Olympic hopefuls to test north’s newest advanced eventing course

Artist Oliver Speck-Smith with Quackers Leap, one of the feature fences at Burgham this weekend he painted. Photo by Trevor Walker

Artist Oliver Speck-Smith with Quackers Leap, one of the feature fences at Burgham this weekend he painted. Photo by Trevor Walker

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SOME of the biggest names in eventing, including Team GB Olympic hopefuls, will be competing against each other at the new advanced event at Burgham this weekend.

UK riders Nicola Wilson, Ruth Edge, Ian Stark and Matthew Wright and New Zealand’s Caroline Powell are among more than 300 entrants for the inaugural advanced event at the Northumberland venue.

And they will be the first to try out the Ronald Alexander-designed international standard course.

As well as competitors from across the north east and Cumbria, many are travelling from as far afield as the Scottish Highlands, Kent and Ireland to take part.

Building work has been led by former top eventer Peter Wilson and there are four courses with classes for advanced, intermediate, open intermediate, novice, BE100 open and BE100.

Features on the 3.5 mile course include two water jumps, two water crossings, a fruit and vegetable cart, a rugby goal and a 9ft duck!

Peter said: “The site has a lot going for it in the terrain, which has plenty of undulating ground without being too hilly.

“In the advanced track and the intermediate all the questions have been asked, while the novice and BE100 classes have been designed to ask questions of both horse and rider all the way, without making it too difficult.

“I am very aware that this is probably for most of the novice and BE100 classes their first run of the 2012 season, therefore I have leant on the softer side of difficulty, and would like to see quite a high percentage completing the course, although there are a few gentle reminders that schooling is over and the competitions have begun.”

Prize money is on offer for in all sections at the event, being held on Saturday and Sunday.

Burgham is located just off the A1 between Morpeth and Alnwick in Northumberland about 25 miles north of Newcastle, and gates open at 8am both days.

Entry costs £5 for adults and is free for British Eventing members and under-16s.

British Eventing’s regional co-ordinator for Scotland and the north, Frances Hay-Smith, said: “It’s a fantastic new course built by Ronald Alexander and Peter Wilson designed for the beginning of the season to get riders up and running. The ground looks great.

“It’s fabulous to have an event of this quality in Northumberland, which is a very horse rich county.

“Apart from Hexham we haven’t had anything in Northumberland for years.

“There will be an opportunity to see top riders competing at the top national level.”

Work started months ago for both the Burgham events – the second of which takes place from July 13 to 15.

Like last year, the July event will include BE90, BE100 and novice classes in eventing and the £12,000 Burgham Classic Grand Prix, which should once again attract all the top names in showjumping.

Organisers say this summer’s event will be expanded to ensure it offers sporting action and entertainment for all the family, with a host of new attractions to be announced soon.

Joint organiser David Nicholson said: “We intend to build on the success of our 2011 event and make July this year bigger and better.

“We will once again have British Eventing and British Showjumping which includes the £12,000 Burgham Classic Grand Prix and various showing classes, alongside a much bigger retail village and entertainment arena.”

The event website at www.burghamhorsetrials.co.uk has information on both events.

Trade stand applications are now open for July and are available by e-mailing david@burghamhorsetrials.co.uk or via the website.