More than 340 horse and rider eventing combinations will compete across five levels at AELEC this weekend.
“This year our May event has yet again attracted impressive entries,” said Carolyn Campbell, Tamworth International Eventing president.
Campbell said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the number of competitors, given there would not be international-level classes at the event due to the “very exciting” upgrade of the venue.
“So we did expect numbers to be down,” she said, adding: “We are thrilled to see so many people entering – it really highlights how popular the sport is locally.
“Each year we are seeing more and more local junior and adult riders competing in this great sport.”
Campbell said the event would still feature a number of prominent riders including past winners Katie Taliana, Jessica Rae and Andrew Barnett.
For the well-known Barrett family from Branxton, it will be a family affair, with parents Prue and Craig and sons Oliver and Jesper competing.
Prue and Craig have both represented Australia in eventing at the World Equestrian Games, with Prue national performance director for eventing.
“All the riders, whether newcomers to the sport or seasoned professionals, are looking forward to seeing the new developments at AELEC come to fruition,” Campbell said.
“At the moment, works are still underway. But this is short-term pain for some exceptional long-term gain.”
Campbell said the new water jump under construction would be one of the best in Australia, and is slated for completion for next year’s events.
“This year competitors will enjoy riding on some of the new world-class arenas AELEC have built, and jumping some new fences we have added to the cross-country course,” she said.
Tamworth International Eventing’s second event for 2018 will be held in August, and will include eight class levels including the elite three-star class.
Comprising of three phases – dressage, show jumping and cross country – eventing is often described as an equestrian triathlon and is one of the few Olympic sports in which men and women compete against each other.
Entry is free for spectators this weekend.