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Record entries for Countryside Live
3:57pm Friday 4th October 2013 in Sport
A WEEKEND of equine excellence is promised at the ‘little sister’ event of the Great Yorkshire Show, Countryside Live, on Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20, at the Harrogate Showground.
Organisers, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, have announced that equine numbers have reached an all-time high, with a total of 335 entered in the competitions, beating last year’s record of 303.
A new feature this year is the North East Driving Trials, which take place in the main ring on the Saturday afternoon.
Show director, Bill Cowling, said: “Since equine classes were introduced back in 2008, the section has gone from strength to strength.
“We try to include new elements that are fun and interesting, whether or not you are knowledgeable about horses.
This year, for the first time, we are featuring the driving trials, with competitors driving their horse-drawn vehicles round various obstacles against the clock.”
The trials have attracted entries from competitors of national standing and also novices, who will compete in two rounds, culminating in a grand final.
Among the experts are Tara Wilkinson, from Shelf, Halifax, a member of the gold medal-winning British team at the 2012 World Young Drivers Championship, and Stephanie Milner, of Huggate, near York, who was crowned British national novice champion last month.
Her father, Jonny, has twice won the British rally driving championships and it will be a father /daughter team as he will be on her carriage’s back step.
Also on Saturday is the Northern Show Cross Final, providing a real test of riders’ speed and agility. A combination of show jumping and cross country, there are several sections novice, intermediate and open for juniors and seniors. It takes place in the White Rose ring.
On Sunday, the main ring will host the Ridden Heavy Horse Class, which made its debut in 2012 and had spectators flocking to watch these majestic animals being ridden around the ring.
“It is quite moving to see these traditional farm animals forging new careers as riding horses,”
said Mr Cowling.
This year’s judge, Andrew Spalding, will also ride each one, adding a new dimension to the class.
The prestigious Olympia Heritage Mountain and Moorland ridden qualifiers section will give spectators an opportunity to see the cream of Britain’s native ponies.
It is the ‘last chance saloon’ for a shot at the national title as Countryside Live provides the final opportunity to qualify for December’s Olympia.
Entries are still being taken for the Search for a Talented Show Jumper competition, sponsored by Askham Bryan College.
In sessions over the two days, up and coming riders can learn from Olympic experts, Graham and Tina Fletcher.
The indoor arena will also be packed with fun and entertainment with classes for best pony and rider combination, working hunter ponies, mountain and moorland lead rein and first ridden, coloured ridden horses and ponies, and a coloured working hunter pony class.
On Sunday afternoon there is a fancy dress competition where children and ponies try to wow the judges with their eye-catching costumes.