Chatsworth Attracts Olympic Hopefuls

       Emily Baldwin and Drivetime - Winner 2011            Photo: Fiona Scott-Maxwell/FEI


The original press release for Chatsworth Horse Trials (11th – 13th May) advised that the event “promises to be full of drama this year as the world’s top riders compete in one of the last major events before the Olympics with a view to securing their place in London this summer”. The drama actually began before the event when the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials was cancelled and riders from all around the world began to scramble for alternative spots to prepare for London 2012


The Horse Trials, set in the Chatsworth Park, was already a popular for many Olympic hopefuls as it provides a good preparation for the terrain of Greenwich Park whereas, as Hugh Thomas himself had said, Badminton and Greenwich were poles apart. Almost 600 riders had already entered including GB contenders Tina Cook, Mary King, Zara Phillips, William Fox-Pitt, Piggy French, Ruth Edge and Lucy Wiegersma but the numbers have now swelled.

       Sam Griffiths and Happy Times at WEG 2010

Australian rider Sam Griffiths had always planned to compete Paulank Brockagh in the World Cup at Chatsworth but his Badminton mount, Happy Times, now joins him in the expanded World Cup class which the organisers have added at the last minute to help riders out. This means that there will now be World Cup Dressage on Friday as well as all day on Saturday with the Cross Country and Show Jumping on Sunday. Along with Sam and Happy Times, the World Cup CIC 3* Section G includes Caroline Powell (NZ) on Lenamore and big names such as William Fox-Pitt on Neuf des Coeurs and Sea Cookie, Laura Collett on Rayef and Mary King on Apache Sauce.

       Clayton Fredericks and Bendigo will compete at Chatsworth                       Photo: Pauline Chevalier


The World Cup Section G2 has Australian riders Sam and Paulank Brockagh, Emma Dougall on Kelecyn Ice Age, Clayton Fredericks on Bendigo III and Catherine Burrell on Urzan as well as Mark Todd , Mary King and Andrew Nicholson.


In the CIC 3* Section I Clayton will be riding Waltersdown Don, Brook Staples will compete Ever So Clever III and Sammi McLeod will ride Kintara.  


Horse Trials director Tissie Reason said: “I doubt there’s a better opportunity to see so much Olympic class at close quarters. It’s a great opportunity to get caught up in the excitement as we build up to the Olympics, with the chance to see horses and riders that could be picking up medals in a few weeks time.”


The top riders in the World Cup will tackle a course of 23 jumps on the 4,000m course chasing the dream of Olympic selection for their country.


Olympic medallist and course designer Ian Stark said: “This year’s course is being reversed in direction to give a more gentle introduction. It also means the horses will only have to climb the main hill once. It’s important that the horses have a confidence building run in preparation for London so the tougher combinations have been softened a little, although it is still very much a World Cup Class!”


Chatsworth Horse Trials is also the only UK round of the FEI World Cup™ Eventing and is  the first competition in this year’s series of five international competitions.


As well as Dressage, Show Jumping and Cross Country, visitors will be able to see the stars of tomorrow in the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse qualifiers on Friday 11th May. The main weekend days also provide lots of fun for all the family with entertainment including the Pony Club mounted games, ferret racing, John Halsted and the Duchess of Devonshire’s own gundogs, dressage demonstrations, maypole dancing, face painting and children’s rides.


Discounted tickets are still available up until 7 May including an online exclusive offer for full weekend tickets for adult £22 and under 14s £7, under 5s free. Visit for more details.


Chatsworth house, gardens, farmyard and playground, shops and restaurants are all open as usual. For more information, visit