INTERNATIONAL riders including New Zealand Olympian Caroline Powell and three members of the world famous Whitaker family are among hundreds of competitors heading to Northumberland this weekend.
The Burgham Horse Trials – the biggest equestrian event the region has ever seen – is attracting UK competitors from as far afield as Chester.
And up to 10,000 spectators are expected at attend the three-day spectacle, which runs from today (Friday) until Sunday.
From farriers to company directors, riders have entered in their droves to try out the brand new 3km cross-country course built by renowned designer Douglas Weymouth and bid for a share of a £25,000 showjumping prize fund.
Highlights include the £12,000 Burgham Classic Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, alongside three British Eventing classes and the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse and Burghley Event Pony qualifiers.
In what event director Paul White describes as ‘the biggest range of competitions at a single equestrian event he has ever seen’, Burgham will also include Pony Club classes, Sporthorse GB and British Show Pony Society Showing classes, and a Para Dressage competition for disabled riders.
Aside from the sporting action, other attractions include a huge retail village, bar-restaurant, dedicated children’s play area, and on-site facilities for competitors and spectators enabling them to stay the weekend including a caravan/camping site and stabling.
High class hospitality is also available in the exclusive Members’ Premier Enclosure.
Newcastle United legend Malcolm MacDonald will start a fancy dress fun run this afternoon which seeks to raise funds for the event’s official charity partner, the Percy Hedley Foundation.
Set on a one mile stretch of the cross-country course, the fun run is aimed at all ages and entries are open right up until the day.
Other local sporting celebrities attending include members of the Newcastle Falcons rugby team, who say they will be more than happy to sign autographs for fans.
It is hoped that the showcase will attract families who haven’t previously attended an equestrian event.
Paul White said: “We’ve tried to make Burgham a truly inclusive event which offers something for everyone. As well as the experienced equestrian event followers, we also hope to see lots of families on the first weekend of the school holidays who thought they’d like to come along and see what it’s all about.”
Competitions run from 8am to 6am on each of the three days. For more information or tickets, visit www.burghamhorsetrials.co.uk