With just two weeks to go, cross country designer Ian Stark and course builder David Evans have finally released details of this year’s eagerly-awaited cross country course – the showpiece of the Welcome to Yorkshire Bramham International Horse Trials, June 2-5.
In 2010, three-times Badminton winner Stark impressed in his inaugural year with a changed route, many new fences and a fresh design style.
The addition of Olympic course builder David Evans has upped the ante and the site layout has undergone a significant re-vamp to improve traffic flow, safety for the horses moving around the Park and increasing space for some areas.
The start and finish is now in the Obelisk Paddock beyond the West and Equi-Trek East Arenas so spectators will only have a short stroll from the trade stands to walk the course form the start.
The Welcome to Yorkshire CCI*** and Bishop Burton College Under 25 CCI*** course features 24 fences with 35 jumping efforts and measures approximately 6080 metres and should take about ten minutes 40 seconds for the competitive combinations to complete. At 3950 metres, the CIC*** course is slightly shorter with 21 fences and 29 jumping efforts.
The first two fences, the Yorkshire Post Walled Garden (1) and the Sharecheval Saw Bench” (2) are straightforward and get the horses going.
At the bottom of the first hill, The Bramham Bridge (3) is a re-sited fence where balance and control will be needed. The Carter Jonas Combination at 4 will be the first real test, sited on a downward ramp on the landing side to provide a big jump before a choice of route for the brave and those playing safe.
A long gallop follows the Generator Power Brush at 5 with the Welcome to Yorkshire Ys (6) on the horizon. A pair of 11 foot high Y’s may be a distraction to the horses rather than the intended two vertical jumps.
The Alan Chappelow Beech Delight (7) under the beech trees leads to the feature water complex at 8, the Dickinson Dees Beachside. A drop into the lower pond over a Lobster followed by a hanging log into the top water is a reasonable question.
But, once negotiated, a couple of David Evans carved whales create a bit of a hazard. The British Horse Feeds Trakehner at fence 9 is big but straightforward before the test of the new Land Rover Ranch (10). Two big, open corners will favour the bold and accurate while the alternative will add lots of time penalties.
Fences 11, the Viaduct and 12, the Double of Brush Oxers are at the highest point of the course, so saving some energy on the climb is important.
Once jumped the terrain becomes a little softer with lots of galloping over the Leeds Festival Wall (13) and the Fulmart Feeds Hay Cart (14). The Equi-Trek Step up to Sonic (15) will still take strong riding before the gaping ditch at 16, the Equi-Trek Leap which should give some spectacular photos.
The Welcome to Yorkshire Triple Brush (17) at the bottom of Lord Bingley’s is a let up then the Double of Corners at 18 has a new look from 2011. This was influential last year and may end the hopes of some riders in 2011.
The Joules Clothing House View at 19 with a great view of the house leads down to the Tuffa Boots (20) where it’s time to get feet wet once again.
Energy levels will begin to run low so riders’ concentration is much needed. The Smiths Gore Leap of Faith (21) looks huge but will be fun. Three from home the Woodheads Seeds Sheep Feeders (22) are not big but the three fences will need accurate jumping.
No time to stop to sample at the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Parlour (23) before dipping through the wood to the last the Poskitts Carrot Box (24) and the welcome sight of the finish line.
Equally important as the route, design and build of the cross country has been the going for the horses and much work has been put in to ensure the best possible footing including a programme of watering, rolling, mowing and aerovating including the innovative Verti Drain machine.
Ian Stark said: “My debut course at Bramham last year went down well with the riders and spectators and I was pleased with the jumping statistics but, there’s always room for improvement.
“David and his team have really brought the course to life with their amazing skill – they’re the best in the business with a chain saw! I’ve tried to continue with my style of encouraging bold riding with accuracy and judgement.
“The entries are strong this year with some of the best in the world and I hope I’ve produced suitable questions.
“Rest assured, those who go home with a clear cross country under their belts will know they have a special horse.”
To purchase tickets, get the news and see the full timetable, visit www.bramham-horse.co.uk.