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The 2020 International Gold Cup Will Run Without Spectators - Here's Why

Race event runs to help-out equine industry as more than 1,000 jockeys, trainers and equine caretakers face possible unemployment

It takes a huge team to feed, care for and train steeplechase horses. Since the pandemic, and with events not allowed to have spectators, there has been a large decrease in equestrian events. Due to this, many of those employed in the industry face potential unemployment and financial hardship.

In an effort to help alleviate the hardship, the National Steeplechase Association has stepped up and is livestreaming events so that the horses may run and may still collect winnings, while spectators enjoy the sport from their homes.

“We wanted to provide a venue for the steeplechase/racing industry to be able to get horses out and receive some financial support in the form of purse money,” explained Dr. William Allison, co-chairman of the Virginia Gold Cup Association, the organization that oversees the Virginia Gold Cup and the International Gold Cup. “Thanks to the NSA, jockeys and trainers have been able to continue training their horses and have some livestreaming venues where they can compete.”

Earlier this year and throughout the spring, race meets were cancelled leaving the horse industry with unprecedented hardship. The steeplechase community came together to try to maintain the employment of more than 1,000 jockeys, trainers and many others on farms who exercise and care for the horses. The International Gold Cup will provide purse money for participants. Even more importantly, it will provide a viable and tangible boost to keep many working in the equine industry employed.

The equine industry is important to Virginia’s economy. A 2018/19 report by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported that the horse industry brings more than $2 billion annually in economic development to the Commonwealth. The report noted that there are more than 183,643 horses in the state that provide approximately 38,874 jobs. It also stated that there are 30.5% or one million households that contain horse enthusiasts. “The viability of the horse industry is an important component for the Commonwealth’s economy,” Allison added.

The International Gold Cup will be held with limited people on-site—participants and essential personnel only. “We’ve worked closely with the National Steeplechase Association and Virginia Equine Alliance to be able to successfully run the Virginia Gold Cup this past June and it was successful. They are now assisting us in running the International Gold Cup,” Allison added. “It will be a bittersweet day without our loyal fans in attendance, but ultimately being able to host race day is a victory for us. We are hopeful racegoers will tune into the livestream.”

The International Gold Cup encourages race fans to tune in and celebrate with appropriate socially- distanced watch parties. Tailgate recipes and hat photos, in honor of the annual Hat and Tailgate Contests, can be shared on the VGCA facebook, Instagram, and twitter. Viewers can tune in to to live stream the event on October 24 at 12:00 p.m. EST.

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The 2020 International Gold Cup Races are presented by Brown Advisory, the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, Virginia Equine Alliance and the Virginia Breeders Fund as well as the National Steeplechase Association. The NSA live stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory, The Charleston Post and Currier, Bruton Street, and the Virginia Equine Alliance.

© Ed Felker

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