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Leading Kiwi eventers Mark Todd, Jonathan Paget, Caroline Powell and Andrew Nicholson are among the front runners at this week’s Bramham International Horse Trials in Yorkshire, UK.
But it won’t be an roll over – more than 250 riders from 18 nations, including some of the best in the world, will compete in this prestigious event which doubles as one of the last Olympic selection competitions for many nations.
Being an Olympic year and the UK having had a decidedly wet summer, it has meant many combinations are still needing to impress selectors.
Included in the field are the likes of five-time Bramham winner and current world number one William Fox-Pitt (GBR), along with his bronze medal winning European Champs team-mates Piggy French and Nicola Wilson.
Bramham contains both a traditional long format three day event (the CCI3*) and a shorter format ‘CIC3*’, as well as a class for under 25 year old riders. The difference between the more traditional three day event and the shorter format is mainly in the cross country which while being of the same difficulty is less distance and the event can be run over anywhere between one to three days.
This weekend’s shorter format CIC3* shapes as the most significant for New Zealand selection prospects with leading Kiwi riders all running Olympic prospect horses.
Paget will be looking to repeat his win last year in the CIC3*, which was also won by Neil Spratt on Upleadon in 2009.
Paget will defend his title on Clifton Lush, Nicholson has both Nereo and Averbury, Clarke Johnstone has his world champs team bronze medal-winning horse Orient Express , Lucy Jackson has both Animator II and Kilcoltrim Ambassador, Jonelle Richards has Flintstar, Tim Price has Ringwood Sky Boy and Kate Wood goes on Easy Tiger.
New Zealand also has six combinations competing in the traditional longer format three day event - the ‘CCI3*’ - which has been won previously by Blyth Tait in 1994 aboard Aspyring, and by Nicholson on Nereo in 2009.
Powell will give her famous 19-year old grey gelding Lenamore his first run in recent weeks as well as competing on Thornfield Jones. Todd is entered aboard Quantum Leap, Nicholson has Tristar II while Lucy Jackson has Willy Do and Craig Nicolai enters Just Ironic. Lizzie Brown competes in the under 25 event with Henton Attorney General.
The 6000m cross country course has been designed by former Olympian Ian Stark, himself a previous winner of the event; organisers have allowed an extra 100-plus entries in all the classes to help riders affected by the weather disrupted UK eventing calendar.
Bramham gets underway tomorrow (Thursday UK time), with the dressage running over two days. The cross country for the longer format CCI3* is on Saturday with the shorter CIC3* cross country running on Sunday. Showjumping for the CCI3* is on Sunday, with the CIC3* showjumping phase on Saturday.
More than 50,000 spectators are expected at the event over the four days.
NOTE TO EDITORS
The difference between CCI and CIC explained....
A CCI is traditionally a three day event with each of the disciplines (dressage, cross country and showjumping) running on separate days. The cross country is between 5,700m and 6270 m.
The CIC involves the same three disciplines and while the cross country is shorter – being between 2,800m and 3,600m – it is still at a similar level of difficulty. The event can be run between one and three days, with either the cross country or showjumping being the last discipline run.