Vicki Roycroft speaks at the Return of the Horse press conference with David Lawrence from EFA NSW, and Minister Ian Macdonald and Minister Graham West in the background.

March 6, 2008

After more than six months in the wilderness because of the equine influenza outbreak, equestrian competition is back in Australia's New South Wales - in a big way.

Yesterday the Equestrian Federation of Australia (NSW) and the NSW Government launched The Return of the Horse equestrian series - Australia's largest equestrian event since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

The Return of the Horse is a month-long series of international events being held throughout April at the world-class Sydney International Equestrian Centre. More than 500 riders from around the country will compete in showjumping, eventing, dressage, vaulting, saddle horse and interschool events.

With the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games fast approaching, The Return of the Horse will also include one of the last Olympic qualifying/selection events to be held in Australia - the Bates Sydney International Three-Day Event. Olympic selectors will also be keenly viewing the showjumpers in the ISS and EFA Australian Championships.


Rachael Sanna with Jaybee Alabaster are among the thousands of NSW horse enthusiasts who have been waiting to get back into competition.

"The Return of the Horse is the turning point we've all been waiting for," says David Lawrence, Chairman of the Equestrian Federation of Australia (NSW). "It shows that equestrian sport is back on track and that we have beaten EI.

"It's not just horse racing that's been impacted by Equestrian Influenza, the whole equestrian industry has been devastated. Thousands of small businesses, sports professionals, performance horse breeders, communities and families have gone through hard times due to EI. Overall it has cost the industry more than $3.6 billion.

"That's why this landmark series of international events are so important. They signal to the industry there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is a future for the equestrian industry.

"This event would not be possible with out the support of the NSW Government, its commitment to eradicate EI and to get the equestrian industry back on its feet. With EI eradicated we've now been given the green light for really open competition. So it's time to saddle up!"

The Return of the Horse will include the:

These events will enable Australia's elite riders such as Shane Rose, Rachael Sanna and Vicki Roycroft to compete for a spot in the Australian Olympic equestrian squad, as well as give Australia's up and coming young riders a chance to hone their equestrian skills at the EFA NSW / Mitavite Interschools Championships in preparation for the National Championships.

"I encourage everyone to come along to the events and show their support for the riders and horses competing," Lawrence says. "Let's all show that we're back and we are bigger than ever."