A POPULAR equestrian event will have a new home from next year.
The Belsay Horse Trials, formerly known as the Hexham Horse Trials, will take place on Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2, in the Grade I-listed parkland that surrounds Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens.
Organisers are hoping that the cross-country, dressage and show-jumping action will attract big crowds at its new venue.
Edward and Jane Pybus will be bringing their experience of the Hexham event, which they ran with Bobby and Sarah Charlton at The Linnels for 25 years, together with support from much of the original organising committee.
“The beautiful parkland surrounding the 14th-century castle at Belsay is absolutely perfect for a horse trials event and we are very grateful to the trustees of the Belsay Charitable Trust, which maintains the parkland, for allowing us to use this historic venue,” said Mr Pybus.
“There is already a lot of excitement among competitors about coming to Belsay next year and we hope to build a really exciting event here, which will also attract a large number of spectators.”
The Pybuses are organising the Belsay Horse Trials with Peter and Laura de Wesselow, who live in the village.
Mrs de Wesselow, who represents the current generation of the Middleton family that have resided at Belsay for more than 800 years, said: “Belsay has a wonderful equestrian heritage.
“My family bred and trained racehorses here in the 18th and 19th centuries and even won the St Leger at Doncaster in 1859 with a horse called Gamester, so it is very exciting that we are now bringing eventing to Belsay.”
International course designer Ronald Alexander has designed the BE90, BE100 and Novice sections for 2013, as well as the infrastructure for the Intermediate section that will commence in 2014. Work is about to start on the course, which is being built by experienced BE-accredited builder Peter Wilson.
English Heritage, which manages the hall, castle and gardens, is fully supportive and site manager Kate Anceau said staff are already planning on how the attraction can complement the event.