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Career change for Cooley Rorkes Drift

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By: Jean Llewellyn / press release

Former international eventing rider Jonty Evans (51) was among the Para-dressage winners at Hickstead’s recent dressage fewstival – his first international victory with future entry to a Paralympic Games in mind.

With his top horse Cooley Rorkes Drift (Courage II [Holst] - Doon-A-Ree Lass [ISH] x Rachelle Comet xx), known at home as Art, Jonty Evans reached the top levels of eventing. The pair finished ninth individually at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, after which the horse's owner was offered a large sum of money to sell him. However, unwilling to lose the ride, Evans set up an online crowdfunding page to raise the money to buy the gelding himself. Remarkably, some £500,000 was raised, with 6,800 people becoming Art’s new ‘owners’. At the time, Evans was quoted as saying: “I’m lost for words and so grateful to everyone who donated. I just can’t believe it. This was my last and final choice, and I didn’t really think it could be done.”
The pair had just enjoyed their first international win at Belton, and were in the lead at Tattersalls International Horse Trials in June 2018, when they had a crashing cross-county fall three fences from home, which left Jonty in a coma for seven weeks, and spending time in a specialist neurological unit. He had to learn how to walk and talk again, but after a three-month stay in hospital and a lengthy rehabilitation, Jonty was able to return to riding a year after his accident.
Inspirationally, the switch to para-dressage has allowed him to continue his special relationship with Art. The pair won their first competition earlier this year, and the All-England Dressage Festival at Hickstead in mid May marked their CPEDI (international para-dressage) debut. They continued their run of success with wins in the two-star Para Intermediate Grade IV A and B tests, as well as the Grade IV Freestyle... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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