Scotland’s first national centre of excellence for all equestrian sports, valued at £3m, has turned from a dream to reality in the wake of record funding awarded to the region’s horse industry.
Sportscotland this month announced a £450,000 grant towards Oatridge College’s plans for a national equestrian performance centre, which has already been granted planning approval .
The West Lothian-based college — a partner in the Scottish Racing Academy, providing equine and farriery courses — pocketed a further £450,000 funding windfall from Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothians.
Oatridge chief executive David James said the grants pushed total funding to £2.3m, opening the door for construction of phase one to kick off before the end of the year.
This will include an 80x40m all-weather indoor arena, boasting a 600-seat capacity and separate warm-up arena. A six-furlong all-weather gallop is already in place, with a cross-country course scheduled for completion over the next eight months.
Phase two, earmarked for completion by 2009, will introduce hospitality and administration facilities, together with a riders’ gym.
James said the centre would provide an ideal Olympic training venue in the lead-up to the 2012 London Games.
Scottish Equestrian Association executive director Muriel Colquhoun welcomed the news, stressing that it would provide critical practical experience for students.
The funding comes hot on the heels of a separate £140,000 cash injection (mostly from EventScotland) towards Blair Castle Horse Trials — a provisional host for the 2007 European Young Rider Championships.
In England, plans for a new national equine centre, forming part of a £200m revamp of the Royal Showground at Stoneleigh Park, have entered the “final stages”.
A Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) spokesman said funding was in place, planning permission had been granted and a development partner appointed. The application is awaiting final government approval.