The 2004 eventing season kicked off at the weekend with the first two
one-day events of the season at Isleham, Cambridgeshire and Stilemans, Surrey both hailed a huge success.

Hundreds of competitors enjoyed an early season run in these popular events, in which amateurs rub shoulders with the top professionals.

Stilemans attracted a number of big names including William Fox-Pitt, Andrew Nicholson, Tina Cook, Pippa Funnell and Mary King, while Matt Ryan’s decision to attend Isleham proved a good one when he won the intermediate novice section with Master Butler and open novice with Slight Of Hand.

Stilemans organiser Veronica Spackman was delighted with how the event went: “We had a lot of positive feedback from competitors who said how much they had enjoyed it. The track is always good, but the whole site benefited from the dry weather prior to the event.

“We had no problem during the day, bar a couple of minor falls, but neither the vet nor the doctor were required. The paramedics went out once but the girl was back on her feet in minutes.”

With the season now underway, around 7,000 horse and rider partnerships are expected to take part in at least one of around 190 events, which will be held at more than 160 locations around the country before the season concludes in October.

The season’s premier events will carry an increased profile this year as attention focuses on the British eventing team’s prospects at the Athens Olympics during August. In particular, The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials at the end of April will play an important role in the final team selection.

Chief executive of British Eventing, Peter Durrant, says: “We are looking forward to a successful season and to continuing the growth that the sport has enjoyed over the past few years.

“This year we have brought in a number of new initiatives, such as the four year old Breeding Championships – the first time horses this age will be able to compete. We hope that this will bring an ideal introduction for talented young horses to start their affiliated eventing careers.”

A full list of fixtures is available on the British Eventing website: www.britisheventing.co.uk