Eventers will be back at Hickstead this summer after the loss of the eventing grand prix in 2014.
The popular class — in which eventers and showjumpers went head-to-head over a range of coloured poles and fixed cross-country fences — was traditionally held on the Thursday of the Longines Royal International Horse Show. But in 2014 it was withdrawn from the programme as Sky Sports dropped Thursday’s coverage, meaning that action from the cross-country fences in the grounds would not have been filmed and relayed back to the arena screens.
However, to solve this problem the class has been reformatted into the Amlin Plus eventers’ challenge.
The class will now be kept within the arena and only event riders will be eligible to compete, which will allow the cross-country fences to become more technical and demanding.
“Lots of equestrian fans were upset by the loss of the former eventing grand prix class, so we’re very pleased to be launching the eventers’ challenge in its place,” said Hickstead’s Lizzie Bunn.
This year the course will be designed by Richard Taylor. Mr Taylor has been part of the course-building team at two European eventing championships, the Asian Games and the Beijing Olympics.
All the fences will be rustic cross-country obstacles, with some fixed fences and others that can be knocked down.
A number of top riders have won the title during the class’ sixteen-year history, including eventers Pippa Funnell, Andrew Nicholson and Lucinda Fredericks, plus showjumpers Michael Whitaker and Shane Breen.
“There have been some very illustrious eventing champions competing at Hickstead over the years, and we’re pleased to be inviting the country’s top names once again,” added Lizzie.
The Royal International Horse Show runs at Hickstead (28 July – 2 August).
For more information visit: www.hickstead.co.uk