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A longlist of 28 riders has been announced in preparation for the TREC European Championships (15-17 September 2006). Selectors will spend the following months choosing the British team of four and eight individuals to compete for medals. “This could be our year for team Gold,” says the British Horse Society (BHS).

The shortlist will be named in July before the final team and individuals are named prior to the Championships, to be held at East Luccombe on Exmoor in September. National TREC organiser Rob Jones said: “This is a fast-growing sport and the BHS is enthusiastic about staging a European event. We chose Exmoor because it is an area of outstanding natural beauty with a strong equestrian base.”

Helen Weston, from Kettering, Northamptonshire and her mother, Mary, of Tur Langton, Leicestershire are among those longlisted. Past team members David Hay-Thorburn, from Argyll and Hilary Barnard from Bristol have also been selected.

Shrewsbury’s Caroline Brammer, Jennie Free and Deborah Swan, both from Hampshire, Anthea Kendrick from Cumbria and Paul Turner of Powys, are all included on the list, which was announced by BHS national organiser Rob Jones.

Championships for Young Riders aged under 21 will be held at the same time.  So far only five have so far been named as “possibles” for team and individual places – Kathryn Bean, from Yorkshire; 2003 individual title holder Kate Ellison, Ayrshire; Helen Paine, Pembrokeshire; Gabby Rowley-Conwy, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and previous team member Alex Wells, Nottinghamshire.

Fifteen member-nations of the international governing body FITE (Federation Internationale de Tourisme Equestre) are eligible to compete at the Championships, and so far nine have indicated they will be there, together with invited – but not competitors in the championships – riders from the United States and Canada.

TREC (Technique De Randonnée Equestré De Competition) is the newest international discipline in the horse world and was developed to encourage riders to school their horses to meet the demands of riding over rough terrain.

The competition is held across two days, the first of which involves navigating a course of up to 45kms working from a precise route, aerial photographs or using a compass. On day two, riders demonstrate their control of their horse’s paces over a set distance, before negotiating a course of natural hazards and simple, cross-country obstacles similar to those they might encounter on a long hack.

According to Jones, British competitors are taking the challenge seriously, and a national team has a good chance of clinching a medal on home ground next September.