.
Meanwhile, the non-profit Kentucky Horse Park Foundation is seeking donations for the event.
— to www.kentucky.com