19 november 2008
Britain bids for 2012Great Britain is bidding to host the prestigious FEI world horse four-in-hand driving championships in four years time, in the year of the London 2012 Olympics.
The bid, to be presented to the FEI from the British Horse Driving Trials Association, is to hold the world championships at the superb new Great Leighs Racecourse in Essex.
If successful, the exciting world driving championships, which benefited from the active involvement of HRH Prince Philip for many years, would bring the best international horse four drivers in the world to the UK for the first time in over 20 years and would give British crowds the opportunity to watch the power and speed of the finest horse teams from Europe, America and Australia as they battle over four days to be crowned world champions.
"We are delighted that the bid for the 2012 world four-in-hand championships is going ahead,” said BHDTA Chairman, Tony Bache. “Great Leighs has facilities that are second to none and will make a perfect setting for such a prestigious international championships."
“I’m proud to be backing the bid,” commented international four-in-hand driving legend and multiple-medal winner, George Bowman, whose two sons also compete in the sport and will be aiming to represent Britain in 2012. “It’s about time Britain hosted a world four-in-hand championships.”
George Bowman during the 2008 World Championships in Beesd
Photo: Rinaldo de Craen
World Championships UK Ltd has been set up to provide backing for the bid and directors, Terry Chambers and John Attenborough, have guaranteed funds to ensure the bid is successful. A team of experienced professional and volunteer organisers, combining the Great Leighs’ organisation with talented and experienced horse driving trials personnel, will join forces to run the world championships.
Great Leighs is the only purpose-built racecourse with integrated equestrian facilities. It is set in 430 acres of rolling countryside. The complex features a one-mile floodlit Polytrack, grandstand with covered viewing for several thousand people, excellent restaurants and VIP facilities, and first-class equine infrastructure including secure stabling, doping control facilities and ancillary arenas. Already highly rated by the racing industry, the circuit is described as “perfect” by Frankie Dettori and “world class” by Classic trainer John Gosden. In the six months since opening, Great Leighs has staged 40 fixtures, including a trial for the Breeders Cup.
“It was always our intention to bolt top class equestrianism on to the racecourse project and so we are both delighted and flattered that such a knowledgeable body as BHDTA feels that Great Leighs is worthy as a world title venue,” commented John Holmes, chairman of Great Leighs. “We feel this is an ideal opportunity to showcase this great sport to a new public. Excellent links to the continent via Harwich and nearby Stansted will make it an easy visit for driving’s thousands of supporters in northern Europe.
Great Leighs occupies the site of the former Essex County Showground, and is 33 miles from London. Situated close to Chelmsford, there is an abundance of bed & breakfast and hotels accommodation for visitors to the area.
Great Leighs Racecourse was the standby quarantine facility to accommodate the 24 horses flying to China for the Olympic Games from Stansted International Airport and has already been selected to be a Pre-Games Training Camp for equestrianism in the run-up to London 2012.