A new horse trials at Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, will offer a £60,000 prize-fund this summer.
Organiser Stuart Buntine — whose BEDE Events company runs several other horse trials including Osberton and Belton — is planning to run the event (25-26 July) as a showcase for eventing, with the primary aim of attracting new spectators and sponsors to the sport. Title sponsor London Capital & Finance has never sponsored eventing previously.
The event will be supported by British Eventing (BE) under the banner of being a “special event” but is not fully affiliated because the competition will have a more condensed, spectator-friendly format. The four classes will run broadly at intermediate and open intermediate level, but tweaks will include a customised three-minute dressage test. The winner of the top class, the grand prix, will take home £10,000.
“The location sold it to me and this is the most exciting opportunity I’ve had for ages,” Stuart told H&H. “Hopefully we’ll be able to deliver something which will promote the sport to a wider audience.”
Horses will perform their dressage and then showjumping on the lawns of the palazzo-style house and the cross-country track will run in front of the house with views down to Osborne Bay and the Solent. Spectators will be able to see 60-70% of the cross-country action from the house’s terraces without moving from one spot.
Stuart added that the reception from people on the Isle of Wight has been “unbelievable”, with support from the horse community through to the council.
“The leader of the Isle of Wight council made it clear that he wants the event to happen, so to let him know any problems and he’ll unblock the challenges,” he said.
BE sport operations manager Chris Farr said: “This is a great opportunity to try to condense into a bite-sized chunk the excitement of the three phases of eventing for a new audience and potentially completely new sponsors.”
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Andrew Thomson, director of title sponsor London Capital & Finance, added: “Horse trials sponsorship is an exciting new venture for us. English Heritage has generously offered access to private parts of the house for corporate entertainment which provides us with a unique setting to host our clients and develop business relationships in a way not normally possible. It should be a spectacular two days of top-class sport.”
The rooms which will be used include the Durbar Room, where Queen Victoria entertained European royalty in the later part of her reign.
Read more about Osborne Horse Trials in today’s issue of H&H (dated 25 January).