Burgham team plot the right course

AN exciting three-day programme has been unveiled for a major horse festival, as organisers aim to transform it into one of the region’s flagship sporting events.

The action-packed schedule for the Burgham Horse Trials includes a range of competitions and disciplines, while a cross-country course is being created by international course builder Douglas Weymouth.

Highlights of the equine showcase, to be staged at Burgham Park, near Felton, between Friday, July 22, and Sunday, July 24, this year, include the Burghley Dubarry Young Event Horse Qualifiers on the opening day, British eventing and British showjumping on the Saturday, before the £12,000 Burgham Classic Grand Prix on day three.

The organising team behind the event – which will also feature a retail village – includes professional riders Lindsay Aspden, Ben Hobday, James Sommerville, Jolyse Clancey and Martyn Johnson.

Major efforts are also being made to consult with the wider equestrian community, including the launch of a new interactive web forum on the event website.

Event director Paul White, national secretary of the British Eventing Organisers Association and also organiser of Skipton Horse Trials in North Yorkshire, said: “We already have 650 fans on Facebook and members on our new web forum asking us lots of questions about the competitions taking place, volunteering opportunities and generally voicing just how much they are looking forward to Burgham 2011.

“With a full schedule of eventing and showjumping, as well as all the other competitions, on-site accommodation and stabling, a huge retail village and a celebration party planned, we aim to create a fun festival atmosphere for everyone.”

Affordable three-day family ticket deals and a caravan/camping site are being offered to encourage competitors and spectators alike to come and stay for the whole weekend.

Plans for the high-profile event were revealed to an audience of 60 delegates at Northumberland County Council’s inaugural equine conference at Linden Hall last Wednesday, which included representatives from British Eventing, British Showjumping, the British Horse Society, Kirkley Hall, local stables and riding schools, veterinary surgeons and farriers.

Other speakers included Marcus Clinton, the assistant principal of Northumberland College, who gave an update on the Kirkley Hall campus and Wilma Lister and Tracie Thompson from the Pegasus Centre who talked about the Turnabout Pegasus Project for children and young people with behavioural problems.

Rosemary Mould from Alnorthumbria Veterinary Practice talked about a new veterinary hospital that is being developed in Morpeth.

Burgham Horse Trials Ltd was established to take over the management of the annual sporting event by prominent regional businessmen Sunil Mehra and Semore Kurdi, whose sporting interests in the region also include an equestrian centre at South Dissington near Ponteland.

Competition entry forms and reduced price advance spectator tickets will be available in April.

The full draft event schedule can be found at www.burghamhorsetrials.co.uk and the new interactive equine forum at www.burghamhorsetrials.co.uk/forum