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Cancellation U-turn: Kentucky five-star to go ahead after crowdfunding raises $550,000

The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event five-star will run this year (22-25 April), after a grassroots fundraising effort persuaded the organisers to reverse their decision of last week to cancel the showcase class.

“The uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic placed us in the financially impossible position of having to run the five-star event without spectators, a situation that left us no choice but to cancel the five-star for 2021 in order to preserve it for many years to come,” said Mike Cooper, president of the company which organises the event, Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI). “We are humbled and honoured by the response of the eventing community as they’ve stepped up in a mind-blowing way enabling us to go forward.”

The crowdfunding was started by Brian Murphy, husband of five-star rider Sara Kozumplik Murphy, and an initial target of raising $750,000 (approx £550,000) by the end of Sunday (7 February) was set. The deadline was then extended to the end of yesterday (10 February) and the effort has so far generated more than $550,000 (approx £400,000).

“While that still leaves us short of the amount needed, it is enough to convince us that the balance can be raised,” added Mike. “We are now, with the assistance of the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, committed to going forward with the five-star.”

A press release said the event would run in a new partnership between EEI and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, combined with the support of US Equestrian and long-standing sponsors Land Rover, Mars Equestrian and Rolex.

The event will also host a CCI4*-S, which EEI said would potentially go ahead – alongside other competitions – behind closed doors when they announced the cancellation of the five-star last Tuesday (2 February). This led to fans and riders questioning why a CCI4*-S could proceed but not a CCI5*, while organisers explained that the five-star involves greater costs.

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Following the announcement that the five-star will run, Bill Moroney, chief executive officer of US Equestrian, said: “This will allow our athletes and horses aiming for Tokyo this summer the best opportunity to qualify and prepare, while ensuring the safest possible environment for participants seeking to complete a CCI5*-L or CCI4*-S. We extend a huge thank you to all involved, especially to our sponsors, for their flexibility and continued commitment to this event.”

The event will be broadcast on NBC, NBC Sports Network, and the USEF Network.

Spectators are not allowed at this time, but US Equestrian will continue to monitor the effects of the pandemic to determine whether a limited number of spectators can be permitted closer to the event, with priority given to 2020 rolled-over ticket holders. Those who bought tickets the 2020 event and chose to roll their money over for 2021 will have the option of full refunds, rolling their money over again for 2022 or donating the money to the event.

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