Endurance GB will open competitive ride entries at the beginning of next month, following the Government’s announcement that outdoor sport can resume in England from 29 March, but the flagship Golden Horseshoe Ride is cancelled.
One of the calendar’s feature events, the famous ride on Exmoor was scheduled for 22-23 May, but it will not take place this year.
“A combination of personal circumstances” affecting the Chisholm family, who organise the event, has led to its cancellation, along with uncertainty over “the impact of the restrictions on accommodation on Exmoor itself as UK tourism picks up”.
Other highlights of the endurance season look secure, with King’s Forest Summer hosting the inter-regional championships on 18-20 June and Cirencester accommodating the home internationals on 9-11 July.
This year’s national championship rides will continue at the British Horse Feeds and Golden Paste Company’s Red Dragon Festival of Endurance, which is scheduled for a week earlier than usual, on 24-27 September.
The UK’s FEI ride calendar has not yet been confirmed pending updates on international travel arrangements.
The first competitive rides of the endurance season are now expected to take place at Bilbury Salt Way in the Cotswolds and Tilford in Surrey on 11 April.
Phil Nunnerley, chairman of Endurance GB, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement, and the re-opening of our sport is eagerly anticipated by everyone involved from riders to crews, organisers and volunteers. There is a great deal of excitement and momentum building for the 2021 season and we are anticipating a bumper year for the sport.
“Our major championship rides are all held at large venues which lend themselves to social distancing. So while these events may not have the usual social accompaniments this year, we are as confident as we can be that they will run, restrictions permitting.”
He added that the cancellation of the 2021 Golden Horseshoe Ride was “a great pity” but for “entirely understandable reasons as the Chisholm family will be re-opening their business the previous weekend but there were also uncertainties connected with accommodation locally and attempts to find an alternative weekend later in the year had drawn a blank”.
Endurance GB announced that Covid safety measures would be put in place at all events, including “health pre-screening and a full audit trail for all attendees”.
“Huge demand” is anticipated when entries open, and numbers are expected to be capped according to the social distancing capacities of each venue.
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Esther Young, Endurance GB’s operations director, said: “It will be vitally important for attendees to continue to follow the Covid safety measures, and we anticipate that we will be living with social distancing for much of the season.
“We are confident in our measures. There were zero transmissions at post lockdown events last year, and we were running events safely right up to the Christmas lockdown.”
Endurance GB’s calendar may still be subject to change and riders are being advised to check the sport’s website and social media regularly for updates. Welsh rides remain on hold at present pending announcements from the Welsh First Minister on the plans to relax Covid restrictions in Wales.
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