Burghley made easier

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The Independent Online

A directive from the International Equestrian Federation, which was issued in the wake of five rider fatalities in horse trials last year, has resulted in an easier course being built for the Burghley Pedigree Horse Trials, which begin on 31 August.

A directive from the International Equestrian Federation, which was issued in the wake of five rider fatalities in horse trials last year, has resulted in an easier course being built for the Burghley Pedigree Horse Trials, which begin on 31 August.

But Captain Mark Phillips, who is course designer for the 12th year, has nevertheless set a serious test before he hands over to Germany's Wolfgang Feld, who will be in charge of the cross-country fences next year.

Though the Trout Hatchery fences are again likely to be among the more influential, the Dinosaur Eggs in the Arena (fence six) are probably the most original. Beautifully sculptured out of cedarwood by Martyn Barratt, the "eggs" provide an entirely new shape to a cross-country obstacle.

Burghley regularly provides a substantial sum to the British Horse Trials Association's central funds (last year it was more than £200,000) but this could be a more difficult year with pre-show sales down by 15 per cent. "It's been difficult to sell an event in a year when the sport has done very little to promote itself," Bill Henson, the Director of Burghley, said.

This year's event is expected to be Mark Todd's last competition in England, where he has been based for more than 20 years. Immediately after Burghley the New Zealander leaves for Sydney, where he will attempt to win his third Olympic gold before retiring.

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