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6-8 AUGUST 2004

Record Interest In European Trial Event

ORGANISERS of the Hilton Herbs Alfred's Tower Endurance Ride are reporting massive interest from home and abroad in what will be an all-important trial event for next year's European Championship event at the Wiltshire venue.

The three-day festival of endurance, run on the Wiltshire /Somerset border from the National Trust's spectacular property at Stourhead, is entering its 11th year and has become one of the most prestigious events in the international calendar of what is the world's fastest growing horse sport. Sponsored for the second time by headline sponsors Hilton Herbs, this year's showcase 160km (100-mile) event will take place on Saturday 7 August over the route planned for next year's European Championship.

Organisers are expecting around 60 entries for the spectacular 100-mile class run over six phases in a single day. Among them will be some of the world's best horses from reigning open and European champions, the UAE and France as the teams line up to test the route in preparation for the defence of their titles next year. Double world champion Valerie Kanavy from the USA is among leading riders to have expressed an interest in taking part. Members of the British senior squad will be out in force. In 2005 as host nation, Britain will be able to field 12 riders and will be hoping to emulate the gold medal winning success of the British team when the European championships were last held here 13 years ago.

A new 160km route is being tested for the first time this year. Co-organiser and route designer Mike Dando said: "Thanks to the generous support of not only the National Trust but 95 other landowners, the route includes just 8km of roads out of the total of 160km."

Phase three of the route will cover Wincanton race course and for the first time, the National Trust has agreed to riders using the approach to the historic King Alfred's Tower.

As well as a huge international contingent, the chance to ride over the European Championship course has captured the imagination of endurance riders from across Britain. More than 40 Riding Club teams from as far afield as the North West have applied for entries for the annual British National Riding Club Championship held over 34 km (20 miles) on Sunday 8 August.

Co-organiser John Hudson said: "The chance to ride over part of the European Championship course has generated huge interest - we have had more applications than ever before from riding club teams."

Nearly 400 competitors are expected to take part in 11 classes at the Hilton Herbs Alfred's Tower endurance event tackling distances from 20-miles to the ultimate endurance distance of 100 miles in a day.

Tony Self of sponsors Somerset-based Hilton Herbs which makes health and performance supplements for horses said: "Hilton Herbs has developed a close relationship with the sport of endurance over a number of years. We were thrilled to be able to support last year's event whose success was demonstrated by the ride's selection as host of the 2005 European Championship. We look forward to welcoming riders from around the world to what should be a great event."

Rebecca Speight Property Manager for the National Trust at Stourhead said: " We are looking forward to hosting the event at Stourhead again this year, allowing riders, teams and their supporters access to this wonderful estate. We're also tremendously excited about the prospect of the European Championship being held here in 2005


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