Alltech ends its sponsorship of the National Horse Show

jpatton1@herald-leader.comMay 8, 2014 

Vieanne and Frances Land won the Amateur Jumper event at the National Horse Show in Alltech Arena last November.

PABLO ALCALA — Lexington Herald-Leader Buy Photo

After three years as title sponsor, Alltech has dropped its affiliation with the National Horse Show, a six-day event in the fall.

In 2011, the Nicholasville-based global animal nutrition company signed on with great fanfare to sponsor the National Horse Show, the premier jumping and equitation competition in the United States when it moved to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Alltech founder Pearse Lyons said at the time that the sponsorship was a good fit for the company, following its title sponsorship of the World Equestrian Games in Lexington in 2010 and in Normandy, France, this year.

Lyons and National Horse Show president Mason Phelps said that they hoped that the deal would last for several years. No dollar figure was ever released, but the prize money for the horse show increased to nearly $850,000 last year.

But in March, Alltech told Phelps it was choosing to "bow out" completely.

"This is their year for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, and that's a bigger expense," Phelps said. He said new sponsors have been signed for the show jumping grand prix and for puissance, and overall prize money is expected to increase again. A new title sponsorship deal is pending, Phelps said.

He said the National Horse Show will stay in Lexington.

Alltech spokeswoman Susanna Elliott said the decision had nothing to do with the National Horse Show.

"It's a fantastic event," she said. "It was a strategic decision made by the company. We felt we got the National Horse Show off to a good start, on good footing."

Elliott said that Alltech hopes to continue some of the auxiliary activities associated with the horse show, such as the Savor Kentucky bourbon, food and craft beer events, but the timing is up in the air.

On May 17, the company, which has a sideline business making bourbon, rye and beer, is hosting the inaugural Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fest at the Lexington Convention Center in conjunction with the second annual Lexington Craft Beer Week, which starts Saturday.

Elliott did not rule out the possibility of Alltech returning to the National Horse Show. "Like any growing business, we evaluate on an annual basis where we focus. At this time, we've chosen to direct our efforts elsewhere, with a primary focus being on the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy from Aug. 23 to Sept. 7," she said.

She said sponsorships of the puissance competition at Olympia, the London International Horse Show, in December and the grand prix at the Royal Windsor Horse Show next week in London will continue.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

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