While all eyes in North America will be on the inaugural U.S. Nations Cup at Great Meadow, it’s also a big weekend elsewhere in the world as the Barbury International Horse Trials hosts the third leg of the Event Rider Masters series.
Forty horses and riders will compete, including series leader Astier Nicolas and two combinations representing North America: Tiana Coudray and Sambuca F and Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master.
- The record dressage test at Barbury was set in an Olympic year. In 2008, Lucinda Fredericks posted a 30.8 with the prolific Headley Britannia. She went on to win the competition and 36 days later she led the Olympic Games with a very similar score of 30.4. Can Olympic fever once again see records tumble?
- Dressage supremos have a strong record at Barbury. Only seven combinations have scored below 35, and all of these seven went on to finish in the top three, while four of them went on to win. Headley Britannia was one of them, and the other was Barbury legend Avebury who won here a staggering four times, three of which came from a sub-35 dressage score. Both of these horses are by the stallion Jumbo.
- The Barbury leg of the Event Rider Masters series presents the most statistically challenging cross country test. On average, just 63% of combinations jump clear, compared with Bramham (67%), Blair Castle (67%), Chatsworth (70%), Gatcombe (71%) and Blenheim (79%).
- The cross country time will be a serious factor at Barbury. Chatsworth (0.3% within time on average) is the most difficult leg in the series in this regard and produced just one clear within the time with Chris Burton and TS Jamaimo). Bramham (16%) was by far the easiest leg in the series based on past trends and it produced 11 combinations within the optimum time.
- Barbury Castle trends at 4% within the time on cross country, but in 2015 it hit an all-time high and 11% came home without time penalties. However, from 2005 to 2008 no one managed to beat the Barbury clock, and the first person ever to do so was EquiRatings co-founder Sam Watson with Horseware Bushman in 2009.
- Show jumping clear rounds are likely to be more frequent at Barbury than we have seen so far in the series. Bramham (26%), Blenheim (29%) and Chatsworth (32%) are trending as the tougher venues to attain clear rounds since 2010. Blair (36%), Gatcombe (37%) and Barbury (40%) have been the easier venues in recent years over the CIC3* tracks. So far in the ERM series, Chatsworth produced 17 clears (43%) and Bramham produced just nine (25%).
- The record finishing score appropriately belongs to Avebury. His fourth title, won last year (2015), saw him lead from start to finish on a score of 33.9, and it surpassed his own previous record of 35.2, which he set in 2013. Andrew Nicholson holds five of the best eight finishing scores on record at Barbury and will compete on Nereo this year.
- The best dressage test by some margin so far in the ERM series belongs to Kitty King and her Olympic partner Ceylor LAN with her 32.9 at Chatsworth. The best finishing score comes from the second at Bramham, where winner Alex Hua Tian finished on his dressage score of 40.1.
As a bonus from EquiRatings, don’t miss the #NicholsonNarrative, an in-depth look at Andrew’s dominant performances at Barbury over the years.