Entries open as autumn show and South of England International Horse Trials return

Autumn Show & International Horse Trials (Photo: Submitted)
Autumn Show & International Horse Trials (Photo: Submitted)

The Autumn Show & Game Fair and the South of England International Horse Trials are again joining forces this year to create a much-awaited event, following great success in 2022.

Taking place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th September 2023, at the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex, this event promises to be an exhilarating showcase of top-class equestrian talent and a celebration of rural life.

The South of England International CCI*** and CCI** Horse Trials, affiliated with the FEI, are at the heart of this prestigious event. This two-day spectacle will attract top international riders who will demonstrate their skills across the showjumping, dressage, and cross-country phases. Riders can enter the trials via www.southofenglandhorsetrials.co.uk.

“We are thrilled to present the 16th edition of the South of England International Horse Trials,ˮ said Tim Nolan, co-organiser of the event alongside his mother, Jenny Nolan, and brother to renowned equestrian sportswoman Pippa Funnell MBE who also often helps out at the event, in between taking part in the competition “That’s just the international element, though - in fact, 2023 marks the 49th anniversary of the South of England Horse Trials at Ardingly, making it one of the oldest horse trials in the country!

“By combining the trials with the prestigious Autumn Show & Game Fair from the South of England Agricultural Society, we have propelled this event to a whole new level. With crowds of around 18,000 people, compared to a typical trials event with 2,000 attendees, it provides a fantastic opportunity for both horse and rider to compete at an international event and perhaps go on and qualify for the next level CCI****. It exposes them to the nerves and sensory overload that comes from competing at a large-scale event. Furthermore, from a spectator’s perspective, they will have the incredible opportunity to witness some of the finest athletes in the sport compete for victory, creating an atmosphere charged with excitement and passion.ˮ

With an expected 550 entries from over 14 countries, this year's competition promises to be a true showcase of talent. Previous competitors include renowned names such as Tim and Jonelle Price, William Fox-Pitt, Zara Tindall, Tom McEwen, and Gemma Stevens, as well as local favourites like Tom Jackson, Tom Crisp, and Francis Whittington.

The Cross-Country course, which underwent a complete makeover last year, has been created by renowned designer Adrian Ditcham, in collaboration with course builder Scott Brickell, both part of the build team for the 2012 Olympic course at Greenwich Park. The showjumping course has been meticulously created by British Showjumping designer John Farrell, ensuring a challenging and visually stunning experience for both riders and spectators.

However, the Autumn Show & International Horse Trials is not just about equine excellence. It celebrates rural life, the harvest, and the shared interests of canine and equestrian enthusiasts. Attendees can immerse themselves in a captivating lineup of countryside pursuits, displays, and interactive activities throughout the weekend - from fly fishing and archery, to axe throwing, laser clay shooting, and more.

The event will feature captivating displays of sheep shearing and birds of prey, a dedicated zone showcasing vintage agricultural vehicles, and a Scammell rally. Additionally, the Autumn Show & International Horse Trials will honour the harvest season with competitions and showcases from local Women's Institutes and Young Farmer's Clubs, the South of England Honey Show, and traditional horticulture competitions in vegetables, fruits, flowers, and flower arranging.

For dog enthusiasts, there will be an array of attractions, including terrier racing, impressive displays by the Sussex Longdog Association, rare breed and working gundogs. Dog owners will even have the chance to participate in scurries with their furry companions, showcasing the incredible bond between humans and their canine partners.

The Autumn Show & International Horse Trials caters to visitors of all ages, with various family-friendly activities, including an activity trail, an animal barn featuring farm animals, a funfair, and more. Food lovers will delight in the delectable offerings from different stalls, and shopping enthusiasts will find fantastic opportunities to explore.

Tickets are available from www.seas.org.uk and cost £13.05 for adults and £11.25 for senior citizens/students (inclusive of a 10% advance discount until 15.9.23). Under 16s go free (suggested donation of £2 for children aged 5-15).