This weekend sees a new event on the British calendar take centre stage: Northampton’s Aston le Walls Equestrian Centre, run by former team rider turned coach and selector Nigel Taylor, has long been a stalwart part of UK-based eventers’ season plans, with schooling opportunities galore, affiliated events throughout the breadth of the season, and arena eventing in the winter, too. But now, they’re taking the next step with their own international fixture — something that’s long topped their aspirations as as a venue.
This isn’t actually the first time we’ve seen Aston host a four-star, though: during the pandemic, they first hosted an elite competition weekend, allowing professionals and team pathway riders to give their horses an outing when government guidelines allowed for just that much wiggle room. Then, when Chatsworth couldn’t run its international fixture behind closed doors in 2021, Aston stepped up to host its CCI4*-S, with appropriately challenging courses designed by Captain Mark Phillips, and in doing so, gave many horses their first chance at an FEI event since Covid first struck.
Though feedback from that event was positive, Aston’s team was no doubt disappointed not to be granted an ongoing international fixture — but once again, they’re stepping in to fill a gap and save the day. This week would ordinarily be the domain of Wiltshire’s Barbury International, but after disputes between the organisers and British Eventing over unaffiliated fixture timetabling, the organisers decided to pull it from the calendar, leaving a challenging mid-summer space in the calendar. That gap is ably filled by Aston, with its ability to host two phases on a surface, thus minimising concerns about hard ground.
So what can we expect from the next few days of competition? Well, beyond that feature CCI4*-S class, there’s also a CCI3*-S, a CCI1*, several Novice sections — including a Novice Masters class — and a 105 Pony Trials class, too. The CCI3*-S sections are already well underway, and the CCI4*-S will begin tomorrow at 8.30 am, with a full day of dressage on the roster for both Friday and Saturday. Sunday will play host to this class’s jumping phases, beginning with showjumping at 9.00 am and then on to cross country, once again designed by Captain Mark Phillips, from 11 am.
There’s a hefty line-up present in this class, and you can browse entries, check ride times, and keep an eye on live scores here.
You can also preview all the weekend’s courses via the cross-country app, with maps and virtual walks available here.
Not able to make it in to spectate, which you can do for a mere £10 on the gate? No worries: you can watch all the action as it happens from home, as ClipMyHorse.TV will be on-site to broadcast the cross-country from all three international classes.
While we won’t have boots on the ground for EN this weekend, we’ll still be bringing you news and updates as the competition unfolds. Until then: Go Eventing!