How It Works

Are you a Real Rider? Read on for more information on how you can participate in this special 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 as a part of a 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).


Where do I compete?

The 2023 competition format includes two locations on two dates: July 8 at New Vocations in Lexington, Kentucky, and September 15 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.


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. Real Rider Cup organizers reserve the right to excuse any combination who demonstrate unsafe riding.


How do I enter?

Entries for the 2023 Real Rider Cup are scheduled to open May 15 and will close seven days prior to each respective leg of the competition. Entries are limited to 30 per location and event management will keep an “Also Eligible” waitlist.


Tell me more about teams.

Team must be comprised of a minimum of four riders. When registering, riders will choose whether to have Real Rider Cup place them on a team or form their own team.  Participants forming their own teams may choose 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. Past teams have included Stable/Farm Managers and Staff, Racing Media, Racetrack Kids (juniors), and Jockeys/Exercise Riders/Outriders. RRC organizers reserve the right to split or reorganize teams.

New for 2023: Entry capacity is limited to 30 horse/rider combinations per leg of competition. RRC management will review and approve/publish entries to the website as we are able to establish complete teams (a minimum of four entries per team). If you are expecting other team members to join your team and did not already provide their information on your entry, please let us know right away who else will be joining your team.


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, Kentucky and Maryland