ENDURANCE GB Young Rider squad member, Dace Sainsbury, has been invited to compete in the FEI 3* 160km President’s Cup Endurance ride in Abu Dhabi on February 16.

The Lyme Regis teenager and her horse Balotta were the highest-placed British horse and rider at the 2012 European Young Rider Endurance Championships where they finished in 12th place.

Sainsbury will be the only UK-based British rider to take part in the gruelling race.

Just 13 riders from across the world are invited to take part each year in the prestigious event, in addition to a large number of local riders and members of the Emirate Royal family.

Young riders are not usually asked so Sainsbury is particularly honoured to have the opportunity to participate.

The President’s Cup is also seen as one of the toughest Endurance rides there is.

The 160km course is across the desert in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi and will include crossing steep sand dunes – horses and riders will complete the course in one day.

Sainsbury and Balotta will travel to the Abi Dhabi desert the week before the ride for which the pair has been training hard.

Sainsbury said: “Training is always important to me. You cannot expect a horse to cover distance at a reasonable speed without sufficient training.”

The terrain the pair will have to cross in the desert will be very different to anything they have previously experienced.

Sainsbury added: “In order to prepare Lottie for the desert conditions I am hiring a circular all-weather canter track so we can train properly at a continuous canter.

“I am using the track three to four times a week, and am covering between 15 and 20km a time.” Another demand of the President’s Cup, which will be new to Sainsbury and Balotta is that horses are all required to carry a minimum weight of 75kgs.

She said: “To overcome the weight issue I have to train in a 10kg weight vest plus a 5kg weight pad that sits underneath the saddle.

“There are a lot of firsts for us in this ride, however I will do everything in my power to prepare Lottie fully for the race, but as always her welfare is my utmost priority.”

Sainsbury has spent time out in Dubai observing and helping out in an endurance yard.

She continued: “This experience was invaluable to me and has helped me to give Lottie the best possible chance to complete the ride.

“To be invited to ride on my own horse in the President’s Cup is quite mind-blowing and it is one of those dreams that you never in a million years think will materialise.”

* To follow Sainsbury and Balotta’s progress, regular updates will be posted on the Endurance GB facebook and Twitter sites at facebook.com/ EnduranceGB or @endurancegb