Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift have won their first major title.
The pair won the Lycetts Grantham Cup CIC3* at Belton International Horse Trials in Lincolnshire yesterday (15 April).
Their victory comes eight months after £500,000 was raised to buy the horse in a successful crowdfunding campaign.
An emotional Jonty invited co-owner Jane Moss on stage with him to receive the trophy before extending the invitation to anyone in the crowd who had helped secure the “people’s horse”.
Jonty and “Art” scored a competitive 28.8 in the dressage to put them in contention in the 103-strong section.
They followed this with a clear showjumping and a fluid cross-country round over Stuart Buntine’s influential track, finishing in one of the fastest times of the day to add just 3.6 time faults to their score.
Piggy French and her 2017 Burghley runner-up Vanir Kamira finished 1.3 penalties behind to take second, with Gemma Tattersall and Pamero 4 in third.
“He was on it,” said Jonty, adding it was “fantastic to have everybody’s support”.
“We have had a really good weekend, all the horses have been great, we had two others in the CIC3* this morning who have never done a three-star and they both jumped round really well and it just seemed to set the tone.”
Jonty also praised the organisers, course-builders and designer for the weekend of competition.
“I would be happy to criticise when criticism was necessary, but what Stuart has achieved this weekend is probably slightly short of a miracle — a lot of us on Wednesday and Thursday didn’t think we would be coming.
“The ground has been exceptional and the courses were brilliant.
“I think it will have sharpened up the older horses and the riders, probably given the younger horses a lot of confidence, so I hope everyone has had a great weekend.”
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The Irish Olympian will head to the European Championships next week, having raised £500,000 through a four-week crowd-funding campaign
Jonty, who finished ninth individually aboard Art in the 2016 Rio Olympics, started a crowdfunding campaign to buy the horse after his former owner, Fiona Elliott, expressed an interest in selling him.
After securing some private funding, he started a campaign to make up the shortfall, which raised £500,000 in four weeks.
Don’t miss the full report from Belton in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out Thursday, 19 April