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Ascot Racecourse To Host First Ever Speed Jumping Event

Show jumping and thoroughbred racing will join forces for the first time ever on Sunday 28th September as Ascot Racecourse witnesses the birth of a brand new equine sport, Speed Jumping.

The inaugural event, the £20,000 Ladbrokes Speed Jumping Challenge, will see sixteen of the UK’s top show jumpers - including Nick Skelton, Robert Smith and Michael and John Whitaker - race each other over four straight, identical lanes of seven fences over a distance of approximately 500 yards. The winner of each race will be the first past the post with the fewest fences down. The afternoon’s action will comprise four Heats of four, with the first two in each Heat progressing to the Semi-Finals and the best two in each Semi contesting the Final.

The concept of Speed Jumping was dreamt up by John Inverdale, one of the country’s leading sports broadcasters, Simon Jameson, a brand image expert used by companies such as Channel Four and Hutchinson, Nick Skelton one of the UK’s most successful show jumpers, and Charlie Brooks, ex-horse trainer turned media pundit.

“Sports have to become more broadcaster friendly if they want to grow and develop,” said Inverdale. “I can remember a time when show jumping received huge television audiences and was a regular fixture on our television screens. Over the course of the past decade, coverage of the sport has reduced considerably and I am very hopeful that we can rekindle that audience’s passion and interest with the launch of Speed Jumping.”

The inaugural Speed Jumping event will form part of the entertainment at the NSPCC Family Day on the Sunday of the 2003 Ascot Festival. The four Heats will commence at 13.15 and will be completed before the first flat race of the afternoon. The Semi-Finals will take place immediately following the second race on the racecard, beginning at 14.35. The Final, to be shown live on BBC Television, will take place at 16.00 followed by the prize presentation at 16.20 - also to be broadcast live. Highlights of the Heats and Semi-Finals will precede the live transmission of the Final.

The Speed Jumping course will be built over the last furlong of the National Hunt course with colour coded lanes to enable spectators and TV viewers to easily identify each rider’s progress. A whole new discipline and an exciting new challenge for the country’s leading show jumpers, not only will they have to be aware of what they are doing, but they will also have to be aware of how the other three competitors are progressing and react accordingly.

The riders will be seeded one to sixteen, based on the aggregate ranking of rider and horse, and lane positions will be drawn at random prior to each race.

Speed Jumping has received tremendous support from within all areas of the equine world with Ascot Racecourse, the BBC, the British Horseracing Board, Ladbrokes and Olympia all showing a great deal of faith in the pilot event.


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