Endurance enthusiasts will have a bigger choice of rides this season thanks to an expanded ride calendar.
Endurance GB, led by newly elected chairman Wendy Dunham, has increased the number of 160km (100-mile) rides as well as international FEI events. The move is part of a bid to widen the pool of British riders qualified to compete at next year’s senior European Championships, which are being hosted in Britain for the first time since 1993.
As host nation, Britain can field 12 riders at the championships, being held at the Hilton Herbs Alfred’s Tower venue at Mere, Wilts, in August 2005.
Margaret McKiddie, a member of Endurance GB’s rides committee, says: “Our main aim is to look positively to 2005. We’ve got to get a good bunch of people qualified to go to the championship.”
Britain now has seven FEI rides. The first FEI 160km will be held at a new event, the Southdowns Festival, on 15 May. Cirencester Park hosts an FEI 160km fixture in June as well as being the venue for the Summer Solstice event and British national championship.
A new 160km team event at Newmarket, organised by Emirates Endurance, takes place at the end of June. However, the FEI ride at the Arabian International Festival at Fontwell, Sussex, which was staged for the first time last year, will not take place this year.
In August, all eyes will then turn to the Hilton Herbs Alfred’s Tower ride, the trial for the 2005 European Championships; but for riders looking to secure a less testing qualification ride, the new Thetford Forest FEI 160km (29 August) could be the one to aim for.
An announcement concerning the British team’s participation at the World Championships in the UAE, rescheduled to January 2005 for climatic reasons, is expected at the end of January.