Alltech to sponsor WEG legacy event in 2011

lblackford@herald-leader.comDecember 10, 2010 

WEGSS-Jumping

Aleksandra Lusina, Poland, rode Ekwador over a Calumet Farm jump during the Individual Jumping qualification and Final Team competition at the Rolex Stadium, part of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, October, 05, 2010. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

CHARLES BERTRAM

Alltech officials have confirmed that the Nicholasville company will sponsor a legacy event at the Kentucky Horse Park in October to commemorate the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

The event — tentatively titled the Alltech Legacy Games — will be Oct. 18 to 23, Alltech spokeswoman Susanna Elliott said, and will focus on competitions in the Alltech Arena, the park's new indoor arena. That could include reining, driving and jumping, among other disciplines.

Pearse Lyons, head of Alltech, said he's heard from many riders who want to come back to Kentucky. But in addition to that, he always thought WEG should be more than a one-time event.

"If you think in terms of legacy, our name is now on the Alltech Arena, and it will be very appropriate to hold it there," he said

There also will be a trade show and equine demonstrations, although on a smaller scale than at the Games, and nightly entertainment.

"It will essentially be a celebration of the horse," Elliott said.

Horse Park director John Nicholson said he envisions high-level competition, similar to the World Games, which are the world championships in eight equine disciplines.

Ticket prices and other details have not been worked out.

"This is an ongoing conversation," Nicholson said.

Neither Mayor Jim Newberry nor Mayor-elect Jim Gray knew about the details of the legacy event, and it's not clear how it might fit in with a continuation of the Spotlight Lexington Festival, the downtown entertainment that coincided with the Games.

Newberry said the community is just beginning to assess the Games' legacy, which includes improvements in Lexington, such as the Legacy Trail and Fifth Third Bank Pavilion, and at the Horse Park.

"This event will be one of many exciting ideas that will find a home at the park because of facilities made possible by the Games," Newberry said in a statement. "Congratulations to Alltech."

The state Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet is conducting a study on the economic impact of the Games on Lexington and Central Kentucky, but it has not been completed.

The World Games, which were held Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, sold 411,000 tickets to spectators from all over the world, and they were organized to coincide with nightly concerts in downtown Lexington and around the state.

Alltech, the Nicholasville-based feed-supplement company, paid $10 million to be the title sponsor, but it ended up spending more than $30 million to support the event.

Alltech officials have said the Games helped them make inroads in equine nutrition markets; Lyons told the Herald-Leader he expects to see $100 million in new business as a result. The company already is signed on as a sponsor for the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

"We want to capitalize on what happened during the Games," Elliott said. "We really believe that America was awakened to horse sport, and so it's really to continue that legacy of what happened during the Games, especially how the community was brought together."

After the Games, Newberry appointed a committee to see whether the Spotlight Festival should be made an annual event.

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