Horse trials running during the Olympics try to avoid date clash

  • Horse trials running during or close to this summer’s Olympics have settled on the dates they will run – albeit with some reservations.

    Gatcombe’s Festival of British Eventing usually takes place in August, but will be held three weeks earlier (13-15 July) to avoid running immediately after the Olympic eventing (28-31 July).

    But this means it will run the same weekend as Brightling Park’s CIC**.

    The date change is chiefly because chairman and course-designer Mark Phillips must be at Greenwich, as chef d’equipe of the US team, when he would need to be at Gatcombe.

    “I flagged this up with BE [British Eventing] and we agreed a date change with Barbury and [GB chef d’equipe] Yogi Breisner,” said Mark.

    “Yogi has said that all his riders will be free to run at the Festival, and we’ll be giving them a good send-off.”

    But Brightling Park organiser Gardie Grissell said: “I was not pleased about the clash and tried to get a date change, but all BE offered was the following weekend, which would have clashed with Aston-le-Walls.

    It seems Gatcombe can do as it likes and we just have to lump it.”

    Mark admitted that “the pressure inevitably falls somewhere else when a big event moves”, but Gatcombe will switch back to the first week in August in 2013.

    Barbury Castle has, for the past couple of Olympics, provided the final pre-championship run for many British-based nations.

    Accordingly, Yogi Breisner has asked for it to be brought forward this year and it will run from 28 June-1 July.

    Five brave BE fixtures will run at the same time as the Olympic eventing. They are Wilton, Hopetoun International, Carlton, Thornton Watlass and Cholmondeley Castle.

    Hopetoun organiser Stuart Buntine said they long debated whether to run.

    “We’ve decided to make the most of it, with a big screen showing all the highlights and an Olympic opening ceremony party,” he said.

    Mr Buntine is also offering to take entries for all nations’ reserve horses up until the week of the competition.

    “We will lose the likes of William Fox-Pitt and Nicola Wilson, who came last year,” he said.

    “But we’re increasing the prize-money so we may get some who haven’t been before.

    “We’re so far from London [Edinburgh] that it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on our spectators.”

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (22 March 2012)

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