Riders Rally to Keep New CCI3* at 2018 Ocala Jockey Club Three-Day Event

The stunning Ocala Jockey Club in Reddick, Florida. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Amidst the news that the Ocala Jockey Club was considering postponing the running of its new CCI3* until 2019, a group of riders rallied together this week to secure the division’s addition at the 2018 horse trials. The Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event will run a CCI3*, CIC3*, CCI2* and CCI* on Nov. 14-18, 2018 in Reddick, Florida.

Since its first running in 2016, the Ocala Jockey Club Three-Day has quickly become a highlight on the fall calendar. The 2017 event was honored as the Small Market Event of the Year by the Florida Sports Foundation and brought a $1 million economic impact to Marion County last year.

“The Ocala Jockey Club has heavily invested in the farm’s and event’s infrastructure since 2015 and in the event’s organization since we took over the running of the 2017 event. It was important for the event to grow towards being sustainable,” Pavla Nygaard, President of the Ocala Jockey Club, said.

“Although we were honored to have been awarded by the governing bodies to run the prestigious CCI3* level for the 2018 event, the sponsorship commitments were not where they needed to be to offset expenses, and we felt that the responsible thing to do for the event’s sustainability was to postpone investing in further infrastructure for a year.”

Tamie Smith, Emily Holmes and Jon Holling all sprang into action this week in an effort to preserve the running of the CCI3* in 2018. A Facebook group was set up to explore options amongst the riders, who made it clear they felt the CCI3* at the Ocala Jockey Club was very important to the competition calendar.

Within the first eight hours of the call to action, 18 riders offered to sponsor a jump. A discussion of priorities ensued and a plan was ultimately developed in partnership with event management to set competition fees and prize money at levels that would allow the Ocala Jockey Club to add the CCI3* in 2018.

Tamie said she is thrilled and relieved that the grassroots effort to run the CCI3* in 2018 proved successful. She first visited the venue on a trip to Ocala in January of this year and said she was “awestruck” when she drove around the 950-acre property.

“I couldn’t believe that venue was here in this country. It looked like a European event with beautiful green, rolling hills. I think there’s not another facility in the country and maybe even in the world that has ground like that. They have a $25,000 a year budget just to maintain their footing all year round, and they only run one event. I think to not support that is crazy,” Tamie said.

“I’m thrilled that the Ocala Jockey Club decided to come back to the table and have a thought process of keeping the CCI3* for this year. All credit goes to Erik and Pavla Nygaard for stepping up to do it because I think we really need it on the calendar.”

The new CCI3* course, along with the existing CIC3*, will be designed by Mike Etherington-Smith. Due to a pre-existing scheduling conflict with the Adelaide CCI4*, where he also designs, the course designer on record is set to be Clayton Fredericks, with Mike listed as assistant course designer. Clayton will once again design the CCI2* and CCI* tracks. Chris Barnard is the show jumping course designer.

“The Ocala Jockey Club is heartened by the show of support by the riders and appreciates all who stepped up to keep the CCI3* at this year’s event,” Pavla said.

The Ocala Jockey Club would like to specifically thank those who stepped in to sponsor jumps. Copperline Farm, Holling Eventing, Brannigan Eventing, Kingfisher Park, Next Level Eventing, O’Connor Equestrian and The Champagne Syndicate all committed to sponsor CCI3*/CIC3* jumps at the $1,000 level.

Alex Green, Ashland Equestrian, Carter Eventing, Class Act Farm, Eventing Prix International, Shanon Baker and the Dover Saddlery Event Team, Law Eventing, Notting Hill Stables, O’Neal Equestrian, Hallie Coon and Redtail Ridge Farm a.. committed to sponsor tCCI*/CCI2* jumps at the $500 level.

The Ahearn Family, Gailey Enterprises, Peachstone, Horsepower Equestrian and Hannah Sue Burnett also offered a jump sponsorship and will clarify their full sponsorship level at a later date.

Anyone interested in adding to the show of support can contact Cindy Oatman, OJC Sponsorship Coordinator, at 352-591-1212, or email [email protected].

Keep up to date with all the latest news for the Ocala Jockey Club Three-Day at www.ojc3de.com. Go Eventing.