Para-equestrian sport could become “more competitive” thanks to new funding to help riders from around the world break Team GB’s monopoly on the medals.

A fund of €25,500 (£22,250), to be split between 15 riders in the run-up to London 2012, has been put up by European development capital fund Eurovestech plc.

The grants are only available to athletes who haven’t won medals at the Paralympics, World Championships or World Equestrian Games since 2004.

But applicants need to be quick — riders must apply through their national federations by 15 August.

Trond Asmyr of the governing body for horse sport, the FEI, said: “We are keen to support athletes who are doing their utmost to compete at the London 2012 Paralympics for the first time or to improve on their past performances.”

The British Equestrian Federation welcomed the move.

Equestrian performance director Will Connell said: “We are lucky in this country to benefit from funding through UK Sport. This new funding will help support nations that don’t have the same opportunities.”

Gold medal-winning para dressage rider Simon Laurens, who retired from top level competition due to financial pressures, among other reasons this year (news, 13 January), said: “Even with UK Sport funding it’s hard. For countries that don’t have that, this is a great initiative.

“Riders who might not have had opportunities in the past may now be able to break into the upper echelons of the sport.”

Xavier Gonzalez of the International Paralympic Committee added: “Para equestrians from small nations find it especially difficult to secure the necessary funding for training.”

The fund will be shared among the successful riders and there is no limit to the number of riders per country who can apply.

Riders using borrowed horses are also eligible.

Successful candidates will be informed by 1 September.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (11 August, 2011)