FOURTEEN nations, this year’s Badminton winner and a royal seal of approval has event director Nick Pritchard as excited as ever approaching the start of the 2019 Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials today.
Northallerton Olympian Nicola Wilson also spearheads 14 riders representing Yorkshire at the county’s crown jewel of eventing that attracts close to 60,000 visitors across the four days.
For many, all eyes will be on the week’s ‘royal guest’ with the Queen’s grand-daughter Zara Tindall returning to compete at Bramham for an eighth time, continuing the 38-year-old’s recent return to the saddle following the birth of second child Lena last June.
Tindall won the CCI three-star under-25s class on Toytown back in 2002 and now looks to add Bramham’s flagship CCI four-star long format event for the first time on Class Affair.
The royal faces stern opposition with New Zealand’s world No 8 Andrew Nicholson double-handed in the feature with Andrea BT4 and As Is as part of a class that also features Yorkshire’s Wilson on Yacabo BK.
Last month’s Badminton Horse Trials winner and world No 3 Piggy French also competes Castletown Clover and Graf Cavalier in the CCI short four-star with Pritchard delighted at another stellar entry featuring riders from the likes of Japan and Zimbabwe and with Tindall topping the bill.
Zara is so lovely and normal when you talk to her and meet her but it is very exciting to have her here. It’s a good event on the circuit so when she has got the right horses it’s lovely to have her keep coming back and hopefully seeing Bramham as a regular.Bramham event director, Nick Pritchard
“It’s lovely to have Zara here and it’s great to see her back in the saddle and competing at the top level again after having children,” said Pritchard.
“It’s brilliant. The press love the fact that Zara is here so I love the fact that she is here as well!
“Zara is so lovely and normal when you talk to her and meet her but it is very exciting to have her here. It’s a good event on the circuit so when she has got the right horses it’s lovely to have her keep coming back and hopefully seeing Bramham as a regular.
“We have a good field and a Badminton winner with Piggy French here and Nicola Wilson. It is a stellar entry.”
From a Yorkshire perspective, in the CCI long four-star, Wilson and Yacabo BK are joined by Grafton’s James Sommerville on Altaskin Jack and Richmond’s Katie Magee on Dollarney.
Wilson also has JL Dublin in the CCI short four-star in which Magee also partners Enceladus alongside 10 other Yorkshire riders which includes Hazel Towers on Simply Clover, Sophie Platt on Be Be III and Ceasar II and Morgan Kent on Felda.
James Rushbrooke on Zelandnew BK, Charlotte Brear on Manor Missile, Sara Bowe on Kilcoltrim Mermist, Phil Brown on Harry Robinson, Chloe Bell on Javas Spice, Holly Richardson on Caraghs Buffet and Chris Whittle on Skip Mill also hail from Yorkshire. Richmond’s Storm Straker is the sole Yorkshire rider in the under-25s event.
Pritchard added: “I am delighted that the local riders are supporting their local big event. It’s lovely and we have got a good international field as well.
“We have got 14 nations competing, so a lot coming from overseas as well.”
Thursday and Friday are dedicated to dressage with Saturday seeing riders tackle Ian Stark’s cross-country test with the fences built by David Evans – course builder for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Sunday sees the showjumping finale for both the main class and the under-25s with the short format finished on Saturday.
The winner of the main class will receive £5,750, plus the use of an Equi-Trek Sonic Horsebox for one year.