The final countdown is on for this year’s Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials at Bramham Park in Wetherby (June 8-11).
One of the key elements which make this Yorkshire equestrian event such a spectacle – Ian Stark’s cross country courses - have been revealed.
Handcrafted by David Evans and his team, the courses will be in action on Saturday 10 June when around 180 brave horse and rider combinations will attempt Ian’s challenge over three competitions; Bramham’s show piece competition, the Equi-Trek CCI3, the Bishop Burton College U25 CCI3 and the British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3.
Riders get started at the highest point in the park near the stables with the first fence, the Yorkshire Post Garden and on to the Aardvark Safaris Roll Top at two. The first combination of fences comes next, the multi-coloured Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Cones, but no time for a sample of the goods here!
The Supreme Products Question at four has a different look this year, there’s just two elements but Ian has tested the rider’s ability to hold a line. Heading towards the Park’s iconic feature, the Round House, is the imposing, British Equestrian Trade Association Table (5). The Equi-Trek Round House at six has had a face lift, with a new hanging log up to a couple of corners then on to a second hanging log. Those looking for a win will need their horses firing on all cylinders as Ian says; “For the horses that are on form this should ride like a gymnastic exercise, but there’s plenty room for errors and the competition could easily be won or lost here!”
Across to Lord Bingleys where the Stick Pile at seven is on the approach to the slope down before rising with the woods in sight where the combination of the Joules Clothing Silver Birch Rails (8) and the Woodhead Seeds Offset Rails (9) awaits.
Out of the woods through the impressive Powa Services Keyhole at ten – spectators can enjoy a spectacular view of the House here but our competitors won’t have the chance! A downhill approach to a real test at 11 and 12, the two Suregrow Kidney Ponds. Two significant drops into the water will test the horse’s bravery (and willingness to get wet hooves) followed by a ‘skinny’ out where riders will need to ride smartly.
On to Ian’s personal favourite at 13, the Horse & Hound Leap of Faith which leads back through the trees at Lord Bingley’s on to a new Spinney combination at 14 which needs full respect and on to the Harrington’s Dog Kennel (15) before turning to the Hollow at 16 and 17. The straight route is by far and away the fastest but those playing safe have plenty of options.
There’s a little time to catch the breath at 18, the KBIS Oxer before heading down the hill into the front Park, where the Komfi Bedstead (19) awaits. A change of route brings our competitors to the new look Bond Dickinson Pond at 20. Thousands of tonnes of earth have been moved to produce a ‘blank canvas’ area for Ian’s imagination to run wild and his first creation won’t disappoint!
A short sharp rise brings 21, the Speedi-Beet Double Feat combination which is situated downhill so riders will need to have their horses in balance and listening well.
On to 22, the course regular, the Carter Jonas Sun and Moon are reversed and horses mustn’t be distracted by the main arena collecting ring where our show jumpers will be busy preparing for their action.
Horses will know their noses are headed home now as they head toward 23, the Yorkshire Cruise Club Trakehner before the final climb to the Land Rover Above and Beyond (24 and 25) at the penultimate.
The Finale (26) will be a welcome sight for many but still needs respect and jumping before cantering through the finish flags and stopping the time clock.
Event Director Nicholas Pritchard is delighted with the progress as the clock ticks down toward kick off on Wednesday 7 June when the site will welcome most of the horses. “The estate team have been working hard and I think the park is looking better than ever,” he said. “The early spring sunshine followed by some rain and then more sunshine has given the grass boost and we’ve been mowing regularly to give the horse’s the best going possible. Ian and David have pulled out all the stops this year with their cross country course developments, the riders and spectators are going to be impressed! We’re about ready; the Park is looking amazing, the marquees are being built, the finishing touches are being worked on, we can’t wait to welcome everyone to our slice of Yorkshire heaven for some top-flight action and enjoyment.“
Those planning on attending are advised to book tickets in advance but the online box office closes at midnight on 4 June. Visit www.bramham-horse.co.uk.