Euston Park: Prestigious equestrian championship comes to county
A STAR-STUDDED field of riders and horses - including Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum - is set to line up for a major international equestrian championship near Thetford.
A field of 153 riders from 38 countries are due to take part in the Longines FEI World Endurance Championships this Saturday at Euston Park at the Euston Estate.
Several landowners and farmers have given access to their land to enable the organisers to create a 100-mile route over the Breckland course covering heathland, forest tracks and open farmland. Hundreds of local volunteers will be involved in the event, which is expected to draw around 2,000 people including participants, crews, officials and spectators.
The Minister of Sport Hugh Robertson MP will open the championships this evening alongside event host the Duke of Grafton.
The Duke of Grafton said: “At the first endurance ride held here in 24 July 2005 it was my late father’s vision that one day, we would host a World Championship. It is very sad for myself and family that he is not here to see that dream realised, but I know that he would be very proud of all that has been achieved.
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“We wish all competitors and crew well and offer our best wishes for a championship combining the highest level of sportsmanship, team work and camaraderie that the wonderful sport of endurance can offer.”
His mother, Lady Euston, said the “prestigious” sporting event was really “the equivalent of an Olympic event in itself”. “It’s very important to Suffolk because Suffolk is ideally suited for this sort of event. We have the best vets in the world at Newmarket and all the expertise there to fall back on and we have got 153 of the world’s leading endurance riders coming.”
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She added: “I think it’s great to have it in the local area and I think local people, hotels, B & Bs, everything like that are obviously benefiting as everybody has to stay somewhere.”
The event, which will see three former world champions tackle the course, has been organised by Newmarket-based Janah Management Company.
Martin Welch, from Diss, a member of the Iceni Group of Endurance GB which represents endurance riders in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, has been selected for an official role as a member of the ground jury at the championship.
He said: “We believe that East Anglia will give our international visitors a very warm welcome and that the spectacular setting of Euston Park will provide a memorable backdrop to the event.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of Dubai, will lead a UAE defence of its world team title for the third time in succession.
Entry for spectators to the event is free. It starts at 7am.