The 2023 Bramham International Horse Trials got off to an auspicious start with a rather eventful first horse inspection, held in front of the palatial seventeenth-century home at the heart of one of North Yorkshire’s busiest estates. Though none were ultimately eliminated or withdrawn, four horses presented for the feature CCI4*-L class were sent to the holding box or asked to re-present: Angus Smales’s ESI Phoenix, Lauren Lillywhite’s Hacien, both competing for Great Britain, James Avery’s MBF Connection, representing New Zealand, and Grace Taylor’s Game Changer, the lone US combination in the field.
Both the senior CCI4*-L and the under-25 CCI4*-L, which are undertaken as totally separate sections, are presided over the same ground jury: Great Britain’s Sue Baxter, who will be President of the ground jury this week, assisted by Sweden’s Christina Klingspor and the USA’s Robert Stevenson.
Though we never see entry lists here to rival the likes of, say, Blenheim with its much more straightforward terrain and rather more introductory course, Bramham’s long-format line-ups have been further reduced this year by tougher qualification requirements brought in for the 2023 season by the FEI. That means that even without any eliminations today, we go into the competition proper with just 46 combinations in the feature CCI4*-L and a scant — though arguably very experienced — eleven competitors in the CCI4*-L for under-25s. This class, which decides the under-25 national title, tends towards a high rate of attrition, often because relatively unseasoned younger riders make it a goal event early on in their four-star careers; this year, though, several of the under-25s come in with five-star experience under their belts already, and several, including France’s Morgane Euriat, who finished sixth here last year with Baccarat d’Argonne, have mileage over this course, too.
The senior CCI4*-L is peppered with exciting horses and riders, arguably helmed by the on-form Ros Canter and ten-year-old Izilot DHI, with whom the Badminton champion picked up two CCI4*-S wins last season — including one at Bramham — and then finished sixth in ‘Isaac’s’ CCI4*-L debut at Boekelo. He’s previously been a winner at CCI2*-L (Burnham, 2020) and twice at CCI3*-L (Houghton and Blair in 2021), and will be well on track to add another victory to his collection.
They’ll have strong competition on their heels, though, from exciting entrants including Ireland’s Susie Berry, who reroutes from Badminton with Ringwood LB, Astier Nicolas and the CCI4*-L debutant Diese Cot Chat, who has historically been very swift across the country, and Piggy March and her own debutant Brookfield Cavalier Cruise, who was a winner in the CCI4*-S at Thoresby at the start of the season.
The CCI4*-S boasts a comparatively large field, with 77 combinations entered. Tomorrow sees the dressage commence from 9.30 a.m., while the CCI4*-L will kick off from 10.30 a.m. with Aaron Millar and KEC Deakon. That’ll continue on until roughly 3.03 p.m., and will be followed by the first half of the under-25 class from 4.00 p.m. until approximately 4.38 p.m. Though there isn’t any live streaming available for the first and final phases, all of Saturday’s cross-country across all three classes will be viewable via Horse&Country TV — and we’ll be bringing you full reports every day right here on EN, too, so stay tuned for all the news and stories you need from this showpiece British competition.
Until then: Go Eventing!