Organisers have announced record breaking prize money will be on offer at a new American three day event to be held over Thanksgiving weekend.
Ocala Jockey Club and Equiventures will offer $100,000 in prize money at the event which will be held in Reddick, Florida, from 24-27 November – the highest amount offered by any recognised event below the four-star level in North America.
The Ocala Jockey Club will also bid to host a CCI4* event in 2018. If approved, the CCI4* would be the second event at this level in North America and the seventh in the world, joining Rolex Kentucky, Badminton, Luhmühlen, Burghley, Pau and Adelaide.
The pressing need to inject more prize money into the sport has long been lamented by professional event riders around the world, and Ocala Jockey Club owners Erik and Pavla Nygaard have committed not only to hosting a world class event but also to offering a prize pot that will attract the sport’s top riders. As Thoroughbred racehorse owners and breeders, the Nygaards have also earmarked a portion of the prize money to reward the top-placing Thoroughbreds competing.
“The Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event has generated a great buzz in the U.S. eventing community and with international riders,” Erik Nygaard said. “We are excited about bringing top-level eventing to Ocala. This level of prize money fits with our desire to attract top eventing riders and will position the competition as one of the sport’s premier destination events for years to come.”
Equiventures CEO Richard Trayford believes professional event riders should be afforded the same opportunity to compete for a substantial amount of prize money like athletes in any other top sport. “Event riders need the opportunity to earn enough at a competition to make a living out of being a competitor,” Trayford said. “We want to contribute to the goal of having professional riders be focused on competing. We want to build an audience for this sport. It’s not about about how generous we are; it’s about a properly thought-out plan to improve the future of eventing by bringing in a bigger audience. The way forward is to modernize the sport and address the commercial aspect and demands.”
The event, organised by Equiventures, will feature 2012 London Olympics Eventing Manager Alec Lochore as Event Director and host a CIC3*, CCI2* and CCI* classes, which will unveil brand new cross country courses from world-renowned designer Mike Etherington-Smith and Olympian Clayton Fredericks. Four hundred acres at the Ocala Jockey Club property have been set aside to build a cross country course and arenas to host a competition of this magnitude.
Construction is well underway on the new eventing facility, with Tyson Rementer and Levi Ryckewaert building the cross country courses. Four-star show jumping designer Richard Jeffery is designing the stadium courses and also developed the facility’s site plan.