Irish Olympian Jonty Evans saves partnership with beloved horse by raising £500k through crowd-funding
An Irish eventer has achieved a target of raising £500,000 to buy his Rio Olympics horse Cooley Rorkes Drift.
Jonty Evans, who is based in Gloucestershire, faced a distinct possibility of seeing the combination split up as the horse's owner considered a sale amid significant interest from potential buyers, including in America.
He was given time, though, to try to raise funds and then purchase the horse at a preferential rate.
Evans finished ninth in the Rio Olympics individual eventing competition last summer, performed well at the prestigious Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials earlier this year and then gained Ireland team selection to contest the European Championships in Poland, which start on August 17.
He could not have competed at the Europeans with the horse's future unresolved, but £500,000 has now been hit through a website crowd-funding campaign that 45-year-old Evans launched last month, two separate six-figure donations and an auction.
"I am lost for words and so, so grateful to everyone who donated," Evans told www.horseandhound.co.uk. "I just can't believe it.
"This was my last and final choice, and I didn't really think it could be done.
"The momentum in the first 24 or 48 hours was unreal, and I thought 'can this happen?' Then of course it slowed a bit, then there were the two larger donations and we crossed the line. It's unreal."
The partnership is among the most highly rated in eventing, with next year's World Championships in North Carolina and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics being future targets.