A three-day action by the Portuguese Equestrian Federation to promote young national equestrian talents, the 'Geração Talento Equestre' programme, saw the participation of more than 100 athletes.
The Manuel Possolo Hippodrome was once the stage for great national and international equestrian competitions, having hosted the Global Tour competitions for 13 years, as well as national championship competitions. It was for several years one of the great symbols of the sport in Portugal.
Today, things are different. Few competitions take place in the venue and, to bring back the sporting culture of the hippodrome, the Portuguese Equestrian Federation has promoted this three-day session. This is born not only from a will to revive the space, but also to promote the young national talents taking part in the Geração Talento Equestre programme.
"This track is mythical for Portugal. It has existed for dozens of years, and dozens of national youth championships have been held here. We are trying to reactivate this magnificent setting through the youth. We want to have national and international competitions again and bring them to our country and to Cascais", said Bruno Rente, president of the Portuguese Equestrian Federation.
The event had the support of Horses R'Us, a riding school of the municipality, which provided 20 of the 140 available horses for the more than 100 athletes registered for the three days of competition. According to Bruno Rente, the sport has grown by 20% in the post-Covid period, and it is hoped that this will continue in the future.
"The last few years have been challenging for the sport. Covid left damage like in other sports and we also had an episode of an equine virus that forced us to stop competition. However, fortunately, we managed to overcome this situation and last year we had a more than 20% growth in athletes, contradicting the trend of the sport", he said.
The leader also highlighted the "quite remarkable" growth this year, in which the Federation already has more than 7,100 athletes in the month of June.
"We are attracting more and more practitioners, we are in a good moment", concluded Bruno Rente.
Christopher Alves is 12 years old and borrowed a mare from his father to compete on the Cascais track. The Alves family has had the company of Lady Linka since she was five years old. When she was six, Christopher started to ride her. Now, they’re getting to know each other.
"It is very important to have a good relationship with the horse you jump and ride with. This mare is special because we have had her since she was little and she has been there at home for a while and we have had a very good relationship with her ever since," Christopher said.
Christopher grew up in the world of equestrianism but recognises that it is a difficult sport: "I have to see if I can get good opportunities, because this sport is not easy, the horses are expensive, and it is very complicated. But maybe better will come along, this year I have the national championship and plenty to achieve."
The youngster was one of more than 100 athletes registered for the horse jumping events that took place at the Manuel Possolo Hippodrome over the weekend. The event was organised by Horses R' Us, in partnership with Plank Shows, which joined forces with the Portuguese Equestrian Federation.