The beautiful parkland of the Gatcombe estate has been home to the British Open Eventing Championship for advanced horses and riders since 1983, when David Green won the first event for Australia.
Following a second win by an international rider in 1985 — the legendary Mark Todd for New Zealand — British Eventing decided that the highest placed British rider in the class each year would be crowned British Champion.
The list of British Open winners reads like a veritable who’s who of eventing with Ginny Leng, Lucinda Green and David O’Connor alongside Pippa Funnell, Andrew Hoy and Andrew Nicolson. Read the full list of previous winners >>
Mary King has been crowned the British champion on five occasions, winning the class outright four times and being the highest placed British rider in 1997, when Andrew Hoy and Darien Powers triumphed overall. William Fox-Pitt has four British Open titles to his name, while the legendary Mark Todd has also won the event four times.
Three horses share the spotlight in the British Open equine hall of fame with two wins apiece. Mark Todd’s famous diminutive partner Charisma won in 1985 and 1988; Mary King’s popular King William won in 1991 and 1996; while William Fox-Pitt’s quirky Moon Man has proved himself to be a Gatcombe specialist by taking the title in 2000 and 2005.
The riders taking part will contest a one-day three-star advanced level competition. Some riders will ride their dressage test the day before their show jumping and cross-country, due to the large numbers of riders competing. The cross-country will be the final phase of the event, with riders competing in reverse order of merit to ensure a nail-biting conclusion.
The British Open championship was joined at Gatcombe by the intermediate championship in 1993, and the novice championship in 2002, which lead to British Eventing reclassifying the event as the Festival of British Eventing in 2003.