Cash backing for UK’s reserve 2016 Olympic eventer

Tina Cook and Miner's Frolic, reserves for the British eventing team at the 2008 Olympics, won individual bronze.
Tina Cook and Miner’s Frolic were originally reserves for the British eventing team at the 2008 Olympics, and won individual bronze. © Henry Bucklow/Lazy Photography

A history of reserve horses saving the day has led to a British group financing the cost of the country’s stand-by horse to travel to the next Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The Horse Trials Support Group (HTSG), a long-standing backer of British Championship Eventing teams, is to cover the travel expenses for the official travelling reserve rider, horse, groom and up to two owners of the reserve horse.

Rio 2016 sees a new format introduced for the eventing competition, with only four riders (instead of five, as in London 2012) competing in the team competition, with the best three scores to count.  In addition, each team will be entitled to an official travelling reserve. It is therefore considered vital that there is a travelling reserve for the eventing team in Rio, should a substitution be required after the team departs the UK.

However, the reserves cannot be accommodated in the Olympic Village in Rio and finding suitable accommodation and ensuring the rider, horse and groom are able to travel and prepare will be expensive.

In addition to its support of the Eventing team, HTSG will also be holding a raffle for those who are members of HTSG from 1 April 2014 – 30 December 2016, with the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip for two to Rio for the duration of the eventing competition at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Equestrian Performance Director, Will Connell MBE, said: “This is an extremely generous offer of support by the HTSG and will allow even greater support to be given to the riders and horses as they prepare for Rio. The format of having an official reserve that travels with the team is new for Eventing in 2016, although it has been around for a while in Jumping.

“The HTSG has supported Britain’s eventing teams for many years and the sport owes them a debt of gratitude. I would encourage all to join the HTSG and have a chance of winning a trip to Rio. By joining HTSG the tradition of supporting the team is kept alive,” he said.

Rosemary Barlow, HTSG Chairman and long-time eventing owner and volunteer, said since the advent of Lottery funding, much of the group’s fund-raising effort has been directed towards Britain’s Under-21 Eventing teams and help for up-and-coming riders. “We have been delighted to do so, but our origins lie with the senior team.

“Therefore, the HTSG committee feels that our members, some of whom have been with us right from the start 35 years ago, would like to see their money going towards helping Britain win an Olympic gold medal in Rio. History shows that it’s often the reserve horse and rider that saves the day, and we want to provide that safety net.”

The deal is in agreement with the British Equestrian Federation’s Wold Class Programme, which is supported by Lottery and Exchequer funding through UK Sport and the core athlete costs at an Olympic Games are covered by the British Olympic Association (BOA).

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