Windsor bids for joint 2009 Europeans

  • Windsor Castle has been pitched to the FEI as the British venue to host a joint 2009 European Dressage and Show Jumping Championships.

    The British Equestrian Federation (BEF), which also plans to lobby for the 2011 European Eventing Championships at a yet to be decided venue, lodged its bid during the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Aachen.

    “We understand no other nation is bidding for the 2009 dressage and that only Copenhagen is competing against us for show jumping,” said BEF chief executive Andrew Finding.

    An obvious selling point for Windsor, he said, was the unique British backdrop: an official residence of The Queen and the largest occupied castle in the world.

    However, Windsor’s bid — put together by Royal Windsor Show organiser Simon Brooks-Ward’s H Power Group — did not so much beat competitors in the tender process, as find itself the last one standing. Other contenders, UNEX Towerlands and Hartpury College, pulled out before the 10 July deadline for final submissions with business plans.

    “They expressed the view that they did not have the time to do all the work that was needed,” said Mr Finding.

    Hickstead, which hosted the 1999 European Show Jumping Championships and the 2003 European Dressage Championships, did not submit a tender after the race was launched on 18 May. This was due to the time constraints in the lead-up to the Hickstead Derby and Royal International Horse Show.

    Mr Finding, who will lead a delegation before the FEI’s jumping committee in Lausanne on 29 September, said H Power Group did “not cut any corners”.

    Simon Brooks-Ward said he had no complaint about the tender deadline, adding: “I’ve always thought that if you want something hard enough you’ll pull out all the stops to make it happen.”

    Aside from the backdrop, he said Windsor Castle’s selling points included it being “within spitting distance” of Heathrow and surrounded by hotels. The venue boasts a permanent 120x50m all-weather surface arena, completed last year, costing £500,000.

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