The Story of Jonty & Art.
Once upon a time, back in the year 2010, there was a promising 5 year old Irish horse by Courage II, who went through the sales ring at the combined Monart / Going For Gold sale. His name: Cooley Rorkes Drift, ‘Art’ to his friends. Mrs Fiona Elliott bought him, and evented him in 2011, a season of BE90s and 100s, a good grounding.
One day her horsebox broke down on the Fosse Way, and a tall, dark and handsome young man (cough) called Jonty Evans kindly stopped to help.
Here the fairytale truly begins…
Anyone who has been following top level Eventing for the last few years can’t have failed to notice that Jonty and Art have been steadily climbing the ranks until they are knocking on the door of greatness. After carefully and patiently nurturing Art to progress up the levels from BE100 to 3*, and clinching a two season run of good 2* and 3* results, Jonty rode him to double clear at the Rio Olympics. The fairly inexperienced Art, who hadn’t contested a 4* at that point, finished 9th there, nursed around in a feat of superb horsemanship, mastering a very tough course (which caused many top combinations huge problems) against the best in the world, only their time penalties XC pushing them down the leaderboard.
This spring they nailed an absolutely fantastic dressage test at Badminton, and, but for an agonising split-second error from Jonty on the XC which led to a silly run out when up on the clock, might well have finished on the podium, their 20 penalties putting them out of contention, but a clear on the final day again reaffirming their absolute class.
Over to Jonty:
“Unfortunately, the success that Art and I have achieved has not gone unnoticed, and there have been some huge offers made for him to be sold. His owners have a young family and I totally understand their need to accept an offer. As you can imagine, from my point of view, selling my best mate had never entered my head. It has been an horrific few months wondering if he will be sold, and praying that a solution might be found. The owners have given me time to try and raise the funds, and have agreed that I can buy him at a preferential price. We have some funding pledged, but we are short of the goal, the only solution we have left is to try a Crowdfunding campaign. I hope and pray that people around the world will appreciate that Art and I are partners – we have come through life so far together and I hope that we can finish our journey together. At 11yrs old he is entering his prime, this years European Championships in Poland, Badminton, Next years WEG in Tryon and of course the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 are all potential medal events for Art and I – but only if we can stay together.
There are a lot of people who have admired Art, but mainly they talk about the fact that he and I make such a great partnership – I feel that this partnership and the trust that develops from it, is an honour – something we must never take for granted – I have nurtured it in this horse and looked after it – I want to show the world that this is what our sport is all about – I just need help in keeping him!
Without any doubt, Art is my horse of a lifetime, I feel that if people will pledge to support our crowdfunding campaign then they can be a part of that journey – previously, owning an event horse has been the privilege of the wealthy, I hope that our situation gives everyone a chance to get involved – anybody can donate and so anybody can get involved in supporting Arts journey. We are hoping to have T shirts and photos printed to offer to people, so that they can feel part of the family that will own Art. We hope that Art can become – THE PEOPLE’S HORSE!
We are also giving companies a chance to get involved – by donating to the fund, the company will be able to use Art and I as part of their marketing (by agreement) and so benefit by association with both a successful partnership and a fairy-tale ending to a difficult story. Something we feel sure that companies’ customers will appreciate.
If, and I know it’s a huge if, 5000 people around the world could see their way to donating £100 each, we could afford to buy him – and the beauty of the plan is that, he would never again be under threat of being sold – this is a one off thing – if we can buy him once then he and I can stay together for good.”
They have been selected for the Irish Team at the European Champs this autumn in Strzegom, Poland, but if the Ownership issue cannot be sorted soon they will be unable to go.
The website for pledges went live on the 13th July and I can truly say I have never seen anything like it. Other riders have been posting on Facebook that they have bought “a whisker”, “an eyelash”, “a forelock hair” and so on. The father of a British rider posted that he had donated, and that this transcends national boundaries.
If they don’t meet their goal, Art will be sold abroad, and every donation will be returned.
This isn’t about Jonty or the owners getting rich (a far far higher offer has been made from overseas, apparently.) It’s purely about this great partnership staying together, for good.
If everyone who loves the sport gives a tiny bit, and maybe those who can afford it give a bit more, and people spread the word, and the right people see it and want to get involved, we can all do this. For Art, and for Jonty.
You can see the current total, and how to donate, HERE.
Currently they are at £80,000 pledged, of the £550,000 they need. They reached £56,000 in the first 24 hours, which was a sensational start. We need to keep the momentum going, and hope that the right people hear about this and want to get involved.
It would be heartbreaking to see this horse sold abroad to another rider. Let’s all work to keep this partnership intact. That is what the essence of eventing is about.
You can follow their story on the Jonty Evans Eventing Facebook page.
Good Luck Jonty and Art. We are all rooting for you. We want to see the fairytale continue, and an Irish rider winning at the very highest level is well overdue!