Crowd-fund for event rider Jonty Evans to buy his horse raises £63k in first 24 hours

Irish event rider Jonty Evans is crowdfunding to buy his Rio Olympics horse, Cooley Rorkes Drift, from owner Fiona Elliott. 

Jonty has ridden and trained Cooley Rorkes Drift (known as Art to his friends) since he was a five-year-old, he was bred in Ireland and bought by the current owners at the Monart/Going For Gold Sale in Ireland in 2010 in the stunning Monart Hotel in Southern Ireland.

In 2015, Art and Jonty were in the Irish team that won the Nations cup final in Boekelo in Holland and then went on to represent Ireland at Rio in the Olympics.

He was one of only three horses to jump triple clear (Michael Jung and Sam Griffiths being the others) and finished 9th at Rio.

Jonty says: "I was 44 years old and in Rio – it had taken a lifetime to get there, so there was no way I was going without my family – who have always supported me throughout my career.

"The support we received from the Irish nation during the games, was mind blowing – it was a really emotional week."

This spring, after huge effort over the winter, the aim for Jonty was Badminton.

"I had been once before in 2007, on a very genuine horse called Cregwarrior," explains Jonty.

"This time, we had left no stone unturned, Art was in the form of his life, I had worked harder than ever on my fitness and mental preparation – we were as ready as we could be."

"Art jumped a brilliant clear round on the third day, and so it was safe to say that we had a close shave with a top placing at Badminton 2017. I've taken time and paid attention to his training, it was evident at a young age that he had a huge role to play in the sport,

"I have, I hope, produced him to be a balanced and educated horse and in return he has given me his all, he is clever, talented and has an almost human brain.

"He’s my best friend – he is part of our family and my small team and my wife have put huge effort into helping me at every turn. Unfortunately, the success that Art and I have achieved has not gone unnoticed, and there have been some huge offers made for him to be sold.

"As you can imagine, from my point of view, selling my best mate had never entered my head. It's been an horrific few months wondering if he will be sold, and praying that a solution might be found.

"We have some funding pledged, but we are short of the goal, the only solution we have left is to try a Crowdfunding campaign."

Some of the people who have pledged their support already include Sandy Phillips, Mike Tucker, Andrew Nicholson, Ian Woodhead, Gareth Hughes, Sally Corscadden, Yogi Breisner, William Micklem and Ian Stark.

Jonty has been selected to go to the European Championships in Poland in a few weeks, but unless the ownership issue is sorted out, they won't be able to attend. 

"Without any doubt, Art is my horse of a lifetime, previously owning an event horse has been the privilege of the wealthy so I hope that our situation gives everyone a chance to get involved and support Art's journey," he says.