Virtual Eventing supported by NAF announced that £178,500 has been raised for the NHS and medical charities around the world following the five-day competition, which was live-streamed between May 6-10.
The amazing commitment and effort from riders and presenters, kind donations by the sponsors, and generosity of those who pledged auction prizes meant initial targets were smashed, and a legacy has been left by the eventing world in helping to tackle COVID-19.
Over a million people tuned in to watch 50 world-class riders take part in a series of challenges to mirror elements of modern three-day eventing with a twist. The entertainment came thick and fast, from roller skates to snorkels, stethoscopes to stilettos; this was no eventing fake news story, confirmed by the appearance of Donald Trump. Decorated eventing Olympian William Fox-Pitt (Nurse) and fellow British team member Gemma Tattersall (Unicorn) trotted off with the HiHo Silver best-dressed male and female prizes following the public vote on Facebook.
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IT'S TIME TO CAST YOUR VOTE FOR THE @hihosilveruk BEST DRESSED MALE & FEMALE 🏆🥇 HEAD TO FACEBOOK TO 👍 LIKE THE PHOTO OF THE TROT UP OUTFIT YOU DEEM THE BEST! Voting closes at 8.30pm ⌛ 👑 Winners announced at 9pm (BST) . . . #WINNERWINNERCHICKENDINNER #winnersaregrinners #competition #gogogo #voteforyourfavourite
The dressage was a rare opportunity to see some of the world’s best equine training facilities, as horses and riders floated across our computer screens from their arenas at home under the watchful eye of the judges. Accuracy and precision saw the supremely talented GB Team Rider Laura Collett and London 52 lead at the end of the phase on 24.9.
Cross-Country consisted of a multi-part obstacle course on foot with each rider accompanied by a dog, teddy bear, or, in the case of Australian Olympian Megan Jones, a Shetland pony. Collett’s dominance didn’t last after an impressive dunking at the water complex. Clear rounds were few and far between, with refusals racking up and the clocks ticking down. Flying Frenchman Sebastien Cavaillon proved the most agile with Gemma Tattersall moving into second and Britain’s Matt Heath in third.
Show jumping has so often proved the undoing of many, and at the end of the hotly contested four-day competition, riders were given the final leg up into the saddle, this time on their bikes. Britain’s Kirsty Chabert, who sat sixth at the start of the day’s competition, produced a perfect and penalty-free round to put pressure on the top five.
An abundance of kicking and peddling saw Louisa Lockwood (GB), Olympian Tom Carlile (FR), and Matt Heath produce competitive rounds, while Gemma Tattersall slipped to fifth with four time faults. Tension mounted with Sebastien Cavaillon last to go, on the cusp of glory until an unfortunate error which saw two feet hit the ground, costing him dearly and dropping him to seventeenth place, meaning Wiltshire based Chabert was crowned the winner.
Chabert commented on victory, “I feel terrible for Sebastien and certainly never thought I would finish on my dressage score!”
“It’s really important we do our bit for the NHS and medical charities. They have helped riders on numerous occasions, picking us up off the floor, so it’s the least we could do for an amazing cause.”
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WINNER WINNER! 🎉🎉🎉 CONGRATULATIONS to @teamopposition's Kirsty Chabert! The winner of the @nafuk Virtual 5* Competition 💐🏆👑 A great win for team GB! Here she is celebrating her win with son Little Henry Chabert ❤️💙💜 . . . #WINNERWINNERCHICKENDINNER #winnersaregrinners #competition #gogogo #equine #charity #fundraising #competition #coronavirus #beatthedisease #covid19 #nhssupport #emergency #funding #equestrianism #equine #votd
Each rider trained diligently for the challenge alongside fundraising from their own Virgin Giving Money platform. Seventeen-year-old Archie Smith-Maxwell (GB) topped the individual fundraising table with a phenomenal £25,000 raised. The French team flew their flag for their nation, with Arthur Chabert, Sebastien Cavaillon, and Tom Carlile collecting the best part of £5,619 for Foundation de France.
Aside from the high octane equestrian action, streamers were invited to browse the silent auction where funds swelled. Generously donated lots, included staycations, lessons with the world’s best riders and bespoke luxury items, which added £41,331 to the fundraising haul. The shopping theme continued; people were able to purchase Virtual Eventing merchandise such as hats and t-shirts, with all proceeds going to charity, while the Virtual Shopping Village saw hundreds of stalls exhibited across the five days.
Rachel Wakefield, organiser of Virtual Eventing, commented, “Eventing has a big community of competitors and fans, and it’s been amazing to see how our sport has united. I never anticipated the support we have had, and to raise nearly £180,000, it is exceptional.”
“My thanks must go to our riders and their owners, auction donors, title sponsor NAF, and all our day sponsors; FMBS, Monbeg Sport Horses, Lotus Romero, Dubarry Of Ireland, SEIB Insurance, Equestriana, Saracens, SEIB Insurance, Voltaire Design, Bloomfield Horseboxes, and Houso, without whose support, this would not have been possible.”
For further information about Virtual Eventing and to watch the event on-demand, visit www.virtualeventing.com and follow at Virtual Eventing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.