Hartpury’s NAF International Horse Trials are set for an exciting weekend of action when the event rolls around in August. That’s according to course designer Eric Winter.
Winter, who is also course designer at Badminton, has put in place some exciting plans for this year’s competition, bringing a new course builder on board as well as the introduction of an up-and-coming course designer for the one and two star events.
Winter said: “There has been a real change in the feel of the courses this year. We’ve got a new designer on board and he’s bought his own ideas and thoughts and we’ve developed some exciting plans for this year.
“We’ve definitely stepped the three star up and there’s a lot to do on it. The course gets busy early; fence four is very dramatic – two trakehners on top of a bank – and then they have one let up fence, which is quite big, and then they go to the water.”
The trials will see some of the best international eventers showcasing their skills when the competition gets underway on Wednesday, 9th August. Pippa Funnell will be leading the British charge while New Zealand duo Andrew Nicholson – a former winner at the event – and Paul Tapner are also competing.
Hartpury have spent over £100,000 on irrigation for the course to ensure that the footing is perfect for the event. This investment has allowed Hartpury to water the entire course ahead of this year’s cross-country competition.
Eric added: “We’ve had an irrigation system here for a while but it didn’t cover the whole course. We’ve updated this now and we’ll be able to cover the whole course to make sure that the footing is right.”
Competitors in the CCI* and CCI** events are in for a surprise with new course designer Angus Smales and course builder, Dom Moore’s ambitious plans.
“Early on the balance of the track really changes,” Smales said. “We’ve stuck to the original routes as there has been a ground management process in place for a while but as a designer I wanted to change to flow of the course so that it was different.”
Smales and Moore have described their cross-country courses at Hartpury this year as ‘big and bold’ and the pair have some exciting plans for continuing to develop the flow of the course over the coming years.
Moore said: “We’ve moved away from previous years and gone to lots of things which involve more turning questions and using the terrain but with big, bold fences. In the past there hasn’t been the flexibility to do this.”
“Our long term plan is to run the course in the opposite direction,” Smales added on the duo’s plans to revamp the course.
Spectators will have a unique experience at the event according to Eric Winter, who says Hartpury’s competition provides something you won’t get at many events.
“We also have some great horses here – World Championship and Olympic horses – and it’s unusual when you can sit in one spot and watch them jump from the third fence, right the way round the course,” Winter said.
“You see the story of the competition unfold in front of you, which is always an exciting thing. It’s the best of eventing when you can watch it like that.”
Tickets to the event are free for under-16s all week while everyone else can buy tickets to the must-see event here.