The revamped UAE Windsor International Horse Trials is firing full throttle to produce an exciting, public-friendly event this year.
Windsor Horse Trials have hitherto been considered a competition for younger, less well-known riders, but this year’s inaugural Windsor International Team Challenge ensures a high-class and competitive line-up, including five out of ten of the world’s top ranked eventers.
Teams consist of four riders, including a captain and a rider of 25 and under, providing a rare opportunity for younger riders to compete on the international stage.
William Fox-Pitt, on the back of his first Badminton win on Sunday, will captain the GB team. He will be joined by Pippa Funnell and Sarah Cutteridge, as well as 23-year-old Zara Phillips.
None of the riders have yet confirmed which horses they will be riding, but in her first appearance in a British team, Zara will be particularly keen to impress at the event because of its strong family ties. She will be on home ground, and her mother, Princess Anne, has been president of the horse trials since their inception in 1979.
Andrew Hoy, three times Australian Olympic gold medallist, captains Australasia’s team, which includes fellow Australian Matt Ryan and New Zealanders Andrew Nicholson and youngster Tim Price, who successfully, if somewhat incorrectly, negotiated Badminton this year.
The USA’s team incorporates the successful O’Connor partnership. David O’Connor will captain Karen O’Connor, William Coleman and Cindy Rawson, while the Rest of Europe team will be captained by German Bettina Hoy. She will be joined by successful Greek eventer Heidi Antikatzidis, Constantin Van Rijckevorsel (Belgium) and Vittoria Panizzon (Italy).
The event will follow the new Olympic format of no roads and tracks and no steeplechase. Riders will go head to head against one other from each other team in all three disciplines.
Mandy Stibbe, Chairman of British Eventing commented: “There is a real buzz of excitement in the sport as Windsor is relaunched into the 2004 calendar in the run up to the Olympic Games in Athens. The innovative new International format and magnificent setting will surely establish Windsor’s future as one of the premier events in the world.
In a further bit of good news for the event, Sky TV has announced that it will be featuring the team challenge shortly after the event. Event Director Mike Tucker was delighted by the news:
“It can only be good for the sport as a whole to have one of the UK’s premier events showcased on television.”