Oliver’s paint-job is a real quacker!

Oliver Speck-Smith with the painted duck.
Oliver Speck-Smith with the painted duck.

A FREELANCE artist has been hailed for his quacking good job after taking on an unusual challenge at a Northumberland equestrian course.

Oliver Speck-Smith read that organisers of the Burgham Horse Trials were looking for someone to paint a 9ft duck – one of the feature fences on the new cross-country course – for this weekend’s event.

And after several days working on ‘Quackers’ Leap’ he was delighted to show off the finished bird.

The 31-year-old from West Boldon in South Tyneside, who is more used to designing album covers or restaurant menus, said: “When I saw the story about the duck, I thought it was an opportunity to get into something more creative.

“Burgham is a great place to work – out in the middle of nowhere – and, fortunately, the weather has been fine for me.”

Some of the biggest names in eventing, including Team GB Olympic hopefuls, will be among the 300 competitors taking part in the competitions. They include Nicola Wilson, Ruth Edge, Ian Stark and Matthew Wright.

The course, near Longhorsley, has been designed to international standards by former Olympic course designer Ronald Alexander and built by a team led by former top eventer Peter Wilson.

Joint Organiser David Nicholson said: “Equestrian events rely heavily on volunteers for fence judges, stewards and course runners. But for this unusual role we were looking for an artist who wanted to add something quite unique to their portfolio – and the media appeal came up trumps.

“We have a number of feature fences, also including a rugby goal, and wanted the duck to look as lifelike as a 9ft wooden duck possibly could.

“Oliver has done a great job – we’re really pleased with it.”

Gates open at 8am on Saturday and Sunday and entry costs £5. Under-16s and British Eventing members get in free.

More pictures of the duck can be found on the event’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/burgham

For more details about the competitions, visit www.burghamhorsetrials.co.uk