Thursday sees the start of St James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials. Based in a picturesque valley to the north west of Marlborough, within the grounds of the Barbury Castle estate, you can’t go wrong with a visit to this event. It is not just a favourite for competitors, who know entering without a super ballot sticker often won’t get in, but also for spectators. There is no other event that we are know of where you can sit watching the action in the main arena whilst also able to view 90% of the cross country course without moving a muscle. And what a cross country course it is: the event prides itself on its course with almost every other fence being a feature in some way, be it a dinosaur, the feature water complete with blue dye, the replica Stonehenge (this year renamed as ‘Avebury’ in honour of Andrew Nicholson’s 3 time winner) or last year the fully functioning combine harvester!
Entries as with every year are high but the international sections are especially well supported this year with one large section for the CIC*** and three bursting sections for the CIC**. The national classes running on Friday are also full to bursting and include a Pony and Junior Trial in addition to the ROR championship class which boasts an impressive £2000 first prize to the overall winner after an additional showjumping final on Sunday.
The CIC*** entries read as a who’s who of eventing, with team combinations everywhere you look. Thursday’s dressage includes multiple 4* combinations including Georgie Spence (Wii Limbo) and Craig Nicolai (Just Ironic) in the mix not to forget Andrew Nicholson with 3 rides including Nereo! Friday’s dressage though looks the more exciting with Francis Whittington riding both Easy Target who finished second here last year and Hasty Imp. Pippa Funnell brings Redesigned and Second Supreme whilst Nicola Wilson travels south with the talented Beltane Queen. The international contingent in this section includes firstly Andrew riding Avebury looking for their 4th successive title, Tim and Jonelle Price, Jock Paget, Mark Todd and too many others to mention individually, this really is a top quality field of combinations that you would struggle to see in one place elsewhere. There is no doubt selectors’ eyes will be firmly focused on the results ahead of the Europeans at Blair in September.
The CIC** though will not be overshadowed by its big brother as it showcases some of the most talented young horses in the country, in addition to a number of 4* horses of which several are giving up and coming riders educational runs. Lucinda Fredericks brings both Little Britannia and Britannias Mail who have stepped up to 2* this year, as they’re now 7yos. A close eye should be kept on Cooley SRS ridden by Oliver Townend, the 8yo has not been out of the top 5 so far this season which includes a win in the CIC** at Burnham and 4th in the CCI** at Tatterstalls. Lucy Wiegersma is also entered on her 3* campaigner Mr Chunky, for what will be her first international event after the birth of her son Tomas earlier this year.
You will never be bored at Barbury as in addition to the main eventing there are multiple supporting classes, events and performances. BYEH classes feature on Thursday whilst the weekend includes BS showjumping, inter hunt relays and the JCB champion challenge which is a particular spectator favourite. The challenge on Saturday afternoon is essentially a knockout relay competition of jockeys (captained by A P McCoy) vs Eventers (captained by Andrew Nicholson) vs Showjumpers vs the winning Hunt. It’s fast, it’s furious, and it’s definitely a laugh for all concerned.
To round off the event a notable shopping village surrounds the sides and back of the main arena (so as not to spoil the view of the course) so all your shopping urges can be satisfied and when hunger or thirst strikes multiple options are available including the infamous Outside Chance bar. Most will know of the Outside Chance from Badminton where it resides by the lake but the actual pub can be found in nearby Marlborough. You can guarantee those camping, riders, grooms, owner and spectators will be enjoying their evenings there!
If you cannot visit Barbury yourself keep checking here on e-Venting as we will be bringing you coverage each day.
For further details on the event including tickets please visit the Barbury web site.