Endurance riders will tackle new routes at this year’s Golden Horseshoe Ride on Exmoor (15-17 May), with organiser Barbara Wigley hoping that leading partnerships will use the 160k (100 miles) class en route to selection for the European Championships.

“The 160km class is possibly the most demanding on the British calendar and is ideally suited to riders looking towards international competition,” said Mrs Wigley.

Home International chef d’equipe Maggie Pattinson said she would encourage all top riders to compete.

“Years ago, people would head to Exmoor to get some hard work under their belts,” she said. “We’ve gone through a phase of being a bit soft and worried the horse might break — but we’ve got to see if these horses are fit enough.”

“Exmoor is always demanding, but looking at what the course offers, it will be good,” she added. “Barbara Wigley is really putting the Horseshoe back on the map.”

Besides the 160k, 120k (75 miles), two-day and one-day 80k (50 miles) classes, the Golden Horseshoe will also stage a sponsored pleasure ride with a new family class — for one adult and two children over 25k (15 miles).

“The route takes them over some wonderful county, but we will exclude the more demanding areas, which are reserved for the competitive rides,” said Mrs Wigley.

This year’s course will take in Winsford Hill, Hawkridge, Cheriton Ridge, Badgworthy Water, Oareford, Lucott Cross and Exford Common, with the halfway halt in the 160k class at Honeymead.

For information, visit www.goldenhorseshoe-ride.co.uk or call Barbara Wigley, tel: 01643 834183.