The British Equestrian Federation has announced that combined funding from UK Sport and Sport England for 2005 to 2009 will be worth some £9m. The figure doesn’t include UK Sport’s award for Paralympic dressage, which will be announced at the end of the month.
Some £5.3m will come from UK Sport, which recently changed its strategy from a generic support to Olympic disciplines to a “no compromise” approach focused on gaining more medals.
“Our new investment strategy is designed to reinforce the best performing sports, support those that are developing and provoke positive change in those that are under-performing. The budget is bigger and it needs to be for Beijing, but we must guard against the temptation to spread it too thinly, which presented us with some tough decisions,” says UK Sport’s acting chief executive, Liz Nicholls.
As a result, the sports which did well in Athens obtained a significant increase in funding, and equestrian sports, which have a target of two medals in Beijing, have been granted £4.32m for the World Class Performance Programme for 2005-2009.
This is a staggering 56.5% increase over the previous period (2001-2004) and will be supplemented by the Paralympic award when it is announced.
“It is a significant rise and reflects the success of the equestrian teams in Athens,” says world class performance director Will Connell. “Some sports do not fully integrate Paralympic and Olympic, but we [do] and a lot of our services are centrally provided. The two [WCPP] awards support all programmes, including these central services.”
The award money will “continue to be allocated to a number of areas, including sport science and medicine support: veterinary, farriery, and physio education to assist riders and owners in keeping their horses sound.”
The WCPP award will also cover costs for centralised coaching and grants to individual riders for personal training, competition and championship expenses, and opportunities for riders to develop their own fitness. “A wide range [of services] to assist riders, owners and grooms,” says Connell.
UK Sport has granted an additional £974,000 for World Class Operations (the former Exchequer Funding). This fund, which saw an 18% rise over the previous period, goes towards governance, “to make sure that the federation and its bodies are providing world class governance to the sport,” explains Connell.
Sport England have also increased their allocation to equestrian sports to some £1.035m for 2005-2006, with a view to granting a total of about £4.035m in the next four years. The funding will support a number of initiatives across the BEF, including the World Class Start and Potential programmes, coaching, breeding, and promoting greater participation in the sport at all levels.
“We are delighted that the performance of our athletes has been recognised by the Sports Councils,” says BEF Chairman Andrew Finding. “We are pleased to see the confidence expressed in the federation as a whole, recognising the ability we have to deliver success through the contributions made by athletes, the horses and their owners, BEF’s Member Bodies, volunteers, committee members and the entire team working within the federation.”