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Top riders gear up for virtual three-day event

Top riders from across the world are preparing for a three-day event in early May as normal.

But although no real competitions are running owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the enterprising Rachel Wakefield, of Uptown Eventing, is organising a virtual event instead, in aid of medical charities, from 6 to 10 May.

Rachel told H&H confirmed entrants include William Fox-Pitt, Gemma Tattersall, Sam Griffiths, Will Furlong and Laura Collett, taking part in a range of different challenges.

The aim is for the event to be streamed on the Virtual Eventing 2020 website, with each competitor taking part at home, and the video streamed. And all three phases will be involved, as well as a trot-up “as you’ve never seen before”.

Top FEI dressage judges have been booked to judge riders’ CCI5*-level tests, which have already been ridden and videoed at home to adhere to British Equestrian Federation guidelines but will be judged live, while the cross-country and showjumping will comprise a number of challenges for the riders, on foot.

“Everything’s going to be in a 20x60m arena, with everyone following the same plan but doing it at home,” Rachel said, adding that the details of the showjumping phase – as well as the challenges set for the cross-country – have been shared with the riders.

“I want everyone to know it’s going to be super-safe.”

Rachel said she has equestrian broadcaster Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes lined up to front the event, and eventer Spencer Sturmey poised to provide a Gogglebox-style commentary.

“Competitors will organise their own bits themselves – and if they want flowers at the end of the trot-up, for example, they can have them,” Rachel said.

“I just want it to be a bit of fun and raise money for the charities. Thousands of people would have gone to the events that have been cancelled, and if each of them donated £5, we could raise hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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“I’ve had so much support from so many people, and I just want people to be able to have some fun, even when there’s no events to focus on, and raise money for a fantastic cause.”

The website will also feature a virtual shopping village, with a range of offers and discounts available, and many retailers have agreed that a percentage of profits will go to the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 emergency fund.

The first live-stream will be at 6pm on 29 April, when the riders’ draw will made.

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