Jonty had set the deadline of last Thursday (10 August) to complete his campaign because of needing to travel to Strzegom, Poland for the event and the counter on the jontyandart.com website ticked over the £500,000 target just after 10am on Wednesday.
But this evening (Saturday 12 August) Jonty announced that he will not be competing at the event due to complications related to the transfer of payment and ownership of Art, and also the impact that the fund-raising has had on their preparations.
In a statement released by Horse Sport Ireland, Jonty said: “Unfortunately, however much Art and I want to go and challenge in Poland, time will not allow. The physical issue of paying for him is complex and will not be completed in time.
“I have spoken at length with Sally Corscadden, our high performance director, and she agrees that our preparation has been hampered due to the extreme efforts we had to go to in securing Art. I feel concerned that I might be seen to be letting my team mates down, but I have to look at the bigger picture, Art’s welfare and the impact on those around me. We have staged an exhausting campaign and are somewhat shocked that we have succeeded.
“In everyone’s interest, I feel that the best course of action is to take a little time to get used to things, to communicate with people and to plan what we do.”
Jonty started his crowd-funding campaign because his eye-catching performances with Art — including ninth at the Rio Olympics — had led to owner Fiona Elliott receiving huge offers for the horse from the USA. He secured some funding to buy the horse at a preferential rate, but was left with a huge shortfall, so set up a crowd-funding website to attempt to raise the balance.
The equestrian world took the cause to its heart and Jonty also captured the attention of the mainstream media. Helped by two lump sum donations of £150,000 and £100,000, Jonty defied expectations and managed to raise the target of £500,000 courtesy of donations from more than 6,700 individuals.
Horse Sport Ireland eventing high performance director Sally Corscadden said: “On behalf of Horse Sport Ireland we would like to thank all the amazing people who have given so generously to keep Jonty and Art together. They are a fantastic combination who have already made Ireland proud with their performance in Rio.
“It is inspiring to know that Jonty and Art are now secured for future teams and can aim for Tokyo. With this in mind we have agreed that the best course of action is for them not to travel to Poland, but to complete the deal to secure Art and put in place a suitable plan to qualify for the World Equestrian Games in 2018.”
Ireland only nominated six combinations for the European Eventing Championships (17-20 August) so the Irish cannot substitute a reserve and will only field five pairs in Poland next week.
More eventing news:
The remaining members of the Irish squad are Sarah Ennis (Horseware Stellor Rebound), Joseph Murphy (Sportsfield Othello), Michael Ryan (Dunlough Striker), Patricia Ryan (Dunrath Eclipse) and Austin O’Connor (Kilpatrick Knight).
Full preview of the eventing, dressage, showjumping and para European Championships in H&H magazine next week (issue dated 17 August).