Coming very soon: Barbury International Horse Trials - a local fixture for many world class event riders
The St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials held at the Barbury Castle Estate on the Marlborough Downs next week (July 7-10) are seen as a home fixture, a local event for the impressive clutch of eventers based in the surrounding area.
The organisers gathered together seven of the best for a 'photocall at the cross country obstacle named after four-times winner of the Barbury CIC3* event, the popular grey Avebury ridden by Andrew Nicholson.
The seven event riders at the photocall were Tim Price (New Zealand), Astier Nicolas (France), Rebecca Howard (Canada), Sir Mark Todd (New Zealand), Flora Harris (Great Britain), Jonelle Price (New Zealand) and Andrew Nicholson (New Zealand) - they are all based within a fifteen mile radius of Barbury - and will all be competing there.
All seven of them are either decorated Olympians, members of their country's high performance squads, already selected to represent or are long-listed for their country's team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Nigel Bunter, owner of the Barbury Castle Estate and the event's Chairman, expects a thousand and more horse and rider combinations - including Rio hopefuls - to be at Barbury: “Nowhere in the UK and probably the world compares with the number of world class event riders that are based within a 15 mile radius of Barbury Castle, Marlborough and we are really looking forward to welcoming them all here to their local event."
Apart from the extra interest added to the Barbury International Horse Trials' competitions by the Rio Games, there is a new addition to the programme this year. The third leg of the Event Rider Masters (ERM) will be held on Saturday and Sunday.
The introduction of the ERM is giving the sport of eventing an extra lift and making it the focus for a lot of public attention. Each leg is covered by television cameras and live streamed to a worldwide audience.
This new sporting series is showcasing the world’s best event riders with a total of £350,000 in prize money on offer with each leg promising a minimum of £50,000. It comes too with a touch of Formula One glamour - complete with generous spraying of champagne on the winners' podium.
Also based near to Barbury but not pictured are Team GB long-listed Rio hope Kitty King (Chippenham - 14 miles), Australia's former winner of the Badminton Horse Trials Paul Tapner (Blunsdon, Swindon - 9 miles), and New Zealand High Performance athlete Jesse Campbell (Ramsbury - 10 miles from Barbury).
Those three Wiltshire eventers and six of those featured in the group photo above will be taking part in the Barbury leg of the ERM competition.
There is going to be one noticeable absentee of the competitions at Barbury this year. Andrew Nicholson's sixteen-year-old grey gelding Avebury (owned by Mrs Rosemary Barlow and Mr Mark Barlow) has been retired.
Avebury will be missed by many.
Tickets for the Barbury International Horse Trials start from £12 per person per day booked in advance. Children under 12 years go free. For information and tickets visit the Barbury website or call 01672 516125.