Ssangyong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials: World’s best are ready to go
The stage is set this week for the most exciting running of the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials to date (19-22 September).
All of the British eventing scene’s top riders, plus many from round the world, are preparing to tackle one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular horse trials, where the newly launched SsangYong Korando SUV will also star, in the unparalleled surroundings of the Blenheim Palace estate in Oxfordshire.
Among the superstar competitors at SsangYong Blenheim Palace will be all four members of Britain’s silver medal-winning team at the recent European Championships – Oliver Townend, Badminton winner Piggy French, Burghley winner Pippa Funnell, whose record in the feature CCI4*-L class is second to none, and Tina Cook.
It is 14 years since Zara Tindall won the European Championships on Toytown when they were held at Blenheim, and she returns this year with two rides, Class Affair and Watkins.
World number one Tim Price and his fellow New Zealander, dual Blenheim winner Andrew Nicholson, have two rides apiece, as does Australian Olympic gold medallist Andrew Hoy.
The overseas challenge includes strong squads from France – including Astier Nicolas, winner of team gold and individual silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics – and the USA. The Japanese squad, who are utterly focused on success at Tokyo 2020, will be out in force.
And there will be a great deal of local support for the incredibly competitive Bicester-based Izzy Taylor, a SsangYong Blenheim Palace winner in 2017, Gloucestershire’s Laura Collett, who took the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses, Britain’s premier young horse class, at Blenheim in 2018.
Other famous names competing at Blenheim this week include brilliant Brits William Fox-Pitt, Gemma Tattersall and Harry Meade.
In all, 15 nations will be represented at SsangYong Blenheim Palace this week, including the Czech Republic, Spain and Denmark, as well as the more traditional eventing nations such as Canada, Italy, Ireland and Germany.
Event Director Mandy Hervieu said: “I think this is the highest-class field we have seen at SsangYong Blenheim Palace for years. The weather forecast is excellent and the event site looks amazing.
“This is an event with a very special atmosphere, and we are continually trying improve our visitors’ experience of their day and what we can offer them alongside the top-class sport. There is lots to do for families, great shopping, tasty food and all sorts of entertainment.”
As well as the feature CCI4* classes and a host of competitions for amateur riders, SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials features excellent, carefully selected, shopping opportunities. There is a full and varied programme in the Attractions Arena on Saturday and Sunday, superb children’s entertainment and great food, ranging from outlets offering locally produced to a range of dining packages. Visit www.blenheimhorse.co.uk to book tickets and for further information.
Photo credit Adam Fanthorpe