Golden Buckle is Europe’s largest barrel racing competition and it will take place between tomorrow and Sunday at MFCC Ta’ Qali. Races will be held along the four-day experience with nearly 200 horses coming over from eight European countries and will attract the participation of more than 100 European and American riders. Luigi Spina and Jonathan Pace, directors of Golden Buckle, provided a thorough insight on the event…
Golden Buckle is considered amongst Barrel Racing enthusiasts as one of the largest and most innovative international competitions across Europe and the Americas.
Luigi Spina said that Malta’s perfect weather conditions at this time of the year were a key factor behind their decision to bring the event to Malta.
“Despite being a very small island, Malta is a very accessible country with a good climate for horses, especially during the spring and autumn months,” Spina said.
“I’m half Maltese and half Italian and being a local for a number of years I was enticed to explore holding our event in Malta. The Maltese have very good abilities in logistics and organisation and this was a key factor that encouraged us to come to Malta to further elevate our races.
“While we started to explore Malta, we also discovered the enthusiasm in Malta for equestrian sports.”
The Malta Tourism Authority is promoting the first edition of Golden Buckle Malta with the aim to attract sports tourism in Malta and further widen the opportunities for quality tourism.
Jonathan Pace, from NRGY Concepts Ltd, who is coordinating the event locally explained the challenges faced in Malta to host such as large-scale international event.
“To start with, we lack facilities. Our biggest challenge was to build a 60mx35m equestrian arena for just two weeks alongside all the necessary facilities including 200 stables, showers, stores, and technical areas amongst others,” Pace said.
“Many of the facilities had to be imported from abroad given that they are not available in Malta. Nevertheless, the team got to the challenge and here we are, MFCC as you’ve never seen before, with over 1,200 tones of sand, forming the biggest ever indoor equestrian arena in Malta.
“Since last Saturday, horses started to arrive from all over Europe, including Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Belgium.
“This was also a logistical nightmare, but thanks to the support of the Veterinary Services Department the process worked smoothly for both the owners and the horses.”
Spina explained how barrel racing works and its increasing popularity of barrel racing across the world.
“Barrel racing – a fast-paced timed event – challenges the paired team of horse and rider to run a clover-leaf pattern around three barrels as fast as they can,” he said.
“It’s an event that keeps you on the edge of your seat much like horse racing. The sport’s top riders are so close in their times that an electronic timing device calculates their times to the thousandth of a second!
“The anticipation arises until they announce the time. When a ‘New Leader’ occurs, the energy through the stadium is electric.”
The sport is particularly popular in the USA, especially in Texas, but has gained attention in Europe, with Italy being the biggest market for the sport, followed by France, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Given the increasing popularity of barrel racing, what is the traction being achieved by Golden Buckle as a brand? Golden Buckle is considered the future of barrel racing, the competition is designed to offer not just a racing platform but a professional show experience that travels from one continent to another and exchanges the quality and abilities of riders and horses across the globe.
Following significant success in Italy, the Malta edition will be soon followed by a Golden Buckle flagship event this January in Waco, Dallas. The competition is expected to see over 700 horses compete for the big international title.
Spina announced that this week some of the world champions are expected to be part of the Malta edition, including Pete Oen, 6X AQHA world champion, Jordon Briggs – 2021 WPRA world champion and two-time BFA champion, Tyler Rivette – AQHA and BFA world champion and Ashley Schafe – Multiple Futurity champion.
“If you’re an equestrian enthusiast, Golden Buckle this week is a must to attend,” Spina said.
“Throughout the event, you will watch competitors of all ages competing in their specified categories – Junior, Youth, Ladies, and Open Barrel Racing, as well as another timed event called Pole Bending just as a bonus to make your experience even more fun.”
Tickets and more information are available from www.goldenbuckle.eu
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