GB driving team to miss World Equestrian Games

  • For the first time since the inception of the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in 1990, Britain is unlikely to field a full driving team to this year’s event in Kentucky (25 September-10 October).

    The British Horse Driving Trials Association (BHDTA) estimates that transporting a full team — with 15 horses and six carriages — would cost around £250,000.

    Tony Bache, chairman of the BHDTA, said: “It is very disappointing. We may have one or two individuals who will pay for themselves to go, but we will not be sending a full team.

    “It’s an obscene amount of money and people just can’t justify spending it.”

    British Equestrian Federation (BEF) World Class performance director Will Connell told H&H that despite disappointing fund-raising activity, full teams will be sent in all other WEG disciplines — dressage, endurance, eventing, para-equestrianism, reining, show jumping and vaulting.

    “People are having to self-fund, but Britain has to be there,” said Mr Connell.

    Last summer, H&H reported that the BEF faced a £500,000 shortfall to send teams, due to the high costs of transporting horses, riders and equipment to Kentucky, plus inflated accommodation prices.

    It will cost an estimated £1.25-£1.5million to send all eight teams. Olympic and Paralympic disciplines are lottery-funded by UK Sport, but the remaining disciplines will have to fund the majority themselves.

    The BEF launched a series of fund-raising efforts to enable a full team to go to WEG — including an online auction, raffle and a supporter’s club — but confirmed it has not yet reached the £500,000 target.

    BEF spokesman Anna Greenway added: “WEG fund-raising is ongoing. More prizes are being added to the auction [at the time of going to press only six were listed online].

    “We are also due to start taking the team GB horsebox raffle round the country shortly — we still have much to do and need support from all.”

    But Mr Connell questioned why the BEF had not been more financially prepared for WEG: “We need to ask ourselves, as a federation, whether we have done enough to get the team to Kentucky.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (28 January, ’10)

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