Former Olympic champion Mark Todd has led the acclaim for a new eventing competition that could take the sport to a new level.
The Event Rider Masters, which has a guaranteed £350,000 prize fund, will link CIC*** events at Chatsworth, Bramham, Barbury, Gatcombe, Blair Castle and Blenheim.
Hailed by organisers as “representing a new dawn in the world of eventing.” the goal of Event Rider Masters is to package the sport specifically for television audiences and to deliver prize money as yet unseen in the world of short-format eventing.
The launch of the series has come about through a collaboration of owners, riders and organisers. A team of six eventing stakeholders led by Di Brunsden have developed the concept over the past 18 months. The series has full support of British Eventing, the British Equestrian Federation, the Event Horse Owners’ Association and the Eventing Riders’ Association. It was granted full FEI approval last November.
Each of the six classes will run under FEI rules and will be open to just 40 horse and rider combinations, balloted by FEI rider ranking points and ensuring a top-flight competition featuring the best in the world. With dressage in form order, reverse-order show jumping and the top 20 reverse-order cross country, the excitement of the competition is ensured.
The successful business team of Christopher and Lisa Stone, themselves event horse owners, intend to support and develop the business model through their wealth of experience in both the sporting and financial spheres.
The £350,000 prize fund sees £50,000 awarded for each of the six classes, and a further £50,000 prize fund for the leading riders at the end of the series.
For this year, the series will be UK-based, with an expansion plan into Europe and beyond from 2017.
The series has been warmly welcomed throughout the sport, with Wiltshire-based New Zealander Todd stating: “The Event Rider Masters is without doubt the most exciting development in eventing that I’ve ever seen.”
And Britain’s former world-number-one event rider, William Fox-Pitt (pictured), said: “As riders and as a sport, we have all been trying to work out a way of securing investment and encouraging television within eventing.
“It would seem that the Event Rider Masters series has the potential to deliver on both counts. I am really excited about the future of the sport, and very much hope I can be a part of it.”
Captain Mark Phillips, cross-country course designer at Gatcombe’s Festival of British Eventing, added: “I have been really impressed by the way Event Rider Masters is being marketed to a global audience. It has the full support of the Festival at Gatcombe, and I am looking forward to playing an important role in what promises to be an exciting future.
And the FEI’s eventing director Catrin Norinder said: “The Event Rider Masters is a great new series. We believe it will attract additional interest and give further exposure to eventing. It will be good for our sport, appealing to a new and wider range of spectators, as well as engaging those already involved. We look forward to its development.”