One young rider will walk away as winner of Express Eventing next summer with a big enough cheque to buy a top-class horse.
So says the event’s joint-organiser Clive Hetherington, who has had to drop plans of luring top riders to the controversial competition at Stoneleigh next July.
Barbury International Horse Trials takes place the same weekend, and top riders told H&H last month they could not afford to discard Express Eventing — which offered £100,000 to the winner at its inaugural running at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in November 2008.
“We had so many issues with the date clash that we can’t go for the premier riders,” said Mr Hetherington. “Instead we’ll put on a ‘youth academy’ Express Eventing, giving younger riders the chance to win a big prize.”
Between 12 and 15 young riders will be invited to take part in the event on 11 July, which forms part of a new “Festival of the Horse” — replacing the Royal Show at Stoneleigh.
Though Mr Hetherington could not confirm the prize-money, he said first prize is likely to be over £50,000 and “substantial enough to buy a top-class horse”.
The following year, organisers plan to return to elite-level competition.
• For more on this story, see this week’s issue of H&H (31 December).