Known as one of the most iconic venues in North American eventing, Plantation Field in Unionville, Pennsylvania can be likened to Keeneland or Saratoga for equestrians. Each year the facility hosts the Plantation Field International Horse Trials, one of the premier eventing competitions in North America that routinely draws Olympic and World Equestrian Games-caliber competitors.
Last year Plantation Field launched the Real Rider Cup, a celebrity charity equestrian competition aimed at bridging the gap between the on-track and off-track worlds. Held on the Sunday of the Plantation Fields International, the event consisted of four teams of five riders, with each team representing a different sector of the racing community. Each rider was mounted on an off-track Thoroughbred and together they navigated a stadium jumping course, trying to keep the rails up, beat the clock…and stay on their horse!
This year on September 23 the event is back, boasting a new roster of riders, many of whom will be riding in a jumping competition for the first time in their lives!
Spearheading preparations for the event are Graham and Anita Motion, who said the idea came about because they wanted to do more to showcase how successful Thoroughbreds are in the world of eventing.
“Graham and I have become closely connected to the Duttons and get immense pleasure in seeing some of our ex-trainees thrive in their new careers,” said Anita Motion. “I sat down with Phillip, Evie, Amy Borun and brought along a friend of mine from England – Giles Anderson – who was visiting us at the time…Thoroughbred racing and three-day eventing are so closely connected, and the eventing world is a great outlet for racehorses when they are no longer competitive on the track.”
Just as they were last year, this year's teams are grouped together based on their involvement in the horseracing industry: exercise riders, owners, racing analysts and trainers. All of the competitors will be wearing silks during the competition and while some will be aboard their own horses, others will be riding donated horses who are borrowed for the day to match their rider's abilities.
Last year two-time Olympic gold medalist Phillip Dutton, who has taken a number of horses from the Motion's Herringswell Stable (including Icabad Crane) and transitioned them into the discipline of eventing, walked the show jumping course with the riders prior to the event and offered hits and tips on how best to navigate it.
“The inaugural Real Rider Cup went amazingly well,” said Motion. “The riders and horses were all fantastic, which made for a very entertaining event. Last year we had riders flying in from Kentucky, New York and Florida, as well as Zoe Cadman, who came from California via Kentucky. We also had some well-known racehorses competing on the day, which was a big draw.”
Each rider was tasked with raising pledges, with proceeds of the event benefitting Plantation Field and the Retired Racehorse Project, both 501(c)(3) charities. While last year's winners were the “trainers” team, consisting of Leigh Delacour, Sanna Neilson, Joe Sharp, Chuck Lawrence and Tim Keefe, this year it's a new roster of riders competing for the top prize.
This year's Real Rider Cup teams consist of:
To make a pledge to support any of this year's riders, visit https://www.plantationfieldinternational.com/index.php/real-rider-cup-2018.
Jen Roytz is a marketing, publicity and comprehensive communications specialist based in Lexington, Kentucky and was recently named the Executive Director of the Retired Racehorse Project. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, her professional focus lies in the fields of equine, health care, corporate and non-profit marketing. She is the go-to food source for one dog, two cats and two off-track Thoroughbreds.
Email Jen your story ideas at [email protected] or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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