Express Eventing have today announced the athletes who will compete in the final Series qualifier at the Festival of British Eventing, Gatcombe Park on 6th and 7th August. The athletes will be hoping to secure a qualifying place, which will see them compete in the final at the Horse of the Year Show at Birmingham’s LG arena on 4th October and take home a share of the £10,000 prize money available at the qualifier.

This compact thrill a minute version of eventing has this year being rolled out nationally and will see dressage to music, cross country and showjumping being completed in one arena. The sport has been integrated within five prestigious and established annual shows throughout the country. The Festival of British Eventing marks the closing of the 2011 qualifying stages.

This year for the first time the sport is no longer invitational, and is instead open to any qualifying Young or Senior rider combination wishing to apply.

Stephen Renouard, Equestrian Director for the sport of Express Eventing commented “We’re thrilled to be bringing Express Eventing to the Festival of British Eventing. This will provide a real opportunity for true Eventing enthusiasts to see the sport in all its glory which makes it a real showcase event for us. We have had unprecedented interest from riders for this qualifying event”.

Competing Athletes:

-Matthew Wright (GBR). Nottinghamshire based Matthew has represented Great Britain at the European Championships. He has competed at International level, and has had particular success in Ireland where he was winner at Ballindenisk Horse Trials and the World Cup Qualifier. Matthew has so far won all three of the previous Express Eventing qualifiers.

-Laura Collett (GBR). Having already won 7 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze medals for her country Laura took the Eventing world by storm with a great run at this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, and has now been selected to the Equestrian Team GBR Senior Squad, which will see her travel to Luhmuhlen in Germany for the European Championships at the end of August.

-Alex Hua Tian (CHN). Hampshire based Alex has competed in an Express Eventing competition every year so far, the only rider to have done so, and he was placed second last year. Alex was the first ever rider to represent China at the Olympic games when he competed in Beijing 2008. Alex just missed out on the Young Rider qualification at the Bolesworth Showjumping Classic, but did qualify at the CLA Game Fair being placed 2nd just behind Matthew Wright.

-Oliver Townend (GBR). Shropshire based Townend was the winner of the inaugural Express Eventing in 2008 and came runner-up at the Express Eventing Qualifier at the Bolesworth Castle Showjumping Classic. He is a previous winner of both the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. He has also represented Great Britain.

-Fiona Hobby (GBR). Wiltshire based Fiona competes at International 4**** level and was 7th in the Blenheim Horse Trials CCI*** last year. Fiona was placed second at the Express Eventing Lincolnshire Show qualifier.

-Sam Griffiths (AUS). Dorset based Sam is originally from Australia. He recently had some very successful seasons, being placed 3rd at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in 2009, and placed 4th this year. This will be Sam’s first time competing in the Express Eventing Series.

-Laura Shears (GBR). Warwickshire based Laura has competed extensively at 3*** and 4**** International level. Her most notable result was a 24th placing at Pau 4**** in France last year.

-Georgie Spence (GBR). Wiltshire based Georgie has had consistently good results at 4**** International level, with clears at Badminton, Burghley and Pau for the last 4 years. She has ridden for her country, taking Junior Team Silver in 2006, and Young Rider Team Gold in 2008 and 2009. Georgie competed in last year’s Express Eventing achieving a 5th placing.

-Rachel Lupton (GBR). North Yorkshire based Rachel has competed up to 4**** level and is regularly placed at Advanced level. She was 3rd in this year’s Belton U25 Advanced, and also won the Floors Castle Horse Trials Open Intermediate. Rachel is also a member of the Regional Foundation Squad, designed to nurture future talent in the sport. Her first taste of Express Eventing was at the CLA Game Fair qualifier.

-Nicola Baguley (GBR). Nottinghamshire based Nicola was a member of the Junior and Young Rider Great British teams, winning three individual medals at the Pony Europeans in successive years. Nicola produces her own horses.

-James Hale (GBR). Nottinghamshire based James rides for Matthew Wright in his University breaks from the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. The Express Eventing Series first timer has partnered several horses up to Intermediate level and taken part in two JRN Championships. James has also taken part in team chasing in the previous two seasons.

-Jess Butler (GBR). Retford based Jess progressed through ponies with success in Showjumping and Eventing before moving on to horses at 13 years old. Since her A-levels she has been fortunate enough to follow in the footsteps of riders such as Jeanette Brakewell and Sarah Cohen and to ride and train with the Lawrence David Event Team and has now set up her own yard.

-Alice Kent (GBR). Sussex base Alice has been eventing since she was 15, and now events four horses. Alice was lucky enough at the age of 19 to be offered the ride on Spider VI, an ex member of the Junior team. The horse saw her progress two levels from BE100 to Intermediate in just one season.

-Shari Butchart (GBR). Essex based Shari is a former Grade A Showjumper and has previously competed at the Horse of the Year Show. She also represented Great Britain in that discipline on both the Junior and Young Rider teams. This is her third season of eventing after making the switch.

-Kate Lukas (GBR). Surrey based Kate has evented professionally since graduating with a Management degree in 2004. Kate has previously won the Derby House owner-rider Novice championship at Henbury Hall on Prime Suspect III, qualifying for the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe, has trained a horse to selection for the World Class Equine Pathway and been placed at the British Dressage Winter Championships.

-Sienna Myson-Davies (GBR). Surrey based Sienna was double Junior Gold Medallist at the European Championships in 2008, and won the Junior Final Trial the year after. She has taken a break from the sport since 2009 owing to horse injury, but is now back on form.


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