Britain is bidding to host the 2012 World four-in-hand championships at Great Leighs racecourse in Essex.

The British Horse Driving Trials Association (BHDTA) is currently preparing a bid to submit to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

The championships has run biennually since 1972.

Britain has hosted it twice, at Ascot in 1986 and at Windsor in 1980, when Team GB comprising George Bowman, Prince Philip and Alwyn Holder won gold and George Bowman took individual silver.

BHDTA chairman Tony Bache said: “We are delighted the bid is going ahead. Great Leighs has facilities that are second to none and will make a perfect setting for such a prestigious championships.”

Set in 430 acres, Great Leighs features a one-mile floodlit Polytrack, grandstand with covered viewing for several thousand people, restaurants, VIP facilities, secure stabling, doping control facilities and ancillary arenas.

Great Leighs chairman John Holmes said: “It was always our intention to bolt top-class equestrianism on to the racecourse project, and we are delighted that the BHDTA feels Great Leighs is worthy as a World title venue.

“This is an ideal opportunity to showcase this great sport.”

A company — World Championship UK Ltd — under chairman Terry Chambers, owner of Ashfields Carriage Driving Centre, has been set up to push the bid, alongside the British Equestrian Federation.

The organising team will be chaired by Andrew Cowdery.

“This is a massive opportunity for driving trials and has widespread support [within driving],” said Andrew. “The infrastructure and proximity of Great Leighs to ports and airports is excellent.

“We are also aiming to create a legacy for driving after the championships with an annual international driving trial, hopefully to run alongside Royal Windsor,” he added.

Andrew said that Germany, Hungary and Poland are also planning to bid for the event.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 December, ’08)