Equestrianism: Bowman aims for 18th title

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The Independent Online
George Bowman will be aiming to win the national title for the 18th time when he competes with his team of four horses in the National Carriage Driving Championships, which begin today in Windsor Great Park.

Twelve days ago, the 61-year-old Cumbrian won his second successive individual silver medal at the World Championships in Belgium.

Bowman was also on the bronze medal team with Karen Bassett and her sister, Pippa Thomas, the only two women to take part in the event. "It was very nice to be on the team with them. I think all the others were jealous of me," he said.

Bassett will be defending the national title she won last year after Bowman was forced to retire on the marathon section because of problems in one of the hazards. Georgina Frith will also be aiming to repeat last year's success with her team of ponies.

Meanwhile, every effort is being made to raise the profile of the Horse of the Year Show, which takes place at Wembley Arena from 2 to 6 October.

The Cadre Noir, the French national school of equitation, will provide their impressive displays of classical riding on the last three days of the meeting. It is hoped that this will give a boost to the show jumping contests.

There will also be much needed improvements to the infrastructure of the event, including a new computerised scoreboard.

The show, which lost pounds 240,000 in 1994 and costs pounds 1.2m to stage, has shown encouraging signs of regaining its popularity. Ticket sales are up by 89 per cent compared with this time last year, and sponsorship has increased by 50 per cent.