Stark sets a stunner for Bramham 2015

The final countdown has officially begun for this year’s Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials with cross country designer Ian Stark unveiling his 2015 course for the three world-class competitions running 11 – 14 June. Working with world renowned chainsaw artiste David Evans and his team as fence builders, Ian has utilised every feature and undulation he can in the glorious Yorkshire parkland with inspired designs set strategically to test the riders’ skill and bravery. The Bramham Estate staff has lovingly tended to the course route throughout the spring and the grass is in tip-top condition for the horses and riders to enjoy whilst tackling Ian’s fences. Entries are still coming in but over 150 combinations from all corners of the globe have already booked a Bramham slot in one of the three classes on offer; the Equi-Trek CCI3*, where the winner will have the use of a Equi-Trek Sonic horse box for a year, the British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3* and the Bishop Burton College U25 CCI3* and all will take on Ian’s course on Saturday 14 June.

FEI course inspection 15

Ian has a few new tests in store for the riders and an exciting new woodland loop to take the course to an area previously ‘off limits’. The start and finish remains at the highest part of the park by the stables, away from the main hustle and bustle of the showground. Fences one (the Yorkshire Post Garden) and two (the Aardvark Safaris Roll Top) remain unchanged to get the riders off to a good start. Fence three has long proved troublesome for Ian to find a suitable challenge and this year he’s relocated a favourite, the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Cones, which are bright and cheerful to get the horses airborne.

The Supreme Products Question at four has a new look with a choice of corners, right or left, so riders will have to select what suits their ride best, followed by a narrow brush to test accuracy. Ian feels ‘seconds could be lost or gained here’.

The British Equestrian Trade Association Table (fence five) will get the horse’s tucking their knees up, before the Equi-Trek Round House feature complex at six with four elements which has an extra element on the approach. The direct route will take brave riding to save vital time, or some may choose discretion to not risk a run-out but clock up extra time.

An open gallop leads to Lord Bingley’s area of the Park and the Leeds Festival Wall (fence seven), where balance and control are required from the horses and riders. The Joules Clothing London 2012 Chess Table at fence eight moves to a new location and move on up the hill a hundred metres and into the wood where a new combination at fences nine ab and ten meets the riders. The Thatched House Spread is followed strides later by the double of Thatched House Lashes to test accuracy and the communication between rider and horse.

Down through the woods, the new, massive Suregrow Keyhole (at fence 11) awaits; Ian’s advice is ‘keep kicking!’.

The Kidney Ponds (fence 12abcd) will provide a head scratcher for the riders to decide their best route. The horses have to get their feet wet twice but the rider’s will choose the path through. With a big log drop into the first pond, a tricky upright on the ‘island’ and corner on the way out, this is definitely one to head to with your picnic to watch!

On to Ian’s favourite, the Horse & Hound Leap of Faith (fence 13) which leads back through Lord Bingley’s to the Harrington’s Dog Kennel. Leading on to the Woodheads Seeds Hollow (fence 15 and 16ab), which Ian feels is ‘probably the toughest question on the course’.

A more straightforward fence, but nonetheless a big one, next with the new KBIS Rails (fence 17), before moving into the Front Park to fence 18, the Yorkshire Equine Practice Footbridge, which is not to be ignored as it’s a big spread at the bottom of a hill. Then on to the Carter Jonas Sun and Moon (fence 19ab) which usually claims a few unsuspecting riders for 20 unwanted penalties. The Generator Power Brush (fence 20) lets the horses get back in the swing before the Speedi-Beet Double Feat at fences 21/22. Being numbered separately, riders can circle before jumping the second part but for those who want to win, only one route is an option: direct.

Dropping to the lowest point on the course, the Bond Dickinson Pond (fences 23ab and 24) is a firm crowd magnet. Lenny the lobster is still in-situ for the first drop in to an accuracy test narrow before the testing Sammy the swan on exit. Then the climb home begins; has the rider been clever and conserved some energy? The Yorkshire Agricultural Society Trakehner (fence 25) gives a welcome let up before a final accuracy test at the Land Rover Above & Beyond (fences 26 and 27) before the Askham Bryan College Seat brings the finishing flags into sight with 28 fences and 40 jumping efforts behind them.

Remember, planning ahead is the best way to enjoy Bramham and by booking your tickets in advance you’ll avoid the queues and save pennies! Early booking discounts and free parking soon add up to make great savings but hurry – the telephone booking line closes on 03 June and the online box office closes on 06 June. Members’ passes and camping packages are selling fast so it you require either of these great value offerings, get booking today. Visit or call 01937 846017 but be quick! Tickets will of course be available on the gate on to purchase any day.

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A Bramham blockbuster: action, adventure, rivalry and drama

Putting on Yorkshire’s largest equestrian fixture, the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials (11 – 14 June) is similar to organising the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Actors, scenery, tales of joy, adrenaline-packed action, a director, stage, support crew and audience all come together for an amazing four day production – only difference is, the Bramham script writes itself as the action unfolds. So join us in June and be a part of 2015’s instalment and help it make an Oscar-worthy performance.

