Top prospects for Golden Horseshoe endurance ride

May 8, 2010

Despite numbers being hit by the long winter holding up fitness preparation, competition is likely to be stiff at this year's 160km (100 miles) Golden Horseshoe Ride over Exmoor.

Fourteen riders have entered the premier class, eight in the 80km (50 miles) class and an unprecedented 56 in the Exmoor Experience ride of 25 miles on each of two days. The maximum 100 riders have already entered for the 15 mile training/sponsored ride and organisers have opened a waiting list.

"This is much as I expected," said ride organiser Barbara Wigley. "The terrible weather last winter, which went on and on, held up training programmes for a lot of people and I don't suppose we are the only early-season ride to suffer on entries for the longer classes."

The meeting, which runs from May 16 to 18, is again based at Exford, at the heart of Exmoor.

Among the Golden Horseshoe entries is Gillian Talbot and her arabian Malabar Storm, from Chepstow. Gillian's experience of the ride goes back to 1993 and includes Gold and Silver awards.

Helen McFarland is travelling her horse, J St Jake, from Belfast to take part, while Nikki Routledge has only a few miles to travel from Bampton, to try to better her previous Bronze and Silver medals.

Connie, ridden by Kirsty Wiscombe from Lyme Regis, will be very much at home when she comes to the start, as she has 4000 competitive kilometres on her clock and two silver medals from Exmoor.

Although she has no Exmoor experience, 20-year-old Delorto Zaranz, owned and ridden by Abigail Taylor from Hereford, is no stranger to important occasions. He was British National Champion in 2004, was at the Bahrain World Championships and the President Cup in Abu Dhabi in 2005 and 2006 and the World Equestrian Games in 2002.

In the Exmoor Experience class, Katy Mellor, from Shropshire, will be celebrating her 12th birthday from the back of her pony, Angelina Ginny, while Abby Chisholm, 15, and her anglo-arab CFS Diana of Court will be trying to better her Silver award last year.