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‘If you have a goal, you work harder’: eventers swap saddles in Badminton to Burghley challenge

A team of event riders is swapping four legs for two wheels to cycle from Badminton to Burghley in aid of an air ambulance.

Nine riders and supporters are hoping to make the 150-mile trip over two days, Covid-19 guidance permitting, on what would have been the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials weekend (5 to 6 September).

“We were looking for ways to keep ourselves fit during lockdown, so we took to our bikes,” Irish rider Alan Nolan told H&H.

“It was actually Louise Harwood who came up with the idea of cycling from Badminton to Burghley — we had looked into doing an official bike ride, but a lot were cancelled as a result of the pandemic, so she suggested doing one that linked the two events.

“The other reason is that most of use have needed, or know someone who has needed, the air ambulance at some stage. As a sport it provides a vital service in looking after riders, so it seemed the right fit.”

The team of Alan, Louise, Rosie Thomas, Bryony Wilson, Andrew Rogers, Carole Warren, Sasha Somer, Samantha Garness and Greg Harwood will leave the Gloucestershire venue at 10am on 5 September.

They will cover around 80 miles on the first day, stopping overnight near Banbury, aiming to arrive at the home of the Lincolnshire five-star at 4pm — roughly the time the final showjumping rounds would be finishing, had the 2020 event been able to go ahead.

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The team is aiming to raise a minimum of £5,000, which will go to the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, and have been fitting in training around work and riding.

“We are all relatively fit, but it’s a very good way of getting fitter, and most of us have only taken up cycling properly since lockdown,” said Alan, adding they will be passing a number of yards and events en route and would love for any supporters to give them a wave and if they can, a donation, as they pass.

“We are all the type of people who need an aim — like with horses, if you have a goal, you work harder to achieve it. Badminton and Burghley have been wonderful and nothing but supportive.”

Louise added: “Having both events cancelled is not just hugely disappointing for riders, it’s a huge loss to the fans, the sport and industry as a whole.

“We thought this would be a good way to mark the weekend and raise some money for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity — a cause close to many riders’ hearts.”

To donate, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alannolan4

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