Split Rock Jumping Tour (SRJT) is rolling the dice on a high stakes–high reward new event in 2020: the $1.5 Million “Ante Up” Grand Prix.
The innovative new format, set to debut April 7 at Karl Cook’s Pomponio Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, sees riders pony up the prize money for a high stakes, winner takes (almost) all, 15-horse showdown.
Said SRJT founder and president Derek Braun:
“The main purpose of the Ante Up Grand Prix is to introduce a completely new dynamic to show jumping that currently does not exist at the highest level.”
New dynamic is putting is gently.
The Ante Up Grand Prix will be limited to 15 riders. And only 15 riders.
Riders interested in taking on the $1.5 Million challenge submit their names for consideration. Of those entered, invitations will be extended to the top five American riders and top five foreign riders (based on the Longines FEI World Ranking list), along with five organizing committee “wild cards” and two onsite reserves.
So, excellent odds.
Like every Grand Prix in North America, riders pay to play. But in this case, they pay a lot more…
The nomination fee is $125,000 USD.
BUT, you don’t have to pay out of pocket, necessarily.
“Qualified riders will have the right to choose whether or not to invest their own money to win 100% of the profits, or to have their entry paid for them and compete for 25% of the prize money with the remaining 75% going to whomever invested in them to compete. It will be completely their choice.”
That means, one rider could potentially ride away with the highest payday in show jumping—a cool million, but only if they gamble on themselves. Ride for a sponsor, and the purse becomes $250k to the rider and $750k to the “investor,” which can be an individual or a group.
(Disclaimer: the CP International Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows Masters is also a $1M payday to the winner, but it’s in Canadian funds.)
Second place will be awarded $350k. Third place, $150k. Everyone else walks away feeling the sting of a $125k loss.
Essentially, it’s like a high stakes game of poker. But the cards are show jumpers.
The Grand Prix itself will be run under a “Winning Round” format up to 1.60m in height. First round is against the clock. The top five riders return for the second round in reverse order with faults carried over.
Arguably the best part: The class will be broadcast live, like every good Grand Prix should be.
“This format lends itself perfectly to a television broadcast,” said Braun. “It will fit nicely into a one-and-a-half hour time slot which will be nationally televised live on April 7. This will build excitement, raise awareness for the sport, and draw a new, expanded viewership base beyond anything we’ve ever had before in American show jumping.”
So, friends. Who’s got $125k burning a hole in their pocket…?