The Maybach Barbury International Horse Trials, a new CIC*** fixture, is making its debut this weekend at the iron-age hill-fort of Barbury Castle, Marlborough.

The event, which features a newly designed cross-country course and an Olympic-sized show jumping arena with water jump and bank, is sponsored by Maybach, the luxury limousine brand of DaimlerChrysler. Spectators will be able to place bets on site with an independent bookmaker and a form guide can be studied in the event programme.

Eventing superstars from 10 different nations will be contesting the impressive £5,000 purse. British Olympic medallists Pippa Funnell, Leslie Law and William Fox-Pitt (pictured) will each be riding two horses, as will promising British talents Francis Whittington and Louisa Lockwood.

Germany’s Bettina Hoy and Brazil’s Carlos Paro will be among the international riders vying for the solid silver Challenge Trophy, which has been specially commissioned from Inkerman of London. The event is also a key qualifier for “the majors” including the European Eventing Championships at Blenheim in September 2005 and the World Championships in Aachen. Each of the top 10 finishers in the CIC*** will receive replica Inkerman trophies.

The brand new cross-country course has been meticulously designed by Mark Phillips and the fences have been built by the reputable Willis Brothers, who have also designed courses at Badminton and Burghley. The springy old turf at Barbary ensures that going should be perfect on the cross-country course and in the main arena.

Olympic Gold medallist David Green, Barbury Castle’s Competition Director says: “Barbury Castle has some of the best going I have seen around the world. Even in the driest summer, you will still get spring out of this ground.”

The cross-country has been designed with the spectator in mind, with all fences visible from the main pavilion. Set on treeless, rolling downs, the course includes two water jumps — one complete with dolphin — and a picnic table with impressive carved owls. The pièce de résistance is The Earthline Quarry, a replica of Stonehenge with an intriguing combination of narrow upright, bounce, drop and wall.

“I am thrilled to be involved with this spectacular new venue and am really pleased with the way that the course has worked out, giving spectators even better viewing than at Gatcombe,” says course designer Mark Phillips, “I am confident that Barbury will justify the honour of running a CIC*** in its first year”.

Novice eventing classes are scheduled to take place on Saturday and a separate “top score” show jumping competition will take place on Sunday, adding to the excitement. Twelve of the world’s top event riders will tackle a challenging course of show jumps with the aim of clearing the most fences in a set time. Fences will be valued according to difficulty and will feature Barbury’s unique main arena water jump. With £500 prize money for the winner the competition is sure to be an exhilarating spectacle.

Although Maybach is new to eventing, the decision to sponsor the event at Barbury follows other Maybach marketing partnerships in the international horse world including flat racing and polo. Eventing is also new to Barbury but horses have always been at the centre of the Estate. Racehorses have been trained on the gallops since the early 1900s including seven times Royal Ascot winner Brown Jack.

The horse trials will be offering plenty of entertainment for spectators. Fifty trade stands specialising in quality products such as Equine America and Musto will be open for the duration of the weekend, as well as a variety of food stalls. In collaboration with Marlborough’s famous Jazz Festival, The Barbury Castle Horse Trials will be staging jazz entertainment on Sunday.

Further details are available now at www.barburyhorsetrials.co.uk or (tel: 0870 609 8014).