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Fans ready for an equestrian spectacular as EQ Life Houghton International Horse Trials get under way

Action from the Houghton International Horse Trials.

Action from the Houghton International Horse Trials.

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Thousands of sports fans can expect an equestrian spectacle with worldwide pedigree as the Houghton International Horse Trials get under way today.

The parkland surrounding Houghton Hall will be a hive of activity as the Norfolk home of Britain’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, provides the backdrop for the competition between some of the world’s top eventers.

This year’s event is sponsored by equine magazine EQ Life in association with the Eastern Daily Press, as official media partner.

Many of the biggest names in the sport will be contesting the Eventing classes, including London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nicola Wilson, recent Badminton winner Sam Griffiths, and household names Pippa Funnell, Sir Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson.

Top showing supremo Alister Hood heads the Showing entries, with horses including Jack The Giant, ensuring top-class competition in the Norfolk Festival of Showing.

About 15,000 people are expected at the EQ Life Houghton International Horse Trials, which run until Sunday, May 25.

There will be plenty for families to enjoy, including trade stands for shoppers to browse, children’s entertainment, and top class equestrian action – from dressage, cross country and show jumping to showing and young horse classes.

And expectations are high following the success of last month’s EQ Life Burnham Market International Horse Trials which saw record crowds, with gate numbers up by more than 15pc on previous years.

The British CICO FEI Eventing Nations Cup team will be attempting to make it a hat-trick at Houghton on Saturday, having won the British leg of the international series for the last two years.

On Sunday the 2014 Askham Bryan Under 21 British National Champion will be crowned – and be awarded, for 12 months, the use of a Suzuki 250cc ATV quad bike.

For more information, see www.houghtoninternational.co.uk. For unrivalled coverage and photos throughout the event, see www.edp24.co.uk.

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