Ocala Jockey Club Seeks Partnerships or Sale to Facilitate Venue’s Growth

The view from the clubhouse at the Ocala Jockey Club. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The Ocala Jockey Club, which covers 954 acres in Reddick, Florida, is seeking partnerships to grow the facility, which is also available for sale to the right buyers.

Pavla Nygaard, who owns the farm with her husband, Erik Nygaard, confirmed to EN that this year’s event will still take place on Nov. 14-17, 2019. All normal operations will continue at the farm as Pavla and Erik look for the right partners or buyer to come on board for the facility.

The Ocala Jockey Club has become a staple in the U.S. fall calendar since the event first started running in 2016, and the venue currently hosts one of only six CCI4*-L events in North America.

Read on for a full statement from Pavla:

“I fell in love with the Ocala Jockey Club farm when I first saw it in 2005. That feeling hasn’t changed since. I still love watching horses on the track in the morning or in the fields, walking the property, thinking of design ideas for the clubhouse or the townhomes, ways to improve the November 3-Day Event or for the property to reach more people. Each of the gorgeous sunsets still takes my breath away.

“When we bought the farm, there were significant legal title issues and much of the property was run down. Slowly over time, we had cleaned up the legal issues, restored the townhome village in the back of the farm, upgraded parts of the farm and brought life back to this historic property. However, our hopes and dreams for the property are bigger than our own resources, whether that be our time, financial resources, and very dedicated but lean staff.

“Both Erik and I are thankful and grateful for the quick rise of the Ocala Jockey Club International 3-Day Event. We have committed significant resources to the building of the Event infrastructure as well as the soft costs towards its organization, marketing and maintenance, and we would like the Event and the farm to to grow and be part of the fabric of Ocala’s traditions. The eventing community and the Ocala community have grown to depend on this Event to continue, and we believe this is important to facilitate.

“In order to do so, the Event and the property deserves to look to upgrades and a larger team than we are able to commit on our own for the long term. This is why we believe that the property and the Event will have an opportunity to be stronger with either strategic partners or with a new buyer who will be able to take the property further and faster than we are able to do on our own. While the current ownership team along with our existing organizing committee and OJC team have done an incredible job on a relative shoestring budget, doing more and better requires stronger resources.

“Discussing the idea of a sale or attracting strategic partnerships may be news to the majority of the Eventing world. But the organizers that we work most closely with have been aware for over a year of our desire to put OJC in the best hands. This includes Shelley Page, Max Corcoran, Clayton Fredericks, Mike Etherington-Smith and Alec Lochore.

“We view our situation similarly to a start-up technology company that can get to a certain level with its founders working in the basement or to another level with the founders’ savings funding the company’s growth, but which cannot get to a higher level without significant venture capital investment or outright sale to a well-capitalized company with a strong team and ability to invest without a need for immediate returns.

“Erik and I wish the best for the property, as it is a historic farm that we are proud to be associated with. Whether we find strategic partners or a new owner, we want this property to retain its rustic and natural character, as it is what makes it so special and beautiful. This could come in the form of an equestrian-themed destination resort, well-being institute and boutique hotel, or similar outdoor adventure, special events and wellness development.

“Whatever the final design and ownership structure, we feel that the property deserves to be centered around large areas of continued green space for generations of equestrians and nature-lovers to come. We are fully committed to running a successful November 2019 Ocala Jockey Club International 3-Day Event, to continue building it so that it can continue successfully regardless of who may own the property going forward.

“We are also fully committed to continue searching for ways to allow the property to continue growing. Our wish to list the property is in the desire to allow the property to be more of what it deserves to be. There is no fire sale, property auction, nor broker listing. We are searching for the right individual or group that will be a perfect fit for a special property like this, and we will continue operations and growing within our means in the meantime.

“We are looking forward to everyone joining us for this year’s Ocala Jockey Club International 3-Day Event on November 14-17, 2019.”

The full ad for the Ocala Jockey Club can be viewed below. Contact Erik Nygaard at [email protected] for more information.