Last April, the news that the Eventing Grand Prix was no longer to be held at Hickstead was met by widespread disappointment. Now, the Directors of the All England Jumping Course are delighted to announce a return of the class for this season, with a new and exciting format.
The Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge will be held on the Thursday of the Longines Royal International Horse Show (28 July – 2 August). The class will now be kept within the arena and only event riders will be eligible to compete, which will allow the cross-country fences to become more technical and demanding.
“Lots of equestrian fans were upset by the loss of the former Eventing Grand Prix class, so we’re very pleased to be launching the Eventers’ Challenge in its place,” says Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn.
This year, the course will be designed by Richard Taylor, who has been part of the course-building team at two European eventing championships, the Asian Games and the Beijing Olympics. All the fences in Hickstead’s Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge will be rustic cross-country obstacles, with some fixed fences and others that can be knocked down.
The Eventing Grand Prix had been held at Hickstead since 1998, and was the first event of its kind to be held at an international competition. A number of top riders have won the title during its sixteen year history, including eventers Pippa Funnell, Andrew Nicholson and Lucinda Fredericks, plus showjumpers Michael Whitaker, Shane Breen and Trevor Breen. Eventer Gary Parsonage was the most successful rider of all in the class, winning a total of four times.
“There have been some very illustrious eventing champions competing at Hickstead over the years, and we’re pleased to be inviting the country’s top names once again for the Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge,” Lizzie adds.
Amlin Plus were the sponsors of the former Eventing Grand Prix class from 2010 onwards, and they have generously agreed to sponsor the new Eventers’ Challenge class. “Amlin Plus is delighted the Eventers’ Challenge is on the Hickstead schedule,” said David Ashby, Managing Director of Amlin Plus. “We sponsored the Eventing Grand Prix for several years and it’s always been an exciting competition that draws competitors and crowds alike.”