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Top names contest huge prize fund at new horse trials but entries lower than expected

Top names will line up to compete in the showcase horse trials at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight next week, but only 53 horses will start compared to the 80 which could have been accommodated.

The London Capital & Finance Osborne Horse Trials will host three open intermediate sections. Two classes of 15 horses, the Warrior Bowl and the Albert Bowl, will take place on Wednesday 25 July and one section of 23, the Victoria Bowl, will run on Thursday 26 July.

Horses have generally been allocated to classes depending on their British Eventing points, but this has not been strictly adhered to in some cases as riders’ availability also had to be taken into account.

Top British riders who will attend include Oliver Townend, Alex Bragg, Emily King, Izzy Taylor, Matt Heath, Nana Dalton and Holly Woodhead. Also riding will be Olympians Ludwig Svennerstal (Sweden), Austin O’Connor (Ireland), Andrew Hoy and Sam Griffiths (Australia).

The leading horses entered in the Victoria Bowl include Happy Times (third at both Badminton and Burghley with Sam Griffiths), Cillnabradden Evo (former British open champion with Oliver Townend), Black Tie II (Oliver’s 2014 World Equestrian Games ride) and Zagreb (recent winner of the Event Rider Masters at Jardy with Alex Bragg).

The event is the first affiliated horse trials to be run on the Isle of Wight and is designed as a showcase to take the sport to new audiences. The event is supported by British Eventing (BE) under the banner of a “special event” but is not fully affiliated because the competition will have a more condensed, spectator-friendly format.

A prize fund of more than £60,000 is on offer and it was originally planned to run four sections of 20 starters each. The entry fee is £840 per horse, which includes transport for horses to and from the Isle of Wight, entry, stabling, bedding and some hospitality for owner, groom and rider — organisers BEDE Events have taken inspiration from showjumping’s Global Champions Tour in bundling all the payments into a single fee.

Georgie Dickinson, daughter of organiser Stuart Buntine, said on his behalf:  “We had a distinct limit on what we could run here for the first year. We have got some great names entered and for us it is all about showcasing the sport to a new audience, which is the whole reason we are running this event.

“I am sure once people have been in year one they will understand the amazing hospitality on offer and see the reason for the shortened format and want to come and compete here in years to come.”

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Full report from Osborne in H&H magazine on 2 August.

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