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20th February 2016
Eight competitor nations were represented at last night’s launch alongside trainers, owners and those with a desire to see a positive change for the sport hear the organising team, led by Di Brunsden, announce their vision on how to increase prize money and get television involved.
Alice Plunkett, presenter on Channel 4, Eurosport, Sky Sports and host of the Emirates World Racing Series, explained how 2016 will see the soft launch of the Event Rider Masters. The 6 event series is planned to expand in 2017 to include European events and further televised coverage. For the first time, riders will sign a media contract to ensure access all areas in order to showcase this ‘Olympic level hard core sport’.
Alice continued, “This is a sport with incredible people who are phenomenally brave and have great relationships with their horses, who are very professional, competing in aesthetically astounding places with huge historic gravitas and we are in discussion with big brands that look at global sport to secure eventing along side those other sports in the same way.” For the past ten years Alice has worked on the Dubai World Cup and the Hong Kong International Races and she firmly believes that delivering the sport in this way “will attract a large new audience in the Far East, Middle East and Indian sub-continent.”
Speaking ahead of the launch, John Hoerner, former Chairman of the British Fashion Council and CEO of the Arcadia Group echoed Alice’s point, “This opportunity represents untapped commercial potential of a world class sport in iconic, historic venues that has real global appeal.”
Lisa Stone, Chilli Morning’s owner and Chairman of Event Rider Masters, spoke of her and her husband Chris’s ‘amateur’ involvement with the sport and how, following a back injury from riding, they turned their attentions to owning event horses and then breeding, and were hooked.
“This is a sport with a lot of potential and one that has had a lack of investment. There is not enough engagement and enthusiasm that there should be for a sport that really is extremely compelling.”
Christopher and Lisa Stone intend to support and develop the business model for Event Rider Masters through their wealth of experience in both the sporting and financial spheres.
Former double Olympic Gold medallist and current World No 6, Sir Mark Todd said, “The Event Rider Masters is without doubt the most exciting development in eventing that I’ve ever seen.”
It was wonderful to see William Fox-Pitt, Great Britain Olympic Team rider, former three-time World No 1 and current World No 4, looking so well.
“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” he said.
Whilst the format of the CIC***’s involved will remain relatively unchanged, the goal of Event Rider Masters is to package the sport specifically for television audiences and to deliver exciting new prize money as yet unseen in the world of short-format eventing.
Assisted by EquiRatings, the equestrian data analytics company owned by international event rider Sam Watson and lawyer Diarm Byrne, Event Rider Masters will use new technology and reactive data to enhance the on and off-site experience for spectators, riders, owners and sponsors alike.
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 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 maintained.
The series legs are:
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire – 14–15 May
Bramham Park, Yorkshire – 10-11 June
Barbury Castle, Wiltshire – 9-10 July
Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, Gloucestershire – 6-7 August
Blair Castle, Perthshire – 27-28 August
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire – 10-11 September
The Event Rider Masters has a guaranteed prize fund of £350,000 – £50,000 for each of the six classes and a £50,000 prize fund for the leading riders at the end of the series. For 2016 the series will be UK based with a rapid expansion plan into Europe and beyond from 2017. Event Rider Masters is a partnership with EventingLive, a not for profit body that will support continued development and investment in the sport of Eventing.
For anyone unsure of this new direction, current World No 2 Christopher Burton, summed it up perfectly:
“The powers that be at Lords tried to stop Kerry Packer launching the One Day Cricket Series which, as we all know, might have been the moment that saved the sport. Finally, some dynamic people are thinking ahead for the future of eventing. They are not only visionaries but have put together an exciting package that will bring our beloved sport to the people.”
Thankfully, the series has full support of British Eventing, the British Equestrian Federation, the Event Horse Owners Association and the Eventing Riders Association, and in November 2015 was granted full FEI approval.
Keep up to date with Event Rider Masters on Twitter here and show your support with the hashtag #ERMeventing