Designed for television: Barbury International to host part of the new Event Rider Masters three star series
Although the BBC have televised what was known as The Badminton Three-day Event for many years, as a whole the sport of eventing has kept a pretty low profile in Britain - and it is certainly not one that features regularly on television. This may be the year all that changes.
A group of enthusiasts and television producers have got together to organise a six-leg CIC*** contest called Event Rider Masters - and the Barbury International (July 9-10) is to host one of the legs.
As a television sports director once told Marlborough.News, the Barbury cross country course, held in a natural amphitheatre on the Marlborough Downs, is ideal for live coverage: "You could just about do it all on a couple of cameras!"
The format of the CIC*** competitions involved will stay mainly the same. The aim of Event Rider Masters is to package the sport specifically for television audiences with the lure for owners and riders with levels of prize money as yet unseen in the world of short-format Eventing.
Event Rider Masters - organised in partnership with EventingLive - promises new technology and reactive data to give a better experience at events and on television for spectators, riders, owners and sponsors alike. The series will include a 30-minute magazine style TV show, and a condensed 90-minute live show for each of the six legs.
The other legs of this new competition will be at Chatsworth House (May 14-15), Bramham Park (June 10-11), Gatcombe Park's Festival of British Eventing (August 6-7), Blair Castle (August 27-28) and Blenheim Palace (September 10-11).
Each of six classes will be run under International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rules and be open to 40 horse and rider combinations. The contest has a guaranteed prize fund of £350,000 - £50,000 for each class and a £50,000 end of series prize fund for top riders.
The series has the support of British Eventing, the British Equestrian Federation, the Event Horse Owners Association, the Event Riders Association - and has the approval of the FEI.
Yogi Breisner, the British Eventing team's World Class Performance Manager and Chef d’Equipe, believe the series is bound to attract new riders, owners and horses: “It will be a fantastic development for the British team and will, without doubt, help us build on and sustain our impressive Olympic track record.”
Marlborough area based New Zealand national team eventers Sir Mark Todd and Tim Price are both firm supporters of this development for their sport. As Tim Price puts it: "A sport's growth and development is key to its ultimate success. I believe the Event Rider Masters team have these values at their core. By delicately repackaging our ‘brand’ and delivering it to a world-wide audience, the benefits to our sport and to anyone involved and passionate about Eventing, will be immense.”
And Sir Mark adds: “The Event Rider Masters is without doubt the most exciting development in eventing that I’ve ever seen.”
The series organisers are planning a swift roll-out into Europe - with plans underway for worldwide coverage.
In addition to the excitement of this new attraction, Barbury will be welcoming the world's top eventers for their pre-Rio run out. There will be a fun contest between jockeys, eventers and show-jumpers in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.
The charity lunch will be in aid of Great Western Hospital's Brighter Futures appeal for its planned radio-therapy unit - with the chance to meet charity's patron, Rory Bremner. And, once again, there will be the irresistible dancing sheep.