How It Works

Are you a Real Rider? Read on for more information on how you can participate in this year’s charity event!

Who can compete?

Racing industry personalities — those working in breeding, sales, training, racing, media, or aftercare — are invited to compete. Riders enter as individual combinations with their horses and also have the option to join a team or form their own team. Each rider submits a profile for this website so that fans of the Real Rider Cup can learn more and make a donation to their favorite (see “How do you raise funds?” below).

Tell me more about teams.

When registering, riders will choose whether to have Real Rider Cup place them on a team based on entry numbers and industry representation or form their own team.  Past teams have included Stable/Farm Managers and Staff, Racing Media, Racetrack Kids (juniors), Jockeys/Exercise Riders/Outriders. New for 2022, participants are given the option of forming teams to represent the racing entity of their choice, such as a specific track, stable, or breeding farm. If a team is not declared at registration, the RRC will choose one for the rider.

What do I ride?

All competitors will ride off-track Thoroughbreds who have had at least one lifetime start or published work. Riders compete in the silks of their supporters, employers, or connections of the horse to honor the racing industry.

Unless cleared in advance with the organizing committee, horses will be ridden in a headstall with reins and an English-style saddle suitable for jumping. Bitless bridles , exercise saddles, and side saddles are acceptable.

Where do I compete?

The 2022 competition format includes two locations on two dates: July 9 at New Vocations in Lexington, Kentucky, and September 16 at the Fair Hill Thoroughbred Show in Fair Hill, Maryland. You may ride in one, or both! Indicate on your registration form which leg(s) you will ride in. Teams may not split their rides between separate legs.

How do I raise funds?

Each competitor will pay a $25 registration fee and pledges to raise a minimum of $1,000. The registration fee is credited to the $1,000 pledge and how you raise those funds is completely up to you. Writing a compelling profile for the Real Rider Cup website is a great starting place, as supporters of the event will make donations via the website. Competitors in the past have solicited large donations from sponsoring farms, as well as compiled many small donations from friends and family.

How is the event judged (i.e.; How do I win?!)?

The Real Rider Cup is a show jumping event, so is ridden for fast time over a 2’6” course. Dropped rails and disobediences (refusals and runouts) add four-second time penalties to the overall time score per occurrence. A cumulative three rails or disobediences, rider fall, or off-course trip are cause for elimination. Placings are ranked by lowest score. Course maps and course walks will be made available prior to the start of competition.

Teams will be scored based on their lowest three rounds. Teams must have a minimum of three complete rounds to be placed in the team standings (i.e.; rounds resulting in eliminations will not be calculated in team standings).

Awards are as follows:

  • Individual Win, Place, Show, Kentucky and Maryland
  • Team Win, Place, Show, Kentucky and Maryland
  • Highest Earner, overall highest grossing fundraiser as of September 22nd.
  • People’s Choice Jump-Off, a virtual “Who Jumped It Best?” public vote between the individual champions from each leg to determine the Real Rider Champion.

The People’s Choice Jump Off will be posted Monday, September 19th with voting open for three days. The Real Rider Champion and Highest Earner will be announced Friday, September 23rd.