The Red Dragon Festival of Endurance at Builth Wells in mid-Wales is traditionally the last big event of the endurance riding season, with competitors and their horses from all over the country travelling to the Royal Welsh Showground for the unique atmosphere and challenging riding through the Cambrian mountains.
To enable the 2020 event to go ahead, classes for this year’s "Lite" version of Red Dragon have been revised to ensure that groups of people do not meet. The classes will run over two days instead of the usual three, with distances of 25km, 36km, 42km and 48km and various combinations of these for riders wishing to take part over two days. The 22 classes will include Graded Endurance Rides and Pleasure Rides but no Competitive Endurance Rides this year.
Graded Endurance Rides are ideally suited to social distancing because they are a solitary competition where the horse and rider head out over the course on their own or in pairs and are then given a grade at the end of the ride based on the fitness of their horse. The organisers intend to make full use of the enormous 150-acre Royal Welsh Showground site to also keep groups of people apart back at the venue.
John Hudson, Ride Organiser said: “The decision to stage the ride this year has been something of a roller coaster and we are enormously grateful to our sponsors, Will I’Anson and his daughter Hattie I’Anson for all their wonderful support and encouragement in getting the ride across the line this year but also enabling us to dare to think bigger, thanks to their generous funding. We also could not be doing this without them or the support of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society for their approval to use the Royal Welsh Showground for our venue as we begin to emerge from the Covid 19 restrictions.
“We do not yet know what Covid 19 measures will be in place in Wales in October and still need to stress that the event can only go ahead if the virus continues to remain under control and also if all riders, crews, officials and volunteers adhere to the guidelines that will be issued to all as part of the joining instructions for the event”
As ever, the inviting Red Dragon course covers grass and heather covered tracks along the plateaux with a couple of serious climbs. The route offers sections of potentially fast going with wonderful views. Given the high demand for places there are likely to be restrictions on entries which opened for the GER classes on 7th August.
Organisers are committed to ensuring that as many entries as possible will be taken, whilst ensuring that the event stays within the guidelines laid down by the Welsh Government, British Equestrian and Endurance GB. However, the ride entry limit will not be set until the Covid 19 restrictions become clearer towards the closing date of the event. Once an entry limit is set, then entries will be confirmed by email on a first come first served basis using the date and time of entry. Those not gaining a place will receive a full refund of all funds paid.
Hattie I’Anson, British Horse Feeds and The Golden Paste Company Sales Manager comments: “It is really great that Red Dragon is going ahead with all measures put in place to make sure both riders and volunteers will be safe. We are so happy that British Horse Feeds and the Golden Paste Company are able to support the ride during this difficult year. We wish all competitors well and want to thank all involved for making this wonderful event happen.”
Chair of Endurance GB Phil Nunnerley said: “The prospect of being able to end the 2020 season with an event as prestigious as the British Horse Feeds and Golden Paste Company Red Dragon Festival of Endurance despite COVID 19, is a huge morale boost to everyone in the sport and will be a great way of bringing the spirit of the endurance community back together. John Hudson and the team have already put a huge amount of work into making this happen and we are grateful to them for that. This year may be Red Dragon ‘Lite’ with an amended socially distanced format but there is no doubt it will be an event not to be missed.”