The National Cutting Horse Association is still saddling up to host it's flagship event this year, and will do so with a new major sponsor.
In a boost for both the event and the organisation, especially in these times of instability and uncertainty, Interpath-4CYTE Horse (4CTYE) have become a major partner of the NCHA and the naming rights sponsor of the annual Futurity for the next two years.
Regarded as the biggest and richest indoor sporting horse event in the southern hemisphere, the news comes as the organisation prepares to run the 2020 event from October 27-November 8.
Originally scheduled to be held from May 27-June 7, the coronavirus epidemic and subsequent government restrictions meant it wasn't possible to run the event then. But fortunately they were able to liase with AELEC and find an alternate date that fitted in around other events at the venue.
"If we had to try and run it over the next sort of three months we probably might have had to consider cancellation but there was an opportunity for us to look at a later date which still suits us," NCHA general manager Tim Heath said.
"And the members really want the Futurity, the industry wants it."
"We're probably a sport that does have a professional component to it with our pro trainers as well so we've got to consider the needs of those guys who are relying on what we do as an industry."
Heath said the response from the members to the postponement has been positive.
"They were happy that we made the decision promptly so that if horses were in training now for May/June they have the option of what they want to do and when they can bring it back in and that gives them certainty to discuss a program with their trainers as well," he said.
As for 4CTYE coming on board, he said to it is an exciting opportunity for the organisation and also great recognition for the industry.
"It's exciting for us because I guess there's that element of uncertainty and the relationship with 4CYTE was based on us as an industry not just based on one event.
"So it gives us some confidence that we can have some industry-based support that could be there for a good period of time," Heath said.
Generally he said, they have had a good take up of sponsors leading into the event, even before the postponement, and the support since has only been encouraging.
"There's certainly been no sponsor ringing up and say what's going on or anything. They're backing us 100 per cent which is great for the sport," Heath said.
Interpath - 4CYTE Chief Executive, Damian Lubeek said it was an honour for the company to be able to increase their support of the NCHA and wider cutting horse community.
"From the very start the cutting community were early adopters of 4CYTE Horse seeing and feeling real benefit in using our product in both their young and older horses," he said.
"We are humbled daily with the positive results and feedback we receive and are delighted to be able to take this opportunity up with the NCHA in supporting the Futurity but also in supporting initiatives throughout the next two years that help grow the sport."