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Other Sports - 20. May 2008.

British show jumping planning an event that they claim will change the sport


IT is claimed that new-style show jumping event on July 31 and August 1 will bring the razzmatazz of continental horse shows to Chester this summer. 

The highlight of the two days will be the Inaugural British Masters Invitational featuring the top 40 invited riders from across the UK and Europe.

The event will see Britain's current and future Olympic stars jumping for a prize fund in excess of £60,000 making it one of the biggest show jumping events in the UK.

Working in partnership with British Show Jumping Association (BSJA) Chester Racecourse will introduce a series of new and exciting elements into the sport.

Richard Thomas, the chief executive of Chester Racecourse said;  ‘We are looking forward to working in partnership BSJA on this event, Chester Racecourse has always been renowned for being at the forefront of all things Equestrian and the plans for the British Masters event will really bring show jumping into the 21st century."

The event on August 1 will introduce a series of new elements into the sport such as live interviews, music, riders wearing polo shirts and betting opportunities which it is hoped will broaden the appeal of this exciting, competitive sport to a new audience.

The event is being supported by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

Peter Mearns, the executive director of Marketing at NWDA, said: "England’s Northwest already has a great reputation for hosting world-class sporting events and the NWDA is pleased to help kick-start this exciting new show jumping event at Chester Racecourse.

"It will undoubtedly add to the diversity of the region’s sporting offer and help showcase the Northwest to a wider audience."

This event will also feature ‘matchplay’ jumping with riders competing on a knockout basis and promises an amazing spectacle of music, colour and non-stop action which will appeal to hardened fans of the sport and new spectators alike.

The BSJA’s Maria Clayton said: "In the jump-off class, 40 riders can jump in groups of 10.

"That way, you can bet on each group and then bet again on the 10 in the jump-off.

"There will be a break between each group to give spectators time to place a bet."

A series of current and future Olympic hopefuls have already confirmed that they will be performing at Chester including world renown John and Michael Whitaker in addition to some of the country's highest ranking riders such as Robert Smith, Ellen, William and Robert Whitaker, William Funnell, Geoff Luckett, Geoff Billington and Daniel Neilson.

Compering the event will be Tim Stockdale, who is also planning to compete.

He said: “I’ve jumped at European shows in the morning before the betting has started and there’s 200 people there, but once the betting opens, that number can go up to 14,000. 

"I think that anything that can create an interest and a commercial slant on the sport can only be a good thing.”

Michael Mac, the chairman of BSJA, said: “This can only bode well for the future of the sport.

"Great Britain not only has an enormous wealth of talented riders, but riders who are noted to be some of the best on the world.

"To showcase this talent iin such a unique and exciting format is not only welcome but extremely overdue.

"We consistently win gold medals at junior and young rider level.

"Last year we won team bronze at the Senior European Championships and qualified for the Olympics.

"We have a great sport that is heavily supported by competitors and spectators alike and we strongly believe that these new initiatives can only serve to grow it further.”

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