Bramham now represents last chance for would-be Olympians

THE cancellation of this weekend’s Chatsworth International Horse Trials due to heavy rain is posing problems for potential Olympic riders from this country and abroad who had planned to ride there.

Many had been re-routed to compete at Chatsworth following the cancellation of Badminton last weekend, also because of waterlogged ground.

Chatsworth had added an extra day of World Cup dressage to its schedule for yesterday in order to cater for would-be Olympic riders.

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Now attention is likely to focus on Bramham International Horse Trials in a month’s time.

Entries, which closed yesterday, had already rocketed because of Badminton being abandoned.

Bramham will be the final qualifying event in Britain before the Olympics.

“We will do everything possible to make sure we run as many people as we possibly can,” said Laura Jennings, events assistant.

“Everything was looking good until the rain started at about 4pm on Wednesday and continued overnight,” said spokeswoman Rachael Morley at Chatsworth.

“It’s very disappointing. We had worked so hard in the last week to get everybody sorted after Badminton. You can organise everything but the weather.”

Mike Etherington-Smith, chief executive of British Eventing, said they were exploring all avenues to see what could be done to provide additional competition opportunities, including re-scheduling the Grasroots Championships, which should have taken place at Badminton.

Asked about what this means for the British team’s preparations for the Olympics, performance director Will Connell said: “We will now sit down with the selectors, riders and coaches and make a plan – we will not rush into announcing this plan as we must also take a view on what the weather has in store and what options we have... It is not the time to panic or predict doom and gloom.”

In the meantime, work is well underway for a packed programme at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials from June 7-10.

This will be one of the final chances to see some of the world’s top riders in action before they head on to the challenges in store at Greenwich Park.

Many of the riders hoping for an Olympic team place have entered, including Rolex Kentucky winner William Fox-Pitt, who has entered five horses; Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson, who has entered her top horse, Opposition Buzz; New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson, who has three entries; Caroline Powell, who hopes to compete with the popular Lenamore and Tina Cook, who plans on returning to Bramham with Miner’s Frolic.

Tickets are now available at or call 01937 846017. The box office closes on May 28.

Godmother to rescue as Sophie gets wish

SOPHIA Monkman, whose story we featured on this page last week, has been offered a horse to ride in the Macmillan charity race at York races on June 16.

When the horse Sophia had been hoping to ride was no longer available, she was hoping a local owner and trainer in the Malton area might come to her rescue.

After hearing about her plight, Sophia’s godmother, Jenny Rooke, stepped in.

“She is part of a syndicate called ‘The Trendy Ladies’ and they own a horse called Horatio Carter, who is in training with David O’Meara near Helmsley,” explained Sophia.

There are 10 members and they have agreed to back her, along with O’Meara.

“I think they are just as excited as I am and I’m very relieved as the weeks are flying by,” said Sophia, who will be riding the horse out for the first time today. “He’s a nice big horse, a seven-year-old and he looks great.”

Sophia, 23, has been getting fit in order to ride in the race. Twelve amateur jockeys will line up on the day, having all raised a minimum of £2,500 in sponsorship which will go to Macmillan Cancer Support.

The Bilsdale Hunt point-to-point is due to take place at Easingwold tomorrow.

It starts with the Hunt Members’ race at 2pm with Go Moss Go looking good.

In the PPORA Club Members race for veteran and novice riders, Chris Cundall could go well on Andre Chenier.