New organisers step in to save ‘much loved’ horse trials

  • A popular grass roots British Eventing (BE) event is returning next year under new management.

    Stafford Horse Trials is back on the 2016 BE eventing calendar with new organisers James and Vicky Plant.

    In June organiser Amy Dixon announced that she was stepping down after 10 years of running the event, due to health reasons, and that the fences would be sold off.

    Since it began in 2005, the event has grown hugely and now welcomes around 800 combinations at each of its two events a year.

    But now the event has been reinstated.

    The Plants have built more cross-country fences and the landowner, Richard Williams, has laid new drainage around the water complex to improve the going.

    James is a gold level course-builder who has built courses for the Stafford event since it started.

    His wife Vicky has also been involved with Stafford since the launch carrying out roles from chief steward to assistant organiser.

    James’s mother Janet will be designing the course after a period of absence following a battle with cancer.

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    “This is a park that Janet knows well and we look forward to seeing how she will incorporate the new fences, many of which have already been designed and built,” said Vicky.

    “Stafford has always been a well-known event and many riders were extremely disappointed when it stopped. We are looking forward to working with Richard Williams to secure the future of this popular event,” Vicky told H&H.

    BE chief executive David Holmes said: “The number of riders competing at the lower levels of the sport is dramatically rising every year so it is wonderful to share the news that a much loved event is back in the calendar and being run by such a welcoming and well organised team.”

    The provisional dates for Stafford in 2016 are 18-20 March and 15-17 July. There are BE80(T), BE90 and BE100 classes over the three days.

    The new website (www.staffordht.co.uk) will be launched next week.

    The Plant family run other BE events at Weston Park and Brand Hall in Shropshire.

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