Invitational schooling event launches new show jumping arena

It appears that the organisers of Belsay Horse Trials really have put good money down the drain.

This was the conclusion of eight regional event riders who came to test ride the new show jumping arena, complete with its state-of-the-art sports drainage system which was installed last Autumn.

Katherine Hague from Fenrother prepared for the Belsay Horse Trials by taking part in the schooling test event. Picture by Jane Coltman.

Katherine Hague from Fenrother prepared for the Belsay Horse Trials by taking part in the schooling test event. Picture by Jane Coltman.

The schooling test event took place just six weeks before this year’s event, which will be held on Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7. Once again, it will be supported by a stellar list of companies from the region.

Local event riders Jamie Atkinson, Will Murray, Mark Jackson, Katherine Hague, Jay Ryder and Adam Gillespie – plus Scottish riders Emily Galbraith and Louise Clark – brought a couple of horses each to jump over a course of jumps built by British Showjumping and British Eventing accredited builder Keith McVittie.

British Eventing’s Jane Peters, chairman of under 18 eventing, Fran Hay-Smith, regional co-ordinator, and Rory Boswell, technical advisor and cross country course builder, were on hand to watch together with equestrian coaches and representatives from four pony clubs – Tynedale, Morpeth, South Northumberland and Percy.

The organising team at Belsay Horse Trials decided to make the huge investment in a belt and braces drainage system for the show jumping arena last summer after yet another wet winter and heavy and persistent rainfall in the run up to the 2014 event made for holding ground conditions in the show jumping phase.

After it carried out an assessment, recommendations were made by the Sports Turf Research Institute – a company which has been responsible for grass surfaces at Hickstead, Dublin Showground, Greenwich Park and Ascot Racecourse among others.

The project was carried out in two phases by D.G. Walton and Son, a leading local agricultural drainage contractor, and White Horse Contractors, specialists in the design and construction of natural and artificial sports surfaces.

Laura de Wesselow, who co-organises the event with husband Peter and Edward and Jane Pybus, was delighted with the response.

She said: “The idea of this event was to create a positive buzz about Belsay and all the money and hard work that has gone into improving the ground conditions in the show jumping arena.

“We had a fantastic day watching all the riders school their horses – it really has been a pleasure to organise.”

For more information about this year’s trials, visit www.belsayhorsetrials.co.uk