The Arab Horse Society Marathon returns to Sherwood, Nottinghamshire this year for its 30th anniversary, with an impressive line-up of endurance veterans and talented young blood dominating the line-up.
The course at Thoresby Park has been considerably altered this year to allow for much improved conditions. Last year, a significant length of the race was on tarmac roads, and combined with the rock-hard ground, was not conducive to happy horses finishing in quick times.
This year, the ground is much better, and the 26 ¼ mile course runs across forest tracks and open spaces, with not too many hills to distract horse and rider.
Senior Arab stallion Chatanz heads the field. During their long and fruitful partnership, he and rider Leslie Dunn have recorded a series of impressive victories.
The 14-year-old started out his career in Arab racing, where he notched up several wins, progressing eventually to endurance. Nearly always places, anything but Grade 1 results are virtually unheard of for the stallion. Leslie will be hoping to improve their record of fourth and best-conditioned horse in this race last year.
There are several other strong entries in the race. Jim Lane, who won the marathon in 2001, rides Thia, who is now an advanced-level endurance horse; Becky Broughton, will also stake her claim. She suffered recent disappointment when missing out on a place on the British team for the World Championships in Dubai next January, although she is travelling reserve.
There are less than thirty entries in the race, but organiser Caroline Sussex explains that it is “a quality entry rather than a quantity.” It is, in any case, likely to be a highly competitive event.