In the U.A.E. Windsor International Horse Trials three-day-event, a truly international field will be battling it out, with riders from Australia, France, New Zealand, Norway, Russia and the United States joining the British contingent in the royal setting. Huge entries for the competition, more than 120, mean that the dressage begins this afternoon, although the event begins formally tomorrow.

The Team Challenge is set to be a highlight of the weekend, with Olympic medallists Andrew Hoy (Australia), Matt Ryan (Australia), William Fox-Pitt (GB) and Pippa Funnell (GB) and a host of other stars of the eventing world going head-to-head.

The British team has an interesting array of horses for this event. William Fox-Pitt rides the veteran Stunning, who came fifth at Chatsworth two weeks ago. Zara Phillips’ ride, Springleaze Macaroo had an equally successful time at Chatsworth, and she will be eager to fly the Royal colours for Britain this weekend. Matter-of-Fact (Pippa Funnell) and The Master’s Lady (Sarah Cutteridge) are both having their first international outings this season.

The CCI** competition features some top names with some exciting young potential. Three of the British Olympic Eventing team are running youngsters: Birthday Night (William Fox-Pitt), Ensign (Pippa Funnell) and Artic Fox Too (Leslie Law).

The international representation is impressive, too. Young Australian hotshot Paul Tapner rides Highspring, joining his more experienced fellow countrymen Andrew Hoy and Matt Ryan and Kir Major adds an unusual touch of Russian blood to the event.