Equestrianism: Millennium's new kind of show

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A new equestrian fixture, to be held annually at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre, is already scheduled for the next millennium. Initially called "Pageant 2000, incorporating the New Millennium Horse Show" (subsequent titles will be updated to give the year in which the event takes place) it is due to run from 3 to 6 August, 2000.

Jon Phillips, managing director of the event, is aiming to "redesign" horse shows for the 21st century. "This will not be a horse show as people have come to expect but a show with horses - equestrian entertainment," Phillips said.

Plans include an indoor cross-country competition, over a course which Mike Tucker has agreed to design, using two (or possibly three) of the NEC halls. The course would also be used to stage contests for other disciplines, such as driving and working hunter classes.

Phillips will be working towards "the Wimbledon principle" for show jumping, so that a champion emerges on the final day. The climax will be run on the World Championship formula, with the finalists riding their own and each other's horses.

This brave new venture is likely to to cost pounds 1.5m to stage. Phillips, known to the equestrian world through his horsebox and rescue company, believes that it will be largely self-financing, with sponsors for individual classes and displays.

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