Onwards and upwards for local horse trials

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Organisers of the Borders’ largest horse trials have raised the bar this year in a bid to put the Kelso event on the international map.

Celebrating their 21st birthday this weekend Floors Castle Horse Trials are introducing an array of new classes with local event rider Ian Stark as course designer for the higher level sections.

Stark represented Great Britain in five Olympics, was European Champion in 1991 and won Badminton Horse Trials three times. He is now a course designer at the top of his game – in demand across the world, he designs at Chatsworth International Horse Trials, Bramham International Three Day Event and Hopetoun International Horse Trials, to name but a few.

Rather than fall by the wayside like so many other Scottish events, Floors is pushing forward with new ventures – including a new BE90 class for grass roots competitors, a new CIC* class for mid-level competitors seeking International qualifications and a pioneering Targeted CN** class which will offer higher level combinations a chance to qualify for some high powered events across Europe later in the eventing calendar. In addition organisers have introduced a Burghley Young Event Horse Class as a showcase for young equine talent.

Organiser Jamie Innes told TheSouthern: “Eventing in Scotland has lost too many fixtures this year and we want Floors Castle Horse Trials to be a shining light for eventing in the North.

“We may have been running for 21 years, but we will keep trying new things to keep the event fresh and moving forward. The introduction of Ian Stark as designer of our new International Classes this year is a massive coup and we hope to attract more well-known riders from across the UK as a result. Our competitor numbers should exceed 500 for the first time this year, and, with the plans we have in place for 2014 and beyond, this is just the beginning.

“The end of Thirlestane Horse Trials four years ago left a huge gap in the Borders’ sporting calendar – Floors Horse Trials is on the way to stepping into those big shoes, and it is a very exciting time for everyone involved.”

The Horse Trials, which run over the glorious parkland in front of Floors Castle, are on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors will not only be treated to an array of equestrian spectacles but they can also enjoy a walk around the parkland and browse the trade stand and refreshment area. Eventing fans might also enjoy a careful walk round the lorry park with their autograph book, as top riders such as Wills Oakden, Olivia Haddow, Nicola Wilson and Jedburgh rider Emily Galbraith are regular competitors at the event which is held by kind permission of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe.

Mr Innes credits the success and longevity of the event to the wonderful setting, the enthusiasm of the organising committee and the loyalty of the event sponsors.

“In the current economic climate it is becoming increasingly difficult to fund events such as Floors Castle Horse Trials. I’d like to thank each and every one of our sponsors and members for their continued support.”

Floors Castle Horse Trials will this year be running in support of the Great North Air Ambulance.