Former Badminton winner Paul Tapner (pictured) has led the acclaim for a new eventing Grand Slam initiative that offers a £50,000 jackpot.
The Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam, which was launched this week, has a £50,000, winner-takes-all prize for any rider who can win three of the five CIC3* events this year – Burnham Market International, Belton International, Houghton International, Hopetoun International and Burgham International.
Wiltshire-based Australian star Tapner, who won Badminton in 2010, said: “Eventing is a hugely-popular, exciting and extreme equestrian sport. It is long overdue a prize fund to match its exhilarating nature and reward the expertise and dedication of the participants, both human and equine.
“International event riders on the world’s most competitive competition circuit here in the UK will all be hugely excited and motivated by the Tri-Star Grand Slam innovation. We are massively grateful to Shearwater Insurance for their longstanding, and now substantially increased, support of our sport.”
Alec Lochore, of Musketeer Event Management, and Stuart Buntine, of BEDE Events, have joined forces to launch the Grand Slam, while Shearwater Insurance managing director Jeremy Lawton is a long-standing supporter of eventing, owning 2004 individual Olympic gold medal-winning Shear l’Eau as well as his brother Shear H2O, who won the team silver medal in the 2000 Olympics.
Lawton said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam. Being experienced event horse owners ourselves, we have supported the sport for many years and recognise the importance of offering good prize money across all levels of competition.
“The costs involved in owning, training and entering horses have only increased, and we want to ensure that all riders have the potential to cover them. The hope is that by creating a prize pot of £50,000, we can not only support dedicated owners and riders, but also raise the profile of the sport.
“By pitching the prize fund at the 3* level, we believe that we have created a real opportunity for aspiring and amateur riders to win a significant amount of money.”
Lochore and Buntine are both former eventers, now heavily involved in staging competitions, and Lochore said: “Facilitating opportunities like this, I hope, show competitors that we are responding to their concerns regarding the level of prize money available in the sport and rewarding them for their skill and dedication.”
The first Grand Slam event will be Burnham Market on April 1-3, followed by Belton Park (April 15-17), Houghton (May 26-29), Hopetoun (June 17-19) and Burgham (July 29-30).
British Eventing chief executive David Holmes added: “British Eventing are delighted to be a part of this exciting new Grand Slam initiative — delivering riders, owners, sponsors and spectators with a thrilling competition to follow throughout the season.