Olympics campaign starts off in Yorkshire

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WORK is already going on behind the scenes, planning and organising the many equestrian events that will be taking place in Yorkshire when the competition season gets underway.

We have been checking out what will be happening at some of the main events. There will be a chance to see a number of our Olympic hopefuls in action at some of these, plus leading riders from all over the country will be travelling to Yorkshire to compete in the county’s best-known events.

In early May, Chatsworth International Horse Trials take place in its spectacular setting, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The trials run from May 11-13 and always attract top names. Chatsworth will be hosting the only UK round of the FEI World Cup, which will run alongside the Advanced level competition on the Saturday and Sunday.

The Hambleton District Show, to be held at Carlton Husthwaite on May 27, is in its 18th year and will have a number of new classes.

The show has been selected to hold a Cuddy Supreme In Hand qualifier for the Horse of the Year Show and will also have Royal International qualifiers for several pony classes plus other new classes.

In June, Bramham International Horse Trials will run just a few weeks before the Olympics get under way.

This could be a final chance to see some of our leading riders in action before they head for Greenwich.

The horse trials will take place from June 7-10. The box office opens for tickets on February 1.

Yorkshire Sport Horse hold their annual show at Carlton Husthwaite on June 13.

The schedule includes Horse of the Year Show qualifiers for Ridden and Working Hunters plus Burghley Young Event Horse qualifiers.

Other classes include Retrained Racehorses, Hunter Breeding and Sport Horse Breeding.

The highlight of the summer for many people in Yorkshire is the Great Yorkshire Show, which runs this year from July 10-12. The highly regarded equestrian section attracts competitors from all over the country.

The Mountain and Moorland classes, which were new Horse of the Year Show qualifiers at the Great Yorkshire last year, attracted a huge entry of 265.

Prestigious classes include the Cuddy Supreme In Hand Championship, the TopSpec Supreme Ridden Championship and the Cock o’ the North show-jumping championship, which was won last year by Yorkshireman John Whitaker, with his son Robert as runner-up. The closing date for entries for the equine section is May 1.

The return of show-jumping to East Park in Hull after many years has proved to be a major success.

After a trial run, British Showjumping’s Area 15A committee ran a bigger event there last year and there was a great response. Around 25,000 people attended the show – entry is free for spectators – and 450 horses competed throughout the day.

“We’ll be having a very similar schedule again this year as it seemed to work well,” said Michael Bainbridge, who is one of the organisers. Hull Show is on August 12.

After a successful event last year, Bishop Burton College will be hosting another Para International dressage competition in early August. This will be an opportunity to see our potential Paralympic riders on what will probably be their final outing before they compete in London in September.

Allerton Park Horse Trials step up a notch this year and will have an Advanced class at their September event.

Lady Mowbray, the event organiser, said they felt the time was right to move up to the next level after they received encouragement to do so from competitors and from British Eventing.

Work has started on the new course and designer Ian Stark is also making improvements to the BE100, Novice and Intermediate courses. The trials will be held on the weekend of September 15-16.

One of the last events of the season in Yorkshire is Countryside Live. Held at the Great Yorkshire Showground and mostly under cover, it takes place this year on October 20 and 21.

Equine classes were introduced to this “mini” Great Yorkshire Show event in 2008 and entries have been growing every year.

Up-and-coming riders get a chance to compete here as the classes are open to all and there is a more relaxed atmosphere.

One of the highlights is a talent-spotting competition for young show-jumpers which is run by Graham and Tina Fletcher.