A host of the world’s top event riders will compete in the Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge at the All England Jumping Course next week.
Sir Mark Todd, who will be competing in his eighth Olympic Games in Rio, will head to Hickstead to compete in the class on NZB Land Vision. New Zealand’s Rio team reserve Tim Price also lines up in the Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge with Xavier Faer. Likewise, Pippa Funnell is due to ride Billy Cuckoo while Tina Cook, Britain’s travelling reserve, is entered with Star Witness. British-based Swede Ludwig Svennerstal is also taking part before heading out to South America to compete at his second Olympic Games.
But the Olympians among the field will certainly face some tough opposition. Ireland’s Esib Power is entered with her former event horse Doonaveeragh O One, a horse who obviously relishes competing in the International Arena at Hickstead. He finished third in the Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix in 2012 with Esib’s brother Robbie – a Grand National-winning jockey – while the pair also won the British Speed Derby in 2013. Esib has since taken back the ride on “Tommy” and they were runner-up to Andrew Nicholson in the first Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge 12 months ago, before finishing 10th in last month’s Equestrian.com Derby.
Tom McEwen is back for another crack at the title – this time with his horse Diesel. Other top riders taking part include Laura Collett, Holly Woodhead, Jeanette Brakewell, Paul Tapner and Joseph Murphy. The crowds will no doubt be delighted to see Ben Hobday compete with Mulrys Error, known as the V8 Supercob.
David Ashby, Managing Director of class sponsors Amlin Plus, said: “It is great to see such a terrific line up of competitors in the class again, including last year’s runner up Elizabeth Power and the legendary Sir Mark Todd. The main arena at Hickstead is one of a kind and I look forward to seeing how the eventers tackle this year’s course.”
The Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge see competitors tackle a course of cross-country fences in Hickstead’s International Arena. Some of the fences are fixed and others can be knocked down, which incurs a four second time penalty. Many of Hickstead’s famous obstacles feature including the less steep side of the Derby bank, the road crossing, the Irish bank, the Devil’s Dyke and the lake in the middle of the arena.
The class will be televised live on Hickstead.tv, with highlights shown later on Horse & Country TV.