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All about Blenheim Palace Horse Trials
The Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials are firmly established in the eventing calendar. The event has been running since 1990, attracting the world's best riders and the thousands of spectators who visit each year.
Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials is known as a '3-day event', even though the actual competition is run over four days! This is because the event is made up of three phases: dressage, cross-country and show jumping, with the dressage phase taking place over the first two days.
The start of the competition is on the Wednesday afternoon with the first official horse inspection in front of the Ground Jury and the Veterinary Commission. This is followed by dressage, cross-country and show jumping over the following four days.
There are three classes held at Blenheim over the four days of the event – the showcase CCI3*, a CIC3* for 8 & 9 year old horses and the final leg of the Event Rider Masters series. The CIC3* is for 8 and 9 year old horses and has been specifically developed for younger horses to complete the dressage test followed by show jumping then cross-country. The format for the CCI3* class, for older and more experienced horses, starts with dressage, followed by a longer and more technically demanding cross-country phase, which provides a more exacting test and finishes with the show jumping. Uniquely, the Event Rider Masters CIC3* takes place over the weekend only, with dressage on Saturday, followed by cross-country and finally the show jumping, both on Sunday.
The Ground Jury have ultimate responsibility for judging all three phases of the competition.
The Veterinary Commission are responsible for ensuring that FEI regulations are adhered to and that horses are fit and able to complete all phases of the competition.
Dressage is the first phase of the competition, in which a series of pre-set movements are judged subjectively. It takes place all day on Thursday and Friday for both the CCI3* and CIC3* for 8 & 9 year old horse classes. The CCI3* is in the main Marlborough Arena, set against the magnificent backdrop of Blenheim Palace. The CIC3* takes place in the Churchill Arena. Dressage for the Event Rider Masters CIC3* takes place on Saturday in the Marlborough Arena.
The cross-country phase is for many the most exciting part of the whole competition. Riders take on the challenge of big solid fences and the unique water complex across the River Glyme. The timed courses run around the beautiful Blenheim parkland, designed by Capability Brown and are renowed for being fast but testing.
The cross-country courses at Blenheim are designed by David Evans and built by David's team - a team which is internationally acclaimed for their course building and design skills.
The CCI3* cross-country phase runs on Saturday. The CIC3* for 8 & 9 year old horses and the Event Rider Masters CIC3* cross-country phases run on Sunday.
All show jumping takes place in the main Marlborough Arena in front of Blenheim Palace.
The CIC3* for 8 & 9 year old horses show jump on Saturday as the second part of their test (this is because it is less challenging for horses to show jump before going cross-country).
For the CCI3* class, show jumping is on Sunday in two sections. The first runs in the morning for the lower placed competitors and the top twenty five jump in reverse order in the afternoon.
The Event Rider Masters CIC3* competitors show jump on Sunday morning.
In addition to world class eventing action, there are lots of other activities on offer at the event each year. These include the Dodson & Horrell sponsored Pony Club and Riding Club team eventer challenges on the Thursday and Friday, the 100cm eventer challenge on Sunday and the eventers high jump challenge.
There are also a plethora of other displays and attractions throughout the event for all the family, including children's play areas, a food and drink hall, sports and classic car displays, and more than 200 outlets in the shopping village.