This year’s Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park (3-5 August) has a revamped track and a number of brand new fences in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first horse trials held at this prestigious venue.
“This year’s course is different and has a new feel,” says course-designer Capt Mark Phillips of the British Open Championships course. “But it is very much a championship track.”
At the EHOA Martin Collins Stables fence at number 4, Capt Phillips has introduced an uphill bounce for the Open competitors.
“A bounce uphill like that is not something you see very often,” he says. “But I think if you kick on with a bit of pace it will hopefully ride well.”
Capt Phillips also predicts that the three left-handed Pet Plan Equine corners at fence 11, on a right-handed bend that “tightens up on you” will be influential.
“Traditionally we’ve had one of the most difficult fences on the course here, and I don’t think this one will be any exception,” he says.
The Land Rover Offset at The Folly, fences 16 and 17
The Land Rover Offset at The Folly at fences 16 and 17 is another new fence on an old site. Here, horses have to jump a narrow Land Rover logo before turning to tackle a further pair of skinny offset logos.
“The distance is a bit more forward and when riders are trying to be accurate they don’t always like going more forward,” explains Capt Phillips.
The offset skinnies at the Land Rover Offset at The Folly, fence 17
The second water obstacle (pictured below) follows a new loop on the course and uses the tail of the Loch Ness Monster in the BETA Water at fence 25 as arrowhead fences. The left-hand route is used for the Open Championship, the central route for the intermediate and the right hand route for the novice.
The BETA Water, showing open, intermediate and novice fences
The BETA Water, fence 25 on the Open Championship course
For advance bookings for Gatcombe, visit www.gatcombe-horse.co.uk or (tel: 0871 789 1423).