Blyth Tait, one the world’s most respected event riders, will design the novice cross-country track at this year’s St James’s Place Barbury Horse Trials (5-8 July).
The New Zealander, who was the 1996 Olympic champion and world champion in both 1990 and 1998 and who is aiming for selection for this year’s World Equestrian Games, will work alongside Capt Mark Phillips, who has designed Barbury’s cross-country courses since the event’s inception.
Gloucestershire-based Blyth is in his third year as a course-designer – he is responsible for the novice, BE100 and BE90 tracks at both Burgham and Alnwick Ford in Northumberland.
He said: “I am really excited to be involved with St James’s Place Barbury. I think that Mark Phillips is one of the best course-designers in the world and I’m looking forward to working with him and learning from him.
“Barbury is a very popular event and its novice track is one of the most significant at that level in the country. I think the art is in being able to design for a broad range of riders – the top professionals with young horses, and amateur riders for whom the novice at Barbury is a real target and achievement. I want to test, but also educate and encourage.”
He added: “Now, when I walk cross-country courses as a rider, I see things differently. It is a real learning curve, taking my riding hat off and putting my course-designer hat on – it really interests me. I haven’t been rushing my course-designing career but have spent time learning from very good people, and when I do stop riding, I hope it will be a way of staying involved with the sport internationally.”
Sponsored by St James’s Place Wealth Management, the event, spectacularly sited on the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire, is one of the highlights of the equestrian calendar. With classes running at novice, CIC2* and CIC3* level, St James’s Place Barbury attracts a huge international entry that boasts many of the world’s best horses and riders.
Event director Martyn Johnson said: “It’s great to have Blyth Tait on board at Barbury. He has huge experience of all types of cross-country courses all over the world in his extremely successful career as a rider, and has a thoughtful and intelligent approach to course-designing.”