Organizers of the Longines FEI World Endurance Championships at Euston Park, near Newmarket, Suffolk, UK have released final details of the 160km track that will test up to 150 riders from around 40 countries on 25th August 2012.
The route comprises six loops of between 20km and 38km five of which take riders on different routes around the Suffolk countryside covering heathland, forest tracks, river meadows and open farmland all with the support of local landowners, farmers and the Forestry Commission.
Appropriately, the field will be following in ancient footsteps as the route crosses the start of the historic 120mile Icknield Way, Britain’s oldest long-distance path. As a boost to horse and rider, at the end of the ride the final stretch takes the field back out over familiar territory with a repeat of the fourth 20km loop. However, course designers Steve Hulse and Gary Honeywill, say the main aim throughout the ride has been to provide interesting and varied terrain that will provide a true championship test.
Steve Hulse, a former jockey said: “The route may be flat, but it is deceptively difficult and requires real riding to get it right all the way to the finish. We have created a route over the best going possible, it’s a track that riders will enjoy but it will need care in places particularly around some of the wooded sections. The three river crossings are a real feature.”
Reflecting the degree of difficulty presented, at the Championship test event in July 2011, there were 21 finishers from 71 starters. Riding Aghaab, which is among his nominated rides for the championship, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum won the FEI CEI*** 160km event in 7hr40min06sec, averaging 20.86km/hr.
Championship technical advisor John Robertson said: “The aim in staging a competition of this kind is to provide a track that is both inviting to all but from which the real champions emerge. The Euston Park course flows well but will also present a tough technical challenge.”
Championship host 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 realized, but I know that he would be very proud of all that has been achieved.”
Championship organiser James MacEwan said: “We have been running endurance rides here at Euston Park for nearly 10 years and we hope that what we have here will become a benchmark for future championships.”
Reigning world champions, Spain’s Maria Alvarez and Nobby hold the record as the only combination to have claimed two world titles in succession and Spain will be hoping that Ms Alvarez is again among their line-up. The UAE currently holds the team world title. Alvarez’s winning time of 7hr:35min.44sec at the Alltech Kentucky World Equestrian Games in 2010 will be a target for the winning rider at this summer’s World Endurance Championships.
The full list of nominated entries for the competition will be published on 14th August 2012.
Alongside title sponsor Longines, two Dubai industry giants, Meydan and Emaar Properties are additional supporters of the championships.
With around 1000 participants, riders, crew and officials, the championship will have a significant economic impact on the area around Euston Park and the Newmarket area during the build-up and immediately post competition.