Course-designers set a challenge at The Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials
Friday 15 – Sunday 17 May 2015

Designers Ian Stark and David Evans have been putting the finishing touches to their cross-country courses for the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials in the Chatsworth Park, next month.

Ian is responsible for the course for the showpiece international three-star Dodson & Horrell challenge, which is ridden on the Sunday of the event. Hugely respected by riders for the imposing yet inviting style of his courses, they will find that Ian has made a couple of concessions this time, but without reducing the overall adrenalin-pumping feel of the track.

An early corner obstacle that caused head-scratching last year has been removed, but riders will find the question at the subsequent feature fence, Queen Mary’s Bower, no less demanding; crowds traditionally gather around this landmark feature of the park in eager anticipation of horses and riders tackling the big drop into the water and splashing through a double of brush fences.

Another popular feature obstacle, the Ice Pond, also has a different approach; the daunting downhill approach has been reduced, but the line through it will be more technical. Riders will find the uphill climb to the top of the park less taxing, but a spectacular bounce of castle fences will still be waiting for them at the top. After that, it’s downhill to the finish, but riders shouldn’t relax too much; Ian has created some new fences to slow them down and keep them thinking on the gallop home.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this year’s course is easier, because it’s definitely still challenging, but it’s perhaps more horse-friendly,” says Ian, who himself won the international class back in 1999 on the Duchess of Devonshire’s horse, Stanwick Ghost.
“Riding a clear round at Chatsworth gives competitors a sense of achievement because the terrain is testing and the whole backdrop of the house and park gives the event such a big-time atmosphere.”

Ian is also designing the course at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle in the autumn. “It’s quite similar terrain there and I’m anticipating that the combination of that and the same designer will bring more nationalities to Chatsworth, such as French, German, Irish and Swedish riders, to get a feel of what I’m doing.”
David Evans will also have an international field to contend with in the one-star classes on Saturday when a group of up-and-coming French riders arrive at Chatsworth as part of a cultural programme.

“My aim is to provide a good introduction to international level and a proper education for young horses and riders,” says David. “It’s always pleasing to see young riders make a go of it, as they did last year, and the busy backdrop of the flags, tradestands and crowds gives an international feel that they might not have experienced before.”

The Dodson & Horrell International Horse Trials provides two full days of thrilling cross-country action, on Saturday and Sunday, which will feature many of the world’s leading riders, plus a feast of family entertainment and shopping. There’s the British Scurry and Driving Trials; Pony Club Mounted Games and Falconry displays. Dog lovers are in for a treat with the gundog displays, have-a-go dog agility, dog show and hound parade.

The event has lots for children to enjoy from meeting the Chatsworth Farmyard animals to Punch and Judy shows; face painting; Mini Land Rovers; bouncy castle and giant slide.
Tickets start at £10 for adults and £4.50 for children aged five and over; for more information, visit

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