Bramham International Horse Trials course designer Ian Stark has not been resting on his laurels since last year, and has a few surprises for riders this year.
Stark has enlisted chainsaw master David Evans to work his magic on the course, making each obstacle a work of art.
More than 140 riders from around the world are expected to do battle in three divisions: the CCI3*, CIC3* and the under 25 CCI3*, over the weekend of June 5 to 8.
Stark made many changes last year when Bramham celebrated its 40th birthday, and has continued to tweak the course and says there are ” a few surprises for riders and spectators alike”.
The start and finish remains at the highest part of the park by the stables, away from the main atmosphere of the showground. The riders start out over the Yorkshire Post Garden followed by the Aardvark Safaris RollTop at two and on to the KBIS Arch (three) which all act as a ‘gentle’ introduction. At four, Stark has given an early, but not too technical, challenge in the Supreme Products Stick Piles. The British Equestrian Trade Association Table (five) isn’t for stopping to have a picnic before one of the feature areas, the Equi-Trek Round House. Stark has provided a few options for this challenge and it will be the brave who take the quick route.
Into Lord Bingleys, the riders are confronted by the Leeds Festival Wall at seven before the tricky Suregrow Fertiliser Owl Hole combination in the trees at the furthest end of the course. Olympic memories are rekindled at the Joules Clothing London 2012 Chess Table at nine before the pull downhill to the Horse Deals Kidney Pools (ten) where Stark has added a second water pond where he’s looking for bold and accurate riding and says “the long route won’t be for potential winners”.
The horses will feel they’re turning for home as they face the Horse & Hound Leap of Faith which Stark cites as his favourite fence of all the courses he designs. On to the Harrington’s Dog Kennel. Next comes the Woodheads Seeds Hollow, numbered 13 and 14, which always leaves the riders scratching their heads in a bid to find the best route through without wasting valuable seconds and risking a run out.
While it may be tempting, there shouldn’t be any stopping for a treat at the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Cones before the buzz of the Front Park. The imposing Yorkshire Equine Practice Footbridge needs some air, but jumped well will give an amazing feeling. On to the Carter Jonas Sun and Moon at 17 which always draws a crowd.
The Generator Power Brush leads to a double of corners at the Speedi-Beet Double Feat which will test accuracy and whether the riders have left enough petrol in the tank.
The crowds will be five or six deep at the Bond Dickinson Pond at 20 where spectators linger hoping to see a dunking. Lenny the Lobster is still a feature before Sammy Swan to jump on the way out. Once over the Yorkshire Agricultural Society Trakehner, the horses will turn left handed and definitely feel their stable calling. The Land Rover Above and Beyond provides the final challenge as it will test how much the horses have in reserve after a final hill climb. Number 24, the Askham Bryan College Seat will be a welcome sight before cantering through the finish flags having completed the 24 fences and 39 jumping efforts.
Tickets to the event are available on the day, but the box office closes on May 28.
Information: www.bramham-horse.co.uk or call 01937 846017.