There are a number of top eventing fixtures in the UK, although due to the COVID19 Pandemic many may take place behind closed doors in 2021.
Eventing is the ultimate equestrian challenge, comprising of three phases dressage, show jumping and cross country. It can be likened to a triathlon, with horses and riders demonstrating a range of skills across the three disciplines. To compete successfully in eventing combinations must show harmony and rhythm in the dressage, balance and precision in the show jumping, and finally accuracy and bravery in the cross country phase. The combination with the lowest penalty score at the end of the event is the winner. As horses and riders move up the levels, the difficulty and technicality of the phases increases.*
The first major event of the season is Badminton held in the grounds of Badminton House in Gloucester on the 5th-9th May 2021. Badminton is just one of seven five-star events in the world, the others being Burghley, Luhmühlen in Germany, Lexington and Maryland in the United States, Adelaide in Australia and Pau in France.
The first Badminton event was held in 1949 when the 10th Duke of Beaufort decided to host an event to help British riders train for future international events.
A week after Badminton on the 14th – 16th May 2021 is Chatsworth Horse Trials which takes place in the grounds of the Duke of Devonshire’s beautiful Peak District estate. The horse trials attract many of the world’s top riders who look forward to tackling the challenging cross country course designed by Ian Stark and David Evans. The event has plenty of atmosphere making it an ideal stepping stone for horses progressing in international competition.
Houghton International incorporates the FEI Nations Cup and British Eventing National Under 21 Championships, held on the 27th – 30th May. Houghton International is set in the magnificent grounds of Houghton Hall, Norfolk, this truly is one of the most outstanding venues. Welcoming over 700 competitors, including 350 International competitors. Houghton International hosts the only British leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup, a team series where competitors from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, take on the challenge to be at the top of the table by October when the final event is held at Boekelo in Holland.
On the 10th – 13th June Bramham Horse Trials runs at the beautiful Bramham Park Estate in Yorkshire. The event always attracts a top-class field of horses and riders, as it has three four-star classes taking place and provides an excellent run for horses that are due to move up to the five star level imminently it is also seen as the unofficial trial for the British senior team. Ian Stark designs the Cross-country course which is always big and bold, with the undulating terrain that requiring a fit horse.
Burghley is described as the world's greatest five star equestrian event acknowledged globally by leading riders as their ultimate competitive goal. Burghley is a key event towards the end of the summer season on the 2nd – 5th September 2021.
Burghley is one third of the Rolex Grand Slam with Badminton and Kentucky in the United States. Any rider who can consecutively win the three biggest four-star events (the events can be won in any order, with Badminton and Kentucky in the spring and Burghley in September). The cash prize is sponsored by Rolex and the current prize find is $350,000 to the winner.
There have only been two Rolex Grand Slam winners - Pippa Funnell completed the challenge in 2003, when she won Kentucky in 2003 on Primmore’s Pride, then Badminton on Supreme Rock and Burghley on Primmore’s Pride. More recently Germany’s Michael Jung won the Rolex Grand Slam in 2015/2016, he started by winning Burghley in 2015 on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, then in the spring of 2016 won Kentucky on FischerRocana FST and Badminton on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW.
Blenheim Palace Horse Trials on the 16th – 19th September concludes the major eventing fixtures in the UK. The fixture includes the FEI accredited and internationally recognised competitions with the four star long event plus the four star short class for the eight and nine-year-old horses.
To start your eventing experience why not enjoy Eland Lodge’s British Eventing fixtures on the 17th - 18th April and 26th - 27th June 2021, the classes start from BE80 up to Novice, with many of the top British riders competing their younger horses around the challenging and undulated grounds. Eland Lodge also has a number of unaffiliated fixtures that run over the British Eventing course from 50cm up to 1m. Click here to view Eland Lodge’s full calendar of events.
*British Eventing Rules and Members Handbook