Five of the UK’s top eventers, who completed Badminton 2015, head to local horse trials
With just a few days to go, last minute preparations are well underway for this year’s Belsay Horse Trials, sponsored by Barbour. Entries are looking extremely strong and organisers are delighted with the calibre of riders competing, five of whom rode at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials in early May.
Olympic Silver Medallist, Nicola Wilson, heads the list and brings 8 horses to compete over two days at Belsay this year, including Ngong Hills which she rides in the Open Intermediate class on Saturday 6th June. Dutch Oympic team rider Andrew Heffernan is making the four hour journey from his base at Somerford Park Farm in Cheshire, bringing two horses to compete: Lawless Lil in the Intermediate and Pewit Setimo in the Novice Regional Final.
Three other 2015 Badminton riders, Scotland’s Louisa Milne-Home, UK Nation’s Cup team member Paul Sims and former young rider Gold medal winner Ben Hobday are also heading to Belsay this year. Louisa brings three horses and both Paul and Ben each bring four horses. Hobday, who like Andrew Heffernan is based at Somerford Park, is now a familiar face in Northumberland as his girlfriend is Emma Carmichael, whose parents Ian and Elaine run Todburn Equestrian Centre at Longhorsley. Emma will also compete at Belsay, in the Open Intermediate class with her horse Cooley Lucky Strike.
Riders and visitors will notice many changes and improvements at Belsay this year – chiefly the creation of the new Bond Dickinson Show Jumping Arena. Following very wet weather in the run up to the first two Belsay horse trials, which made for holding conditions in the show jumping phase, organisers invested significant sums in a state of the art Sports Drainage System. Eight top regional event riders tried out the new surface at the end of April and were full of praise for it.
There are also some exciting changes to the Cross Country courses at Belsay for 2015. The Intermediate and Novice tracks now have longer loops at the beginning, enabling horses and riders to get into a good rhythm before tackling some of the more difficult questions on the course. While the BE90 and BE100 tracks this year set off in a different direction towards the lorry park.
Another major addition at Belsay this year is the introduction of a Live Scoring System. Results from Dressage, Show Jumping and Cross Country will be fed in ‘live’ to a computer system which will then be beamed to television screens in the Public Scores Tent and the Corporate Hospitality Tent.
Belsay is not just about horses either. There are a host of different family attractions on offer this year including a Climbing Wall, Pony Rides, Archery and Turbo Venture Armoured Vehicles. There is also a wide range of food experiences on offer from traditional burgers and chips to paninis, pizzas and crepes, or icecreams and sweet stalls. There is even an artisan bakery and a speciality German food seller!
Belsay always has a good variety of trade stands and this year is no different with over 40 in attenance. From Benfield cards to White Horse Property, Queen Margarets and Mowden Hall Schools, Outdoor Clothing to upmarket tweed and leather goods, jewellery, craft, Bling for ponies, children and adults – there is something for everyone.
Global British lifestyle brand Barbour, which has a strong connection to the equestrian world since its Chairman, Dame Margaret Barbour created the iconic Bedale wax jacket specifically with Equestrian pursuits in mind, will be sponsoring the event for the second year running, and has launched the best-dressed attendee competition in celebration of the partnership.
Barbour’s photographer will be on the hunt for the best Barbour-clad attendees on the opening day of the event on Saturday 6th June, snapping both competitors and spectators alike. The photographs will then be posted on the brand’s ‘Barbour People’ Tumblr page, where visitors to the site will be able to share and like their favourite looks from the day. The attendee whose photograph receives the most likes and shares on the Barbour People page will win a full outfit from Barbour’s new Equestrian Collection – a collection which combines both functionality and style, perfect for those enjoy the countryside lifestyle that’s at the very heart of the brand.
Sue Newton, Barbour’s Global PR and Sponsorship Manager, commented, ‘We’re delighted to be able to support such a special event in the region – both Barbour and Belsay have a long-standing connection with all things Equestrian, making this the perfect partnership. The Barbour People competition gives us the opportunity to celebrate the many ways that people wear and enjoy Barbour, whilst giving one lucky person the chance to walk away with a complete Equestrian ensemble.’
Barbour and Bond Dickinson lead a host of top company names sponsoring Belsay Horse Trials once again. Others include UBS, Ryecroft Glenton, Cussins Homes, Benfield, Living North, Lycetts, Activ – Hello Technology, Gibson & Co, Brewin Dolphin, Sanlam Private Wealth, Go As you Please, Land Factor, Rural Solutions, Hutchinsons Environmental Solutions, The Tilery Equestrian Centre, Gaisford Fencing and Thomas Miller Auctioneers.
Laura de Wesselow, organiser of Belsay Horse Trials, commented: ‘We’re really looking forward to hosting some excellent horses and riders at the weekend. There is so much going on here over the two days of the event and we hope everyone will come along and enjoy themselves.’