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Irish event rider Jonty Evans has described himself as “overwhelmed” after £63,259.99 was donated in the first 24 hours of his crowd-funding campaign, which aims to secure the purchase of his Rio Olympic ride Cooley Rorkes Drift (“Art”).

H&H broke the news on Wednesday evening that interest from buyers, particularly in America, had led to Cooley Rorkes Drift’s current owner Fiona Elliott considering selling the 11-year-old.

Jonty, who finished ninth at Rio last year with Art, has secured some funding towards the horse’s purchase so he can keep the ride and decided to start a crowd-funding campaign to attempt to make up the shortfall. He is aiming to raise £550,000.

The website www.jontyandart.com went live at 6pm yesterday (Thursday, 13 July) and £63,259.99 has been donated since.

“I am overwhelmed by the reaction to our campaign,” Jonty told H&H“The equestrian community is incredible — the kindness shown means so much to Art and I. We had one little girl of 10 years old from Ireland sending her pocket money because she loves Art.

“If we can now keep the word out there and maybe get some celebrities and companies interested in getting involved, then maybe we can get this over the line. I am so, so grateful to everyone — I wish I could reply to you all. Thank you.”

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Jonty has produced Art since he was five, first meeting Fiona when her lorry broke down and he stopped to help.

“I’ve always produced him with the idea that he’d be a big-time horse and always tried to be careful with him, so it’s gut-wrenching that he’s coming into his prime and I feel like maybe I can win a medal or be at the top end of a four-star — and all of a sudden that might get taken away,” he said.

“I hope and pray that people around the world will appreciate that Art and I are partners — we have come through life so far together and I hope that we can finish our journey together. At 11 years old he is entering his prime. This year’s European Championships in Poland, Badminton, next year’s World Equestrian Games in Tryon and of course the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 are all potential medal events for Art and I — but only if we can stay together.”

Jonty and Art have already been selected for Ireland’s European Championship squad, but Art will not be able to go if the ownership situation is not sorted out before the event, which runs 17-20 August.