An exciting new initiative for Irish Show Jumping was announced last night Thursday, with details of the New Heights Champions Series unveiled at Palmerstown House in Co Kildare.
Prof. Pat Wall (Chairman, Horse Sport Ireland), Larry Masterson (CEO, TRM), Michael Creed, T.D. (Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine), Ray Buchanan (Chairman, Showjumping Ireland), and Elaine Hatton (HSI International Marketing Director), launching the New Heights Champions Series (Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile)
The New Heights Champions Series, sponsored by TRM and Horseware, is a joint venture between Showjumping Ireland and Horse Sport Ireland and will replace the Premier Series which had been the pinnacle of National Showjumping in Ireland for the past 10 years.
The lucrative New Heights Champions Series, which boasts an overall prize fund of over €110,000, will kick off at Louth County Show on April 23rd and visits 10 locations across the four provinces of Ireland - with the final to be held in September at the Irish Breeders Classic in Co Wexford which is already established as the richest Young Horse Show in Europe.
Michael Creed, TD Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said:
"It is clearly outlined in the ‘Reaching New Heights’ strategic document that an increase in prize money is needed within the Irish equestrian industry in order for the sport to move forward. I commend Horse Sport Ireland and Showjumping Ireland on this innovative new series and I hope the equestrian industry will support it."
One of the aims of the New Heights Champions Series will be to attract foreign buyers to Ireland to view young and more experienced horses. The series will also be marketed to foreign buyers through Horse Sport Ireland's international marketing division and the Irish Horse Gateway exhibition unit will be in place at each venue.
Elaine Hatton, Horse Sport Ireland’s Director of International Marketing said;
"I am very excited about the New Heights Champions Series. We have been working closely with Showjumping Ireland to create this new series which offers an increase of 30% in prize money on last year’s Premier Series, I am confident that this will further improve the standard of Show Jumping in Ireland at the highest level.
"It is outlined in the 'Reaching New Heights' strategy document that an increase in prize money nationally is needed and Horse Sport Ireland are proud to support this series both financially and otherwise. We will promote the series here at home and on our marketing campaigns abroad, with the aim of selling Ireland as the ‘Land of the Horse.’ This year will also see the introduction of prize money for the breeders of the top three Irish-bred horses,” she said.
Speaking at the launch, Robert Wallace from Showjumping Ireland added:
"In conjunction with Showjumping Ireland, Horse Sport Ireland and our long-standing sponsors TRM and Horseware, the New Heights Champions Series will move to regenerate the sport in 2017 and broaden the appeal of Show Jumping to the general public, media, sponsors and tourists from abroad interested in equestrian events. We are also delighted to announce that the series will be broadcast on TG4."
An independent sports consultancy company will attend each leg of the series to evaluate facilities for both equines and spectators, marketing and hospitality, while they will also monitor spectator attendance and start time of the competition. A prize fund of €10,000 will be on offer for each round of the series and jumped over a 1m50 height course. The final leg will follow the Global Champions Tour format of three rounds of jumping and will see €12,500 up for grabs, with the overall winner also being crowned 2017 Irish National Show Jumping Champion.
The New Heights Champions Series retains the support of both TRM and Horseware Ireland. Larry Masterson, Chief Operating Officer with TRM said:
"TRM are very proud to be associated with the New Heights Champions Series which is a stepping stone in a very positive direction to showcase Irish Show Jumping both nationally and internationally and endeavors to raise the profile of Show Jumping in Ireland going forward''.
Tom MacGuinness CEO of Horseware said
"Horseware are delighted to come on board as sponsors for the New Heights Champions Series and hope the new format will have a successful first season. Ireland has some of the best riders and horses in the world, and Horseware is committed to supporting Irish equestrians and horses''.
New Heights Champions Series 2017 Dates & Venues:
Louth County Show April 23rd
Ballinasloe May 28th
Mullingar June 4th
Galway County Show June 18th
Omagh June 30th - July 1st
Cork Summer Show July 9th
Balmoral July 18th
Tattersalls July 23rd
The Meadows August 20th
New Heights Champions Series Final - Irish Breeders Classic, Barnadown Co Wexford September 3rd