Jonty Evans raises £500k to keep Olympic horse: ‘It still hasn’t sunk in’

Jonty Evans and Art at Badminton 2017
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Jonty Evans has achieved the unachievable and raised an incredible £500,000 in a crowd-funding campaign, to keep his Rio Olympic horse.

‘Madness’

Cooley Rorkes Drift (‘Art’) was being sold by his owner Fiona Elliott and Jonty had the genius (crazy?) idea of setting up a website where people could donate money. One month later – and just one day before his deadline of 10 August – the £500,000 target was hit.

“It was a last ditch attempt as we had no other choice,” Jonty told H&C. “It felt like madness, so it makes it even more incredible that people got behind us in this way.”

H&C was a key supporter in the campaign, as we created a video of Jonty and Art that reached over 140,000 people. We are so proud to have been a part of a campaign that captured the public’s hearts.

“The support from everybody has been unreal,” said Jonty. “I never imagined it would be like this. The fact that we raised the money still hasn’t sunk in.”

Major donors

Around 3,500 people contributed to the cause, but it was two major donors who pledged £250,000 between them that helped hit the target. Jonty is unable to reveal their names at the moment, but told H&C they will be part owners alongside the thousands of others who helped him keep Art.

“The crowd-funding has created an umbrella body that part owns the horse,” he explained. “We need to come up with a name for the group – there is still so much to work out.

“We are going to do some kind of closed Facebook page for all our donors and we will email everyone thanking them personally.”

‘Fabulous horse’

For now Jonty has one thing on his mind as he and Art have been selected for the Irish team in next week’s European Championships in Strzegom, Poland.

“Our plan is to try and get back to normality,” said Jonty. “Art is a fabulous horse to have around and the last few months have been horrific, not knowing what was going to happen with him. He’s part of our family and thanks to everyone’s support the family stays intact.”

You can watch all the action from the Europeans as H&C are screening six highlight shows of the eventing, dressage and showjumping. The first of our hour-long programmes is the FEI Europeans 2017: Eventing on 26 August at 9pm on Sky 253, or you can watch online via H&C Play and Amazon Video.

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