September 29, 2019 / 12:19 AM / 22 days ago

Equestrian: Bloomberg aims for show jumping to leap into the mainstream

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sitting above the Longines Global Champions Tour arena on Governors Island on Saturday, equestrian Georgina Bloomberg was eyeing more than just her New York City hometown on the horizon - she was picturing a bright future for her sport.

FILE PHOTO: Georgina Bloomberg of the U.S. riding Paola before the Paris 1.45/1.50-meter jumping competition during the Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping 2018 Competition in Paris, France July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

Bloomberg, who won a team bronze medal at the Pan American Games in 2015, sees endless possibilities in the United States for show jumping, a sport widely seen as more popular in Europe. The key, according to the 36-year-old American, is bringing the sport to the crowds.

“I think putting the sport into places where people have access to it is obviously incredibly important,” Bloomberg said. “Sometimes because of the set-up and what it takes with the animals, we don’t always get to be in big cities and be where it’s easy for people to get to.

“We, as riders, we’re willing to sacrifice a big schooling area or a little bit of inconvenience to be able to have the crowds be here and support us,” she added.

But Bloomberg, the daughter of billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, acknowledges the sport can suffer from a perception problem. She oversees a charitable organization, the Rider’s Closet, which helps redistribute equipment to riders in need, and recognizes the sport’s reputation as an enclave of the wealthy.

“Obviously the sport gets a bit of a wrap as an elitist sport, and it is very expensive,” Bloomberg said, but argued that money has not been and will not become a deciding factor for success in the sport.

“The majority of top riders didn’t come from money,” she said. “The best horse in the world won’t make you win Global Champions Tour without a lot of work and a lot of determination.”

Bloomberg, who competed with her New York Empire team in the Global Champions League finals, said she is committed to remaining with the sport even after she leaves the saddle. In the near term, however, she is keeping focused on the competition to come.

“Obviously, World Championships and Olympics are two things I’d love to cross off that list as well,” she said. “But in our sport it’s always a bit of a struggle. It’s not just about us, it’s about the horses as well.”

The Olympics, she said, “(are) definitely something I’m aiming for and would love to do, but it won’t define my career if I don’t.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Leslie Adler

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