MERs in the Sunshine: Early-Season Portuguese Spring Tour Returns for 2024

Fun in the sun: early-season eventing in Portugal returns for 2024. Photo courtesy of Shadow Film/Mato do Duque.

Up until its final running in 2022, Portugal’s Barroca d’Alva was the place to be for eventers looking to gain early-season runs and qualifications – and almost legendary communal barbecues ahead of the year to come, too. It’s been a much-missed fixture, but now, the team at Mata do Duque is bringing this multi-week tour back for 2024, offering riders the chance to nail down their Paris qualifiers nice and early, and give their less experienced horses valuable exposure and runs, too.

Mata do Duque is set in Canha, close to Lisbon – and close to Barroca’s venue, too. While this is its first time hosting the season starter, it’s not a totally new event: we saw it run successfully last October most recently, and, in fact, its history within Portugal’s eventing season goes back way further than that, too. It was the host of Portugal’s first-ever FEI three-day event back in 2000, and continued on the next year, too, before passing the reins to Barroca.

Now, with a new team of organisers, several of whom are international competitors themselves, the event marks an exciting start to a busy season. The first week of the Portuguese Spring Tour will run February 17–20, with international classes held at CCI1*, CCI2*-S, and CCI3*, while the second week, which runs from February 28 to March 3, will host CCI1*, CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L, and CCI4*-S classes, the latter of which is the first Northern hemisphere Olympic qualifier of the 2024 season and a useful opportunity for picking up a ‘confirmation’ result, required at this level or above, to tick the final boxes for Paris, or to solidify the list of MER results required for selection.

To take a closer look at the venue and get a taster of the event to come, check out this preview video – and for more information on the event itself, head over to the Portuguese Eventing Association’s Facebook page.


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