Tiger King, poetry recitals and fabulous cakes: equestrian stars raise thousands for NHS

  • Leading names in equestrian sport have raised more than £87,000 to support the NHS in a week — and the total is still rising.

    Top eventers, dressage riders, showjumpers, jockeys, polo players and personalities from across the equine and racing worlds baked, planked, ran, painted and showcased their “hidden talents” for Equestrian Relief.

    The initiative was the brainchild of the organising teams behind Bolesworth and Liverpool International horse shows.

    The eventers came out on top, with world champion Ros Canter also taking the individual win.

    The team of Ros, Oliver Townend, Zara Phillips and Ben Hobday won all bar one of the challenges, with Oli Bell and Rachel Lugo securing #Teamracing’s win in the artistic phase.

    Monday night’s (13 April) final was on hidden talents, which was again won by the eventers. Ben Hobday became the Tiger King’s Joe Exotic and showed off his skill as a “tiger” handler, with the help of Shetland pony Stevie.

    Oliver Townend receited a poem by Christopher Curtis, albeit with a few tweaks to include Geoff Billington into the story.

    “It’s been a very hectic few weeks, but it’s been a huge team effort and everybody’s been working very hard behind the scenes,” said Nina Barbour, Bolesworth managing director.

    “It’s been an overwhelming success and I’m quite touched with how the equestrian world — from every angle — has come together and put in a huge effort. The absolutely fantastic result is, as I had hoped, that we’ve raised a huge sum of money for the NHS Charities Together crisis Covid-19 fund, which was the sole aim.”

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    She added she has been “touched by the generosity” of everyone who has donated prizes, and the time and effort that has been put in by the equestrian stars.

    The challenge has raised £87,313 (£95,027 including gift aid) of the £100,000 target — double the amount the organisers originally hoped to raise. The campaign officially ended last night (14 April) and the page remains open for any last-minute donations. The accompanying auction has now closed, with the amount pledged standing at more than £160,000.

    To donate, visit www.equestrianrelief.com

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