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The jewel in the crown of the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials has been unveiled for this year’s event (9 – 12 June) – Ian Stark’s cross country courses. Around 170 horse and rider combinations will tackle the courses on Saturday, 11 June over the four competitions, the showcase Equi-Trek CCI3*, the Bishop Burton College U25 CCI3*, the British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3* and inaugural Bramham leg of the Event Rider Masters. A result of 11 months of planning, siting and building, Ian has again set the riders a stunning test of bravery, accuracy and stamina using the features of the parkland. The fences are all expertly crafted by David Evans and his team. The Bramham Estate staff have lovingly nurtured the track throughout the winter and now spring has sprung, the ‘green carpet’ is nearly ready for the galloping hooves.
Riders will start off at the highest part of the Park over one, the Yorkshire Post Garden and quickly on to the Aardvark Safaris Roll Top at two. The first major change to the course comes in the form of a double at the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Cones.
Riders can open the horses up towards the fourth, the Supreme Products Question, a big-standing combination with plenty of alternatives. The quick straight route requires positivity and holding a line but there’s a time consuming route for those who daren’t risk an early error.
The British Equestrian Trade Association Table at five is an impressive looking fence which should ride nicely in the run-up to the Equi-Trek Round House and Leap at six, now an iconic feature on the course. The first question at the Equi-Trek Round House is a set of narrow rails which should put horses on the right striding to go up a step to ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ who makes a return. The ‘rider frightener’ Equi-Trek Leap has been replaced by a narrower version to increase the scare factor! This is a real spectator ‘honey pot’ so make sure you get your spot for that picnic!
The Leeds Festival Wall at the bottom of Lord Bingley’s Walk at fence seven and pays homage to the Park’s other main event. The tricky Joules Clothing Silver Birch Rails and the Woodheads Seeds Offset Rails at nine could catch some out in the woods before they enjoy some ‘air’ exiting the trees over the Hanging Keyhole at ten – cameras at the ready for this one.
Fence 11, the Suregrow Kidney Ponds sits on a tight line and undulating ground and, in Ian’s words, requires riders to ‘have their brave pants on’! Once they have navigated the ponds, riders must get moving up to the Horse and Hound Leap of Faith – an old classic and still Ian’s favourite fence on the course.
The Harringtons Dog Kennel is wide but relatively friendly and should set riders up nicely for the Investec Hollow at 14 and 15. There’s a new triple brush on the way out so it’s boldness and accuracy required all the way through the combination.
The big and bold KBIS Rails at 16 are a straight forward question but require respect before a new challenge at 17, the Komfi Bedstead – hope no one gets caught napping here! The spectacular Carter Jonas Sun and Moon again stand in the same place at fence 18.
The Generator Power Ditch at 19, has had a touch of modernization to look considerably more formidable as rails alone hanging on a frangible pin for safety. Next up, the Speedi-Beet Double Feat (20 and 21) which always causes problems. An acute corner requires precision while a big spread with a fairly concerning drop.
The final major challenge on the course is the Bond Dickinson Pond at 22 – here’s hoping there’s some energy left in the tank. Being only four fences from home, it takes some major jumping. A new waterfall might look pretty to the spectators and be a great shot for photographer but what will our equine competitors make of it?
The horses will feel the draw to home now as they gallop up the hill and over the Yorkshire Cruise Club Trakehner (24) and on to the Land Rover Above and Beyond where riders will need to hold their line so an annoying 20 penalties aren’t incurred so close to the end.
The Event Rider Masters Finale is inviting and friendly to finish at 27 but, as the last fence, always requires respect and riding.
Ian Stark commented; “I can’t believe it’s my seventh year – where has the time gone! It feels like only yesterday that I went through the nervous agonies of my first CCI3* with Bramham. It’s been such a fantastic park to work in with amazing features and I enjoy being able to set a test for the riders which utilises them along with combining good, old fashioned bravery and modern thinking. This year’s course encompasses just that so I’m looking forward to seeing brave horses and riders rewarded, perhaps even with a spot in Rio.”
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 on entry tickets and parking 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 now. Visit www.bramham-horse.co.uk