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.
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 www.bramham-horse.co.uk or call 01937 846017 but be quick! Tickets will of course be available on the gate on to purchase any day.