Eventing enthusiasts will be delighted by the news that the traditional three-day event format will be used during 2004 by all three of the Rolex Grand Slam events — Badminton, Burghley and Lexington.
These three four-star events will remain the ultimate challenge for horse and rider next year, with the roads and tracks and steeplechase sections being retained.
Both the steeplechase and the cross-country courses at Badminton will be a little shorter than usual, however, to give the horses the very best chance in Athens at the Olympic Games.
Event director for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, Hugh Thomas says: “Next year’s event is an important qualifier for the Olympic Games. It is also the most sought after prize in the sport of eventing and represents the pinnacle of achievement for any horse or rider.”
British Eventing chairman Mandy Stibbe believes the decision is the right one for the sport. She told HHO: “There have been extensive discussions going on between British Eventing and the three events and I believe it is really good news for the sport that we have retained the pinnacle of achievement which the traditional format offers.
“This is a very exciting time for eventing following Pippa Funnell’s amazing achievements last year, which helped bring the sport into the spotlight and focused attention on the “big three”. It would have been a terrible shame to have suddenly lost this ultimate challenge.”
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