Every play or movie starts on the drawing board;

The plot

500 of the world’s finest equestrians and their magnificent steeds converge on some of Yorkshire’s finest countryside with the stunning backdrop of Bramham House for a four day feast of drama, action and excitement. For those who excel, there’ll be glory, share of the £40,675 prize money on offer and trophy bounty aplenty. The horses and riders provide the action while an audience of around 55,000 cheer them to victory and console them in defeat. A band of loyal sponsors help to ensure everything is to the highest standard while a support crew, led by the Director Nicholas Pritchard, of around 300 keep the action running to time and put on a real show.

The setting

Our equestrian tests are over several ‘acts’ with our feature being eventing, the ultimate test of horse and rider, which combines the harmony of dressage, the power of cross country and the accuracy of show jumping. The lead role is the Equi-Trek CCI3* where many a star, both human and equine, has been discovered and gone on to Championship glory at the highest levels. With Rio 2016 just around the corner, qualification will be a goal for many. In the supporting roles are the Bishop Burton College u25 CCI3* and the British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3* – be assured that these are every bit as action packed as our star. As if the action wasn’t enough, this performance also packs in show jumping, young stock and breeding classes, top flight showing and a touch of comedy from the fast and furious Pony Club activities. All of this is set in around 450 acres of pristine parkland surrounding Bramham House, home to the Lane Fox family, which could tell a story or two itself but that’s another film!

The scenery

Our expansive auditorium provides the perfect setting for watching. A corner of ‘green and pleasant land’ provides optimum conditions for horses and riders while a shopping village, Members Bar and Bistro built by our new suppliers Coopers marquees, and food outlets, licensed bar and Food Hall featuring local producers, give added attraction for our audience. They’ll also have their own mini escapade in the ‘Action and Adventure in Yorkshire’ area with a family fun zone for the little people. Saturday is the cross country where the action and adrenaline levels are upped as the eventers tackle Olympic legend Ian Stark’s cross country course which is masterfully built by David Evans and his team. New fences and an exciting new loop all combine to make this blockbuster one to remember.

The cast

Our final play list is still to be finalised but leading riders always target Bramham and the entry list will read like a who’s who of the sport. William Fox-Pitt is often our leading man; he’s taken the Bramham title a staggering seven times. British team mates Pippa Funnell, Zara Phillips, Laura Collett, Kristina Cook and Yorkshire’s Nicola Wilson and Oliver Townend are regulars. No production would be complete without a touch of international flavour and visitors from France provide some ‘joi de vivre’, the Antipodean contingent bring fierce rivalry, Irish raiders always make it a good ‘craic’ along with plenty of other nations.

Support acts

Our epic production this year is supporting local independent charity the Yorkshire Air Ambulance who cover five million Yorkshire residents with two air craft. Completely funded by donations, the charity requires around £10,000 per day to keep this life saving service flying and they’ll be part of our cast to demonstrate the work they do and fund raise over the four days. Lance, their mascot will be on hand to meet everyone, he’s really looking forward to the children’s games and activities on Saturday and Sunday as well as his favourite…cake! He may be disappointed as the cake is for sale to raise money.

Every good production needs some cute, furry four legged friends and ours come via the Tailwagger Club and Samsalin Dog Rescue Creche. Throughout the event you can take your canine through the ‘have a go’ games and on Sunday there’s a fun dog show. Samsalin are providing a crèche for your dog so you can leave him to ‘take five’ while you shop or eat daily between 8:30am and 5:30pm – they’re also selling doggie delights to raise money for the Rescue.

The action over the coloured poles from our show jumpers is always a crowd pleaser in the main arenas. Top-class competitions usually with cliff-hanger finishes include the Bramham Classic, the Suregrow Fertiliser Six Bar, the Bramham Speed Classic and the finale, the Wetherby Skips Grand Prix on Sunday with a £1,500 first prize.

The audience and extras

Our visitors can all be extras in our production; there’s a range of ticketing options but it’s best to book early for discounts and FREE parking – a saving of £5.00. Adult entry starts from £11 and children 12 and under go free with a paying adult. You could fully immerse yourself in the Bramham experience by camping on site; there are season or weekend packages but hurry, they’re limited and very popular so get booking. Also at a premium are tickets to our ringside Members’ enclosure which brings a touch of VIP to your visit with a Members’ Bar and Bistro. Tickets can be booked on-line anytime until 06 June and phone bookings open today (01 May) until 03 June. Call 01937 846017 between 2:00pm and 4:00pm on weekdays.

So, the final rehearsals are underway, the set dressers are working furiously to have everything ready and our key players are getting geared up and in fine form, all that remains is for you to join us over 11 – 14 June to help us write that script.

Will we have a hero or heroine? After all, equestrian sport is one of a few where men and woman compete on equal terms. Who will take the spoils and will it be a performance worthy of a BAFTA? What production, action and emotions will unfold? Be part of the best live-action drama on offer in 2015 – don’t miss Bramham!

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