Stark saluted as testing course proves a winner

BIGGER and better than ever was the verdict from the organising team about this year’s Welcome to Yorkshire Bramham International Horse Trials.

The four-day event, which finished on Sunday, attracted a total number of 59,000 people, which was 3.5 per cent up on last year.

“We were delighted because last year was our biggest crowd,” said the event’s director, Nick Pritchard. A combination of good weather, increased television coverage and a cross-country course designed by former Olympic rider Ian Stark, led to the bumper attendance.

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Several changes had been made to the event this year, including new entrances and parking areas and a move for the camp site and the horses’ stabling. There was a new start and finish for the cross-country course, which made it more accessible for spectators, and it was easier for the riders to get to and from their stables.

“I think the changes worked well,” said Nick Pritchard.

“The traffic worked better, people weren’t getting stuck in queues. We were able to get over 300 caravans onto the new site and the competitors liked having their warm-up area as well as their privacy.

“We try to think of every scenario and I still have a long list of what I want to do a bit differently next year. But overall we are thrilled.”

Stark’s big and bold cross-country course was well received by the riders and particularly by Huddersfield’s Oliver Townend, who came third in the main CCI three-star competition.

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He said: “His courses are what the whole eventing world has needed for a long time.”

Much work had also gone into preparing the ground, which needed constant watering and Pritchard added: “The course was a real test and it proved that you can’t get away without having a real three-star horse at Bramham.

“It was a very strong course but always very fair and flowing. Even some of the riders who always grumble said it was okay.”

Once the clear-up operation has been completed and both parkland and the horse trails office return to normal, work will begin on planning next year’s event which will run from June 7-10.

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SHOWJUMPING is also always a big attraction over the Bramham weekend and this year the competitions included the Yorkshire Post 1.3m open class.

Both first and second places were taken by Paul Barker, from Northallerton, riding Amira and Amadeus, respectively.

In third place was Louise Redford, from Honley, riding Sporting Charisma; fourth was James Hughes, from Doncaster, riding Inni Moon and fifth was Emmerson Sender, from Consett, County Durham, riding Townhead Crespa.

BRITISH showjumper Nick Skelton proved his good form at the weekend when he won the £219,000 St Gallen Grand Prix in Switzerland.

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He comes homes with the bulk of the prize money after putting in an impressive performance riding Beverley Widdowson’s Carlo.

Team members Scott Brash (Intertoy Z) and Robert Smith (Talan) also went through to the jump-off to finish in the top 10 but it was Skelton who went clear to beat the USA’s Rich Fellers into second place.

OLIVIA MALTBY, 9, from Doncaster, was in good form at the Lancashire Championships, Longridge clinching the overall supreme championship and receiving the Robert Billington Memorial Trophy for the second year running.

Olivia was riding the six-year-old part-bred Dartmoor pony Chagford Leon. It took the Premier Show Pony Championship and qualified at Newark and Notts County for the Royal International.

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Olivia also scored a double with the nine-year-old Cottrell Chaucer by winning the 122cm Show Hunter Pony (an International qualifier) and becoming reserve champion. In the Premier League, Olivia and Chaucer qualified for the Royal International at BSPS Area 4B, delighting parents Louise and Alick and producer Gill Thompson.

Storm Straker (12), from Caldwell, clinched her Royal International ticket in the 133cm working hunter class and also won the Premier League and reserve champion. Storm, daughter of Nick and Vicky Straker, is the niece of former Olympic rider Karen Dixon. She qualified with the seven-year-old Milford Fair Kommander, bred by Kim Money, from Ripon, having had some good placings at the BSPS Winter Championships.

Money also bred Milford Grand Marnier, ridden by Claris Forrest, from Burnley, who gained her ticket for the Royal International winning show pony champion and reserve supreme. Ten-year-old Sophie Openshaw, from Sheffield, took the novice show pony championship riding Brookwater Candy Floss by Barkway Georgia.

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