Eric Winter, 43, will be responsible for designing the cross-country course at Blenheim Horse Trials this year (6-9 September).

For the last 17 years Olympic course designer Mike Etherington-Smith has commandeered the design of the Blenheim track, with Winter acting as his assistant since 2004. The 2007 Blenheim course will be Winter’s first international three star project although he presently designs 11 courses on the national circuit.

Having competed at both Badminton and Burghley, Winter is familiar with top level cross-country courses from a rider’s as well as a designer’s perspective and is delighted to have been assigned the brief.

“This appointment has come as a nice surprise. It’s a great thrill to have the opportunity to design at an event of this status,” said Winter. “Blenheim has a strong tradition of fair but testing courses which ride well, so I will be starting off quietly but there will be some changes of my own.”

Meanwhile Mike Etherington-Smith will continue in his role of event director, which he combines with international course-designing and the chairing of British Eventing’s new Sports Committee.

“I have decided that it’s time to see new blood at Blenheim. It’s always refreshing to see what someone else can do on a familiar site and, with all my commitments, I felt the time was right to hand over,” he explained. “Eric has made many useful suggestions during his time as my assistant, and he has a great feel for course-designing. I look forward to seeing what he does.”

As well as working at Blenheim, Winter also designs courses for international classes at Somerley Park and Chepstow, and has been a member of the committee at Chepstow three-day event for 15 years. With his wife, Lizzie, he runs the Severn Vale Equestrian Centre.

Tickets to Blenheim, and information on the event, are available already via online bookings at: The Box Office will be open for postal and telephone bookings from 1 May.

STOP PRESS: 22 January, ’07

Eric Winter has taken over the role of cross-country course designer at Longleat Horse Trials from Sue Benson. Benson has stepped down from Longleat due to her commitments at Bramham and the Pan American Games.