NAF Virtual Eventing Brings Stars of the Sport to your Sofa

Gemma Tattersall is no stranger to spring five-stars – and she’ll be fighting for the virtual title this year. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

So we won’t have any five-stars to obsess over this spring, and you know what? It’s crap. It’s utter rubbish. It truly is. But you know what’s not crap? The fact that we’re all going to get to be a part of the eventing world’s creative revolution. Things might be very, very different from how they normally are right now, but our global eventing family isn’t going to take it lying down – and some of the ideas we’re seeing blooming around us are things we’ll be talking about for a long time to come. So instead of ruing what could have been, we’re going to embrace what will be. Top of our list? The first-ever virtual CCI5*, to be held May 6-10.

What is it?

The brainchild of Uptown Eventing’s Rachel Wakefield-Wynne, Virtual Eventing – sponsored by NAF – has been created with a few things in mind: to provide motivation for top riders stuck at home, to entertain the masses, and to raise much-needed funds for doctors and nurses around the world in the fight against COVID-19. In fact, every country represented in the virtual line-up will receive a charitable payout – and we hear that many of the riders are willing to accept bribes in exchange for donations.

The idea just got real, someone has donated £500.00 for time me to trot up in a outfit of your choice for Virtual 5*…

Posted by Emma Hyslop-Webb on Friday, April 3, 2020

Cool, very into bribery. So how does it work?

Well, just like the real deal, Virtual Eventing consists of three unique phases, plus a first horse inspection – but that, Rachel promises us, will be a trot-up like we’ve never seen before. On Thursday and Friday, competitors will ride the 5* B test for a judging panel made up of Annabel ScrimgeourLes Smith, and Jane Tolley, while Saturday’s cross-country challenge will include a mysterious – and totally bonkers – set of challenges against the clock, in keeping with current recommendations to stay safe and avoid unnecessary risk. Finally, Sunday will see competitors tackling an unmounted showjumping course designed by an FEI course designer. All of the action will be live-streamed thanks to Chilli Pepper TV, bringing some classic insanity and fierce competition straight to your sofa. (And yes, we’ll be covering it all – you can’t keep EN away from an event!)

Ah, an emotional 20,000 word article on a virtual event. Good. So who’s entered, anyway?

Entries have now closed and currently look jam-packed with superstars representing eleven countries. Boyd Martin heads a trio of impressive US entries with his National Champ TsetserlegWilliam Fox-PittGemma Tattersall, and Laura Collett – who will ride ultimate hunk London 52 – spearhead a strong British effort, and France’s Tom Carlile brings forward one of our top mare crushes, the nine-year-old Birmane. Meanwhile, the thunder is being well and truly BROUGHT from Down Under, with three Aussie entries and counting. Stay tuned for more entry list news and – of COURSE – a form guide for your pre-event perusal. Could we resist? Never.

How can I follow along?

Give Virtual Eventing’s Facebook page a like and follow the event, too, for all the latest news directly to your feed. Want to donate? Click here to donate to an individual rider’s fundraising page, or scroll down to chuck a few pennies in the event’s hat. 100% will go to charities supporting doctors and nurses around the world – and that’s something we can truly get behind! There’ll also be a virtual tradestand village held throughout the event, bringing you many of the crazy deals and discounts you can expect from a trip to a 5*.

We’ll be bringing you plenty more news, information, and coverage as we inch closer to the big week. Go (Virtual) Eventing!