Twelve countries are competing this year and Mary Thomson defends her title against talents such as Virginia Leng, Ian Stark and the New Zealander, Blyth Tait. The senior competition opens in the main arena at 9am with the dressage, spread over the Friday and Saturday mornings. The arena has limited free seating and spectators who wish to sit are advised to arrive early. On Sunday, show jumping starts at 9.30am and the cross-country section at 10.30am.
Spectators can take time off from the dressage to inspect the cross-country course, designed by Capt Mark Phillips, on the Friday and Saturday. Walking the course, or part of it, makes you appreciate what horse and rider are up against. On Sunday, visitors can station themselves at any of the 30 fences, seven of which are new this year. Try the eye-catching fence No 8, named 'the Step-up to Breitling', where the horses climb banking and jump on to an enormous clock face design.
For spectators wishing to stay the weekend, the horse trials office can provide a list of hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation in the area.
MacConnal-Mason Gallery British Open Horse Trials Championships, Gatcombe Park, Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, 21-23 August. For information, telephone 0454 218272.
Gatcombe Park is five miles south-east of Stroud off the A419 and is signposted from junction 15, M4 and junction 13, M5.
Admission: Friday: pounds 1 pedestrians, pounds 5 car (up to six occupants). Saturday: pounds 3, pounds 12. Sunday: pounds 3, pounds 18. Three-day season ticket for cars pounds 28.