More than 700 horses and a top flight list of riders representing 16 different nations have made their way to Norfolk for this weekend’s Burnham Market International Horse Trials.
Olympic medallists, world champions and other eventing superstars are here to get the competition season off to a flying start. The action will get underway on Thursday (13) and runs through until late on Saturday afternoon.
Britain’s leading event rider Oliver Townend is out to defend his succession of wins in the Barefoot Estates sponsored trials and will certainly be giving it his best shot with four horses entered including last year’s winner Cooley Master Class and 2014 winner Black Tie II.
Oliver’s record at Burnham Market is remarkable. He has won the top level CIC3* class an astonishing nine times since 2007. Given that Burnham Market is the second leg of the Tri-Star Grand Slam with its £50,000 winner takes all bonus there is everything to play for this weekend.
However, there are plenty of riders entered who will be trying to stop Oliver in his tracks. Pippa Funnell has entered her Rio Olympic Games and previous 3* winner Billy The Biz. Fellow Rio veteran, Ceylor LAN, piloted by Kitty King, is also on form while both of Sir Mark Todd’s entries, Rio partner Leonidas II and London 2012 ride NZB Campino are capable of victory, as is Nicola Wilson’s Blair Castle 2016 winner Annie Clover.
Zara Tindall is bringing three horses to Burnham Market. She has left her Olympic silver medal horse, High Kingdom, at home but runs Fernhill Facetime, Drops of Brandy and BGS Class Affair in the Advanced or Two Star sections.
Frequent British team member Tina Cook is in with a shout in the Advanced class with either her Rio reserve Billy The Red or Star Witness. Also in the running might be Germany’s Bettina Hoy with 2016 Blenheim winner Seigneur Medicott – and Oliver Townend has three strong contenders in this class
As usual the Burnham Market event has attracted many of the top riders in the sport. Crowd favourite Mary King joins the fray, as does Piggy French and eventing’s golden couple, Tim and Jonelle Price.
This year the competition isn’t just between horses. The East Anglian Air Ambulance Charity Camel Racing takes place on Easter Saturday and should prove highly entertaining. The jockeys are busy fundraising and are looking forward to entertaining the crowds.