A record number of top British and international riders are making their way to Bramham International Horse Trials (8 to 11 June) for northern England’s most prestigious event. Pippa Funnell, Daisy Dick and Ruth Edge have all entered the CCI three-star and the current European Eventing Champion Zara Phillips and British eventing squad member Oliver Townend will be contesting the Bishop Burton College U25 CCI three-star.

Held at beautiful Bramham Park in Yorkshire, the event offers riders the chance to test their horses over course-designer Sue Benson’s demanding cross-country track. “The three-star is where the stars are born,” said Benson. “This is where riders find out whether or not this is their horse’s limit – horses that go well here really are very good horses.” Among the 27 cross-country obstacles is the unashamedly testing Smiths Gore Bingley’s Log Pile and T-Bar – the first combination on the course and the Snuggledown Duck Down Pond which had a big impact last year. “The bounce out of the water to the narrow barrel was influential in 2005 and I see no reason for this statistic to change,” said Benson. The Ripon Farm Services Rhombus at the end of the course, the undoing of several competitors last year, is also making another appearance.

Zara Phillips will be partnering Ardfield Magic Star – a talented cross-country performer who has jumped clear around advanced tracks at Bicton and Chatsworth this year. Phillips will be competing against Oliver Townend who finished third at Badminton in May and was subsequently selected for Britain’s WEG squad. Townend, who is on the World Class Potential programme, will be trying his luck with Measure for Measure – fourth at Burnham Market CIC three-star earlier this season.

Two young Italian stars will also be vying for success in the U25 class. Vittoria Panizzon (King of the Castle II) and Susanna Bordone (Carrera) are certain to shake the leaderboard. Britain’s Jade Lazenby (Master BlasterII) is keen to make a mark on the Bramham scoreboard. The young talent, who works for Lucy Wiegersma, was runner-up in the U25 section at Belton Park and eighth in the U25 at Bicton with Master Blaster, a horse previously ridden by James Robinson and Abi Walters.
Bramham Director, Harry Verney said “With riders of this calibre in the Under 25 CCI*** Event, the competition this year promises to be very exciting.” Also competing will be Cressida Clague Reading, Gemma Tattersall, Oliver Smith and Tamsyn Hutchins – all members of the World Class training programme.

Last year’s winner William Fox-Pitt will not be present to defend the senior title but the event boasts a very competitive line up. Rolex Grand Slam winner Pippa Funnell will be riding Blue Horizon, seventh at Bicton in April and Ruth Edge, who performed brilliantly at Badminton this year, will be partnering Marsh Mayfly. Sarah Cohen has two chances – Cottage Craft Spirals and Hide & Seek II as does Francis Whittington with Lucky Chance II and Spin Doctor. Local talent is represented by Sue Chadwick from Huddersfield (R J Maxi) and Nicola Tweddle from Morton on Swale (Don’t Underestimate and Opposition Buzz).

But it is the international competitors who are likely to give British riders a run for their money: Germany’s Anna Warnecke and Stefanie Thompson, and Ireland’s Sacha Pemble and Austin O Connor will be joined by Andrew Nicholson and Brooke Staples.

The dressage phase of the competition begins tomorrow (Thursday) and continues until Friday afternoon, along with the Winergy Burghley Young Event Horse Competition. Saturday is cross-country day and there will also be BSJA Junior and Senior Show Jumping classes and Pony Club Games.

Sunday features the final part of the three day event – the show jumping phase, plus the Rensburg Sheppards Mix & Match competition where the show jumping riders team up with the event riders, culminating in the Holroyd Construction Grand Prix.

Regular Bramham updates will be available on HHO throughout the competition and further information is available at www.bramham-horse.co.uk.