This year’s Hilton Herbs Alfred’s Tower Endurance Ride takes place over a new route, planned with next year’s European Championships in mind, in what will be an all-important trial event.
Britain hopes to host the championships, which were last held in the UK 13 years ago, at Stourhead House in Somerset, which is home to the annual three-day festival of endurance and to its showcase 160km event, the Alfred’s Tower Ride.
FEI officials will be present at the ride, assessing whether the event is up to international standard, although Maggie Maguire, speaking on behalf of Endurance GB is confident that there is no doubt over whether the European event will be held at Stourhead House next year.
“The FEI assessment is merely a formality. We were given to understand in October that the UK will be hosting next year’s European Championships, and once you are at this stage of running a trial, it’s pretty certain you’ve got the event.”
Co-organiser and route designer Mike Dando is said to have worked “extraordinarily hard” to ensure that the event can be run over private land where there is good going. The third phase of the route will cross Wincanton race course, while the National Trust has agreed to riders using the approach to the historic King Alfred’s Tower.
“The major ride which takes place at Stourhead House every year is known for the toughness of the going, what with it being in Somerset,” says Maggie Maguire. “But this year, the organisers have worked to produce excellent going in their striving to prove that we have the making’s of a championship ride.”
Members of the British senior squad are expected to be out in force, while some of the best horses, including the reigning open and European champions, as well as from France and the UAE. Double world champion Valerie Kanavy (USA) is also a possible competitor.