International horse barrel racing competition to be held in Malta

International horse barrel racing competition to be held in Malta

Malta will host the Golden Buckle Barrel Race in October as 100 riders and more than 200 horses will descend on the island in the first such event held here

The rodeo may not be quite coming to Malta but one of its popular events, barrel racing, will take place here in October.

Malta will host 100 riders and more than 200 horses for the Golden Buckle Barrel Race that will be held between 13 and 16 October at the MFCC in Ta’ Qali.

The event, supported by VisitMalta, will see riders and horses challenging themselves to make the fastest time as they weave in tight patterns around three barrels.

A number of world champion riders will be coming to Malta. Participants hail from 10 countries, including one from Malta.

The sport is popular in the US but has gained a good foothold in Europe, with Italy being the biggest market, according to Luigi Spina, director and founder of Golden Buckle International.

Spina was addressing a press conference along with Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo and Sports Minister Clifton Grima.

Grima said government investment in equestrian sports was intended to attract more interest and encourage events such as barrel racing to be held in Malta. The investment was not just in facilities, he added, noting the newly established regulator, EquestriMalta.

Bartolo said this event, which would be broadcast live on specialised channels popular in the Americas and Australia, would help showcase Malta.

He said the country was looking beyond traditional niches and targeting sectors that provided higher value added.

The press conference was also attended by Malta Tourism Authority chair Gavin Gulia and EquestriMalta CEO Max Zammit.