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Top riders set for Burnham Market international horse trials

Burnham Market Horse trials''Oliver Townend riding Samuel Thomas II
Burnham Market Horse trials''Oliver Townend riding Samuel Thomas II

Burnham Market’s annual international horse trials looks set to bring top riders from all over the country to West Norfolk over Easter weekend.

With three weeks to go, the organisers are confident the start lists will feature some star combinations and have lined up some cross-country course changes to set them a challenge.

Burnham Market’s good going and slick organisation traditionally attracts a strong entry list as riders use it as a key pipe-opener and preparation for horses heading to the famous Badminton and Kentucky four-star events.

British number one Oliver Townend, winner of the headline Three Star class at Burnham Market an astonishing ten times since 2007, is certain to bring a lorry load of horses with the aim of retaining his title.

He is on record as saying that Burnham Market is the first event of every season where he aims to be properly competitive.

Other top competitors such as British team stalwarts William Fox-Pitt and Pippa Funnell, as well as reigning Badminton champion Andrew Nicholson and his fellow compatriot Sir Mark Todd, are also expected to make the journey to Sussex Farm, so it will be a perfect place for a bit of autograph hunting for all equestrian fans.

Local competitors will also feature in some of the classes with the action running through from the Thursday to the Saturday.

Event director Alec Lochore has reversed the direction of the cross country course for the first time in the event’s history.

This will provide new and exciting questions for competitors – and for spectators, much of the action can still be seen from ‘The Mound’ in the centre of the course.

Nearby and new for this year is the Tri-Star Cross Country Pavilion, also overlooking key fence combinations.

A limited number of parking places will also be available on the cross country course for Friday and Saturday’s action. – a perfect place to have a picnic.

Aside from the horses, making a first visit to the Barefoot Retreats-sponsored event at Sussex Farm will be the Exotic Animal Encounter.

The group will introduce creatures from meerkats to skunks and snakes to coatimundi and other unusual and rare animals.

Friday and Saturday’s activities also include Fen Falconry, Razz and Auntie Pearl, have a go dog agility, a bouncy castle and bungee trampolines and a selection of trade stands.

For more information on the three-day horse trials and to book advance tickets, from £8 for an adult and £3 for a child, visit: www.musketeer.co.uk

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