Windsor International Horse Trials (WIHT) looks set to re-launch itself in May as one of the major features of the international eventing calendar.
Windsor Great Park will continue as the elegant setting for the event, which has new sponsors, a changed site, improved going, and incorporates a new and dynamic competition format – the Windsor International Team Challenge.
The title sponsor of the event, although confirmed, has yet to be announced, and organisers say that in addition, they are delighted to have secured some big names as fence sponsors, which they hope to announce in the coming weeks.
Land Rover are confirmed as the official vehicle sponsors and The Castle Hotel, Windsor, is the event’s official hotel. Pertemps and Arena Leisure are supporting the team challenge as team sponsors of Great Britain and Australasia respectively.
In the Windsor International Team Challenge, riders from four international teams will ride head-to-head in the three eventing disciplines: dressage, cross-country and show-jumping, although neither roads and tracks nor the steeplechase will form a part of the event.
Teresa Cash, commercial and communications manager at WIHT, explains the judging system for the event: “The Team Challenge is to all intents and purposes the Ryder Cup on horseback – you are playing against the player, riding against the rider.”
Changes to the site involve making it more compact, and concentrating the focal point of the event. There will be two main arenas this year, to hold a wide variety of special attractions including gundog displays, celebrity bicycle polo and the Household Cavalry Musical Ride.
“We’ve moved the main arenas to a new site. The start and finish of the new cross-country course, as well as the first and last fences, will be in the main arena, which will make the event more compact and give it atmosphere,” said event director Mike Tucker
A “Formula 1” style pits area for the team challenge is expected to be busy on the Sunday, when interviews and autographs will be available, as well as opportunities to watch warm ups.
Jonathan Warr, one of the most experienced cross-country course designers in the sport is designing a new, combined course for both the three-day event and the team challenge, although the team challenge is expected to be run over fewer fences. The course is themed around the park and its activities and history, and technical improvements to the going mean that it will be vastly better than in previous years.
Tickets for the event can be booked online at www.windsorhorsetrials.co.uk, or call the information line (tel: 01666 505190).