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Olympic stars line up for the Amlin Plus Eventers Challenge

Pippa Funnell is among the entries for the Amlin Plus Eventers' Challenge. Image (c) Julian PortchPippa Funnell is among the entries for the Amlin Plus Eventers' Challenge. Image (c) Julian Portch

Olympic stars line up for the Amlin Plus Eventers Challenge

A number of Olympic-bound event riders will compete in the popular Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge at the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead next week (28 July).

Sir Mark Todd, who will be competing in his eighth Olympic Games in Rio, will head to Hickstead shortly before the Games 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 – who recently got the call up to Team GB’s eventing team – is due to ride Billy Cuckoo in the Eventers’ Challenge, while Tina Cook, Britain’s travelling reserve, is entered with Star Witness.

British-based Swede Ludwig Svennerstal is also competing at Hickstead, 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.

Third last year in this class was Tom McEwen, who is back for another crack at the title – this time with his horse Diesel. Other talented riders who are taking part include Laura Collett, Holly Woodhead, Jeanette Brakewell, Australia’s Paul Tapner and Ireland’s Joseph Murphy.

The crowds at Hickstead will no doubt be delighted to see Ben Hobday compete with Mulrys Error, known as ‘Supercob’. The pair have won legions of fans with their cross-country performances at Badminton and Burghley, but sadly Ben missed most of last season because he was battling cancer. Fortunately he has made a good recovery and he made an emotional return to four-star eventing at this year’s Badminton Horse Trials.

David Ashby, Managing Director of class sponsors Amlin Plus, said: “On behalf of Amlin Plus I would like to wish all the riders competing the best of luck.  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 will see these riders and others 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 adds four seconds to the rider’s time. 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.

Tickets for the Longines Royal International Horse Show (26-31 July) are available online, with savings available on all tickets bought in advance of each day.

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