After over twenty-five years since the inaugural horse trials at Highclere Castle, it will sadly no longer be a fixture in the British Eventing calendar.
While Highclere as a venue will not exist, the team, existing title sponsors KBIS British Equestrian Insurance and over forty eight of the event’s cross country fences will be moving to an exciting new location, in time for this years August bank holiday fixture, 25th – 27th August.
The move has come about after the Highclere Estate felt that they could no longer accommodate the trials, with other events and commitments at the Castle taking precedence. Highclere was, for many, a one day event highlight in the calendar but the new site, part of the Duke of Wellington’s Estate, at Stratfield Saye, promises to offer the same unique eventing experience which Highclere did so well.
Highclere organiser Guy Prest commented on the move ‘ We are delighted to be working with Wellington Riding and Stratfield Saye Estate, they already have vast experience in holding equestrian events and their skill set and knowledge will be of huge benefit. Having such an established centre on board can only secure the event’s future. We are extremely grateful to everyone who supported the event at Highclere, whether as a rider, spectator or volunteer and very much hope they continue to be a part of the event at its new venue.’
The estate has over 7000 acres of undulating land, and the event itself will take place over the grounds at Highfield Farm, Heckfield, and offers plenty of scope for course designer, Eric Winter and course builder Adrian Ditcham. Commented Eric of the new venue ‘It is really exciting to be designing three completely new courses on this lovely old pasture. This is a natural piece of ground to build a course on as it has plenty of gently rolling hills with lots of dips and hollows in which to create some exciting new features. We are just about to start the groundwork now for the new banks and ditches and of course the water. It’s looking great.’
David Sheerin, chief coach at Wellington Riding, added ‘ Wellington Riding is very pleased to be inheriting this prestigious horse trials. As the largest equestrian centre of its kind in the UK, we feel the diversity of our business will link well to an event of this type. We started 30 years ago and in the early days ran ‘Heckfield Horse Trials’, so it is great to be back involved with the sport again. ’
The event will now be known as the KBIS Wellington Horse Trials, and will see the current organisers working together with the experienced team at Wellington Riding to bring the new event to fruition and to the standard with which Highclere was renown. Title sponsors KBIS British Equestrian Insurance, who were involved with the event at Highclere over the past three years, added they will be giving the new event their full support and are looking forward to working with the team at Wellington.
The event will continue to run classes at BE100, Intermediate and Advanced level.
Further details of the new event will soon be available on www.wellington-riding.co.uk and can also be found on www.kbis.co.uk.
Picture: Richard Munckton