Those wanting to book accommodation for Gatcombe, Blenheim or Burghley will have to act fast – unreserved rooms within close proximity of the events are scarce. Popular hotels in Stamford such as the George Hotel (01780 750750) give priority to their previous guests and good hotels in Woodstock such as the Feathers Hotel (01993 812291) have been fully booked since November. “As with all prestigious events there is a great demand on facilities nearby,” says Liz Ellis who runs an accommodation finder for the horse trials. “Stamford is very difficult – it’s a closed shop but it is easier to find rooms near Gatcombe or Blenheim. “It sounds awful but rooms usually only become available if someone dies – the general rule of thumb is that we are fully booked,” said a spokesperson for the George Hotel. “I would advise booking at least six to 12 months in advance – the majority of new bookings were made last November,” said Patricia Waldmann, receptionist at The Feathers Hotel.

Lady Anne’s Hotel in Stamford has the same situation. “Rooms don’t become available unless someone stops coming to the horse trials,” a spokesperson told HHO, “And priority is given to those who want to stay for all four days of the competition.”

She advised trying hotels in nearby Oakham or Peterborough as they do not follow the same policy. Barnsdale Lodge Hotel (01572 724678), about 20 minutes drive from Burghley still has limited availability and if you’re looking for accommodation for Blenheim, the Oxford Belfry (0845 1300 700), a fifteen minute drive from Blenheim Palace has a couple of rooms left. Near Gatcombe, the Calcot Manor (01666 890391) and the Whately Manor (01666 822888) both have a few rooms still available. But most advisable is to use Event Matters’ booking service: “we get a better rate because we work with these hotels are year,” Ellis explains.

Meanwhile advance-rate tickets for the three events are also selling fast. “Tickets are selling like hotcakes and all the best seats are being snapped up,” says a spokesperson for Blenheim International Horse Trials (August 31-September 3 2006). Having swapped weeks with the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (7 – 10 September 2006), Blenheim is now in the school holidays, producing an increased demand for tickets. “It is also the first event the senior riders will participate in after the World Equestrian Games,” she added, “so spectators will get a chance to welcome home the hopefully victorious British team.”

Horse & Hound readers are entitled to £1 off Saturday admission tickets to Blenheim by quoting the promotional code HH06 to the box office.

Burghley Horse Trials is experiencing similar high demand for tickets. For the first time daily admissions and car passes for Burghley Horse Trials can be purchased in advance. “We would recommend you buy in advance for your own convenience at the Event,” said Burghley press officer Candy Burnyeat, “Buying in advance means that you don’t have to be scrabbling around with the cash when you get to the event! But booking show jumping tickets in advance is critical to get a spot, as they tend to sell out well before the Event, and with the prospect of Andrew Hoy going for the Rolex Grand slam prize, this is more true than ever this year.”

The winner of the British Open at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park (4th-6th August 2006), will receive the biggest cash prize in one day evening this year – £10,000. “The Festival offers a superb weekend out for everyone involved with horse trials and the trade and this year’s programme of events is better than ever,” said Captain Mark Phillips. But again tickets are selling quickly – the event hosts no less than three championship competitions – the Novice, Intermediate and Open Championships. Advance bookings will qualify for a discounted rate.
All three events provide a perfect opportunity for a family day out whilst experiencing top level international eventing.

HHO’ recommends:

BEST FOR PICNICS

Gatcombe: pitch your rug in the Park Bowl – the natural amphitheatre ensures you see several cross-country fences including the water jump and you will also enjoy views of the house and park. If your picnic isn’t up to scratch, there is also a refreshment stand close by.

Blenheim: enjoy your picnic on the banks of the river Glyme, over looking the water complex.

Burghley: it is not difficult to find a good picnic setting in Capability Brown’s magnificent parkland. Find a spot by the Trout Hatchery, the Lion Bridge or at the start/ finish of the course overlooking the house.

BEST FOR PARKING

Blenheim: there are two picnic car parks, one with a lake view and one with a course view. Parking in these special car parks costs £80 per car, including all occupants.

To download an accommodation request form visit the events’ websites and call the box offices to purchase your tickets –

The Festival of British Eventing, Gatcombe: 0870 4288935

www.gatcombe-horse.co.uk

Blenheim Horse Trials: 0871 789 4037 (Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm) or visit:

www.blenheim-horse.co.uk

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials: 01933 304744

www.burghley-horse.co.uk