A decade of designing for Stark at Bramham

With just a few days to go before the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials (6 – 9 June) gets underway we take a look at this year’s cross country course. This year, course designer Ian Stark marks a decade in charge of designing at Bramham.

David Evans brings Stark’s vision to reality as builder with a cracking course which will provide a perfect test. Around 180 of the world’s leading combinations will tackle the challenge set by Stark, himself a former Bramham winner.

The course starts as it has done for a few years now at the highest point of the park, above the stables. Fence one, the Farmstar Flower Bed, and a right-handed run to the Generator Power RollTop at two get the horses opened up before a downhill run to the first combination,Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Conesand with its bright strawberry and mint choc chip colours a few horses will take a second look.

A good gallop to The Questionat four features a hidden bending line so a balanced approach or a run out at the second element is likely. The galloping Land Rover Tablefence at five leads to one of the toughest questions, the Equi-Trek Round Housewhere a horse and riders boldness and communication skills are put to the test. A lovely gallop through the park only interrupted by the Nidd Steel Buildings Wood Pile at seven and brings riders over Lord Bingley’s Walk to the new Woodheads Seeds Viewfence (eight), sited after a climb means riders must take time to gather their horses for the correct canter on the approach.

A serene canter through the peace of the wood brings the new Powa Services Wooded Ditchto exit which should keep the horses confident ahead of getting their feet wet for the first time at ten, the SureGrow Kidney Pondswhich comprises three elements.

Ian’s favourite jump, the Joules Leap of Faith should give a feel of flying going as the riders head back into the main park towards the young group of trees to jump ‘The Spinney’ where again accuracy is key. The Harringtons Dog Kennelsgives a short breather before the double of white gates, the Bramham Park Fencesat 15 a and b, the second of which has a related downhill approach.

At 16, the BETA Either Oroption leads the horses down into the front park and the narrow, airy Bedsteadtakes them to the main Womble Bond Dickinson Water at 17 where a large crowd will always gather in the hope of seeing a dunking.

Up to the Speedi-Beet Double Feat with a superb view of the house has a slightly changed line this year. From here, the horses will feel homeward bound but there’s no time to relax, the infamous Carter Jonas Sun and Moontakes you up the hill to the KBIS Logand a further last effort to climb towards the Land Rover Above and Beyond, the final accuracy test at22 before the Finaleseat is the welcome sight to bring riders and horses home after just over 10 minutes and 30 seconds of galloping and jumping.

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