World Class Programme

the wider 'support team'

Funded by the Exchequer and the National Lottery through UK Sport, the Equestrian World Class Programme focuses on three key areas for British athletes and horses; identifying talent, developing potential and maximising medal-winning performances on the world stage.

Equestrian World Class Programme

Our Vision: to be the number one Olympic and Paralympic equestrian nation with depth of excellence at every level

Our Mission: identify talent, develop potential and maximise and sustain medal-winning performances at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major Championships, and inspire others in support of the long term growth of British equestrian sport

Our Values: professionalism, performance, passion, partnership, integrity, equality and inspiration

Our Approach: achieving excellence in everything we do; from meeting the most challenging performance targets on the field of play, to managing ourselves to the highest professional standards - on and off it

UK Sport

Established by Royal Charter in 1997, UK Sport is responsible for investing around £100 million of public funds each year in high performance sport. The primary role of UK Sport is to strategically invest National Lottery and Exchequer income to maximise sporting performance.

Resources are carefully targeted to maximise Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ chances of medal success. UK Sport’s Investment Principles are reviewed every 4 years, with Annual Reviews conducted with each sport to assess progress towards the agreed objectives. To date there has been a philosophy of targeted investment to focus available resources towards athletes and sports with the greatest chance of success ('no compromise') with a clear priority to support every potential medal and medallist over a two Games / eight year period.

UK Sport’s Vision for Rio 2016 is to be the first host nation to achieve more medals post hosting with a stronger, more sustainable high performance sport system. Success is measured by medals won, medallists developed and systems in place to find/support future champions. Total funding for Olympic sports in the Rio cycle (2013-2017) is £275M and for Paralympic sports is £73M. 

For more information on UK Sport, please visit

The Equestrian World Class Programme has been funded by UK Sport since 1998, and is part of the British Equestrian Federation's (BEF) portfolio. The funding is awarded as a four year 'grant' by UK Sport and supports three main areas:

  1. The World Class Podium, Podium Potential and Equine Pathway Programmes
  2. Athlete Personal Allowances (paid to athletes direct by UK Sport)
  3. Governance costs (this helps with the costs of the BEF); the Programme is run as one and not four separate discipline programmes. The Performance Director, Dan Hughes, holds overall responsibility for the Equestrian World Class Programme and reports to the BEF Board and to UK Sport

Within equestrian sport, we face a unique challenge in that we need both a World Class athlete (the rider) and a World Class horse competing together as a partnership. We have therefore had to develop our plan to support this multi-dimensional need.


Podium supports horse-rider combinations that are challenging for team positions at the next Olympic or Paralympic Games (within the next four years). It is essentially the Programme that supports the British Equestrian Teams (Team GBR) within the three Olympic and one Paralympic disciplines. The Programme seeks to enhance their performance through the highest level coaching, sports science and medicine and management programmes and is also responsible for all logistics and management at various Championship events.

Click to learn more about Podium and how it supports Great Britain's athletes

Podium Potential

Podium Potential seeks to identify and develop athletes with the necessary attributes to achieve podium places at a subsequent Olympic or Paralympic Games (4-8 year time frame). Podium Potential athletes are those who are perceived to sit just below the Podium athletes but who may already be achieving results on the world stage and are heading towards a place on the Podium squad.

Podium Potential is primarily focussed on the athlete, although the athlete must have a horse with sufficient aptitude to progress the athlete. It is anticipated that with correct training, support and, of course, horsepower, athletes will progress to achieve World Class Podium standards.

Click to learn more about Podium Potential and the support structure available 

Click to view the 2014-2016 squad

Have you got what it takes? Find out more about selection for the Programme

Discipline Programmes

The World Class Programme also works in close conjunction with British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping to help support, and provide funding for, the Pony, Junior and Young Rider teams (plus Children on Horses in showjumping). 

Equine Pathway

The Equine Pathway was introduced in 2006 for the Olympic disciplines of dressage, jumping and eventing, and seeks to identify horses that (regardless of whether they are being ridden by athletes on the World Class Programme) show the potential to reach the very top. Within para-equestrian dressage, the 'Equine Pathway' helps athletes on the Programme to identify appropriate horses.

The purpose of the pathway is to identify those horses that have the potential to develop into medal winning horses. The programme works with and supports riders and owners of the horses in order to help them maximise the horses’ potential.  

This is perhaps the most difficult of the Programmes to find the right structure for, as identifying future Olympic horses is no easy task!

Learn more about the Equine Pathway


Owners play a vital role in the success of British athletes and are an instrumental part of the world class team that strives to deliver medals on the world stage. Without the right owners of the right horses we will be unable to achieve our aims so keeping our current owners and finding new ones is a key part of the World Class  Programme. 

There are many different ways to become an owner which we would be delighted to discuss with you, please contact the World Class team for more information on 02476 698871. 

If you are interested in becoming an owner, or want to find out more information please click here