Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift are to make their first competitive appearance in England since their future as a combination was secured.

The Irish rider and “Art” will compete in the CCI3* at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (13-17 September).

“I’m delighted to be riding Cooley Rorkes Drift at Blenheim this year,” said Jonty. “It’s a stunning venue and will be a fantastic competition. We are particularly excited as it will give ‘Art’ a chance to meet so many of the people who kindly contributed to his purchase.”

Jonty managed to raise £500,000 to buy his Rio Olympic ride in an amazingly successful crowd-funding campaign, launched after interest from potential buyers had led to Art’s owner Fiona Elliott considering a sale.

The campaign reached its fundraising target on 9 August but the pair did not compete at last weekend’s European Eventing Championships owing to complications related to the transfer of payment and ownership of Art, and also the impact the fund-raising had had on their preparations.

International competition

As well as the CCI3*, the weekend features the final of the Event Rider Masters series and a CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-olds.

Among the other big names entered are Zara Tindall, who has a horse in each of the three international classes, Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt, who has won here five times. Pippa has four horses entered in the three classes, while William is due to bring two.

Mark Todd, Blyth Tait, Andrew Hoy, Tina Cook, Ros Canter, Oliver Townend and Gemma Tattersall are all also due to compete.



Event director Mandy Hervieu said: “We have absolutely outstanding entries this year, proving what a world-class event SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials is. The stage is set for three very exciting competitions – and, with two days of cross-country (Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 September), it should be a real feast of top-class sport for spectators.”

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