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Phase one of the new £3million Scottish National Equestrian Centre (SNEC) will be complete in the New Year, and to celebrate, local riders are being invited to try the facilities free of charge at an open day on 20 January.

“We hope to develop a centre of excellence and bring world-class athletes to the venue,” said SNEC director Carson Jones. “Ninety per cent of Scotland’s population lives within about 40min drive, and we plan a very broad equestrian remit, from vaulting to RDA events.”

An 80x40m indoor school and a 60x25m warm-up arena are almost complete, supplementing existing facilities including all-weather gallops and a cross-country course. The centre, which is attached to Oatridge College in West Lothian, has been part-funded by Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian and sportscotland.

“Scotland is actually very well served for equestrian facilities,” said Muriel Colquhoun, executive director of the Scottish Equestrian Association (SEA), “but Oatridge is easy to reach from the central belt and the Borders, and SEA member bodies will be entitled to a discount when hiring the facilities.”

A wide variety of competitions — from dog agility to affiliated jumping and dressage — are planned for the new centre, which is also due to host Scotland’s first ever FEI endurance ride in September.

Martin Arnott, a show jumper from Renfrewshire, has seen the work in progress and was impressed with the resources.

He said: “I’ve never jumped at Oatridge before but the facilities are absolutely fantastic and I’ll definitely be competing there in the future. There’s been little on the east side of Scotland by way of competition venues until now, so this is filling a big gap.”

The official opening is planned for late spring, but the new arenas should be ready for use for training and competition in late January. For more information, details and to book a place on the open day, contact Richard Negus (tel: 01506 864800).

  • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (21 December, ’06)