Thousands watch day one of horse trials

IAN CLARKE World class competitors, the chance for up and coming riders to shine and thousands of spectators lapping up perfect weather conditions.

IAN CLARKE

World class competitors, the chance for up and coming riders to shine and thousands of spectators lapping up perfect weather conditions.

They are the ingredients for a memorable three days at the Burnham Market World Cup Horse Trials.

Competition got underway at Sussex Farm today with a crowd estimated at “into four figures” and the numbers are set to swell to around 5,000 on Friday and even more on Saturday.

Ten of the world's top 15 riders are appearing at the Easco event, which is also supported by the EDP.

Among the stars is the Queen's granddaughter and European and world eventing champion Zara Phillips, who arrived today for practice and will be riding six times on Friday.

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Her first appearance this morning will be on her famous horse Toytown as she competes in the dressage.

It is the second-year that Miss Phillips, the current BBC Sports Personality of the Year, has been to the Burnham Market event.

Among the other stars appearing are three-time world champion Matt Ryan, world number two William Fox-Pitt, Olympic medallist Pippa Funnell, four-time British champion Mary King and 2005 world cup winner Clayton Fredericks.

Many inexperienced newcomers also make up the record total of 754 riders, and that gives the event such wide appeal.

Event spokesman Jane Hampson said: “It is the World Cup qualifier for show jumping and cross country. The weather is just perfect for us.”

Gates open at 9am on all days. Tickets cost £6 for adults, £4 for children and £18 for a family ticket (two adults and three children).

Dogs are welcome on leads. Call 08707 879986 to find out more.