Alltech saddles up for €10m at World Equestrian Games
The World Equestrian Games got off to a high-profile start in Normandy at the weekend - thanks to €10m in backing provided by Irish entrepreneur Pearse Lyons' Alltech group.
For the second time in four years, Alltech is sponsoring the event, which this time around is being held in northern France and runs until September 7.
A record number of participants are taking part, with 74 countries sending 967 competitors and a total of 1,113 horses.
The games got under way properly this morning, with events including the dressage team grand prix.
Among the Irish participants is 28-year-old Clare Abbott, who's taking part in the eventing element with her horse, Euro Prince.
Wexford's Bertram Allen is taking part in the jumping. The 19-year-old is competing fresh from his Dublin Grand Prix win at the Dublin Horse Show earlier this month.
There's a total of 21 competitors representing Ireland.
A former Irish Distillers employee, Pearse Lyons established Alltech in 1980 in Kentucky, with $10,000.
The business, which has interests ranging from animal health and nutrition to beer and whiskey (including a distillery in Carlow), now generates annual turnover of around €800m. The company has its European bioscience centre in Co Meath.
Alltech remains solely in the hands of the Lyons family. Mr Lyons' wife, Deirdre, is director of corporate image and design at Alltech. She supervised the design plans for the Alltech pavilion at the equestrian games.
In an interview with the Irish Independent last year, Mr Lyons said he made the final decision to sponsor the 2010 World Equestrian Games without consulting anyone.
Those games were held in Lexington, Kentucky - Mr Lyons' US home.
Mr Lyons turned 70 earlier this month, but said he has no plans to retire.
"What else would I do? Sit at home, or count your money or go on a yacht? That's not what life is about. It's not about making money. Life is about doing things. This isn't a job. It's an adventure."