The history of Land Rover and eventing

  • No less than 80 Land Rovers will be acting as official vehicles at Burghley Horse Trials next weekend (7 – 10 September), as Land Rover takes on the mantle as title sponsor of the prestigious event, for the second year.

    “We think the vehicles fit in exactly with the elegance and style of the event,” Matt Casey from Land Rover told HHO. “Burghley 2005 was an excellent competition with a breathtaking climax and we are delighted to be back again this year.” The new Freelander 2 and the Range Rover for 2007 will both be making a debut appearance at this year’s event.

    Burghley Horse Trials, according to John Edwards, Land Rover UK managing director, has a natural association with Land Rover. “Guts, control, power and responsiveness are what riders require of their horses and are the core values built into every Land Rover,” he said. “With the added excitement of the Rolex Grand Slam, this year’s event is set to be a thrilling climax to the eventing calendar.”

    But Land Rover’s commitment to equestrian sports goes back much further than the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. After striking up a relationship with Captain Mark Phillips in 1980, the company funded a programme of training sessions and bursaries for young riders, created and run by Phillips, and branded the ‘Range Rover Team’.

    Two years later Land Rover became one of the original sponsors of the British Open Championship which first ran at Gatcombe Park in 1983, also organised by Captain Mark Phillips. Two decades later the event has blossomed into the Festival of British Eventing, incorporating the British Novice and Intermediate Championships, and Land Rover has continued as associate sponsor and Official Vehicle Supplier of the event each year.

    Meanwhile the company’s interest in Britain’s young talent has also continued. Land Rover supported the British Young Riders Team in three day eventing from the mid 1980’s and continued for almost 20 years. More recently, Land Rover extended its support for Eventing through sponsorship of the global series known as ‘The Land Rover World Three Day Event Rider Rankings’, which began in 1992 and ran for six years.

    The company was also one of the original sponsors of a novice horse trials at Gatcombe Park, which first ran in March 1993. Two years later Land Rover took over as title sponsor of the event, now known as Gatcombe CIC two-star, funding the construction of a new intermediate cross-country course designed by HRH The Princess Royal. Land Rover will be returning to Gatcombe Park on 16 – 17 September this year, to support this popular late season event.

    Land Rover is now official vehicle supplier to a large number of horse trials throughout the season including Bramham International Horse Trials in June, The Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park in the early part of August, Thirlestane Castle Horse Trials two weeks later before culminating with title sponsorship of autumn’s eventing classic – The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

    The Land Rover West Country Challenge is the newest member of Land Rover’s equestrian sponsorship portfolio. On 24 September pre-novice competitors in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset will take part in the final leg of this new league, held at the Bricky One Day Event in West Dorset (for more information visit www.britisheventing.com).

    Land Rover’s new Discovery 3 and the Range Rover Sport will be available to test drive at Burghley along with the newest additions to the Land Rover stable – the all-new Freelander 2 and the Range Rover for 2007.

    If you are in the mood, Land Rover has got plenty of adventures for you at Burghley. Whatever your off-road driving experience, try a passenger ride in one of the latest vehicles on the ‘Terrapod’ – a simulated off-road course that includes a 15 foot descent from an articulated truck. Land Rover will also be staging a trailer-reversing competition all week. Visitors will have the chance to hone their reversing techniques and show-off their skills, with the chance to win a weekend off-roading at one of the nine Land Rover Experience Centres around the UK.

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