Chatsworth Horse Trials being so close to Badminton in the calendar, makes it near impossible for me to visit or compete at. The ill-fated event in 2012, that was cancelled due rain-saoked ground like many that spring, is the closest I’ve come to going, until this year.
Despite being one of the most popular country estates, I’ve never visited Chatsworth for any reason, but it really is breath-taking, and just as big and ostentatious as Blenheim.
The Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials, run Novice & Advanced classes with courses designed by Ian Stark, which combined with the terrain, makes these courses tough to ride [and walk] – get fit or go home!
Like many of these grand stately homes, the parklands are scattered with all manner of even grander ‘follies’, and at Chatsworth, “Queen Mary’s Bower”, a raised garden that looks like a mini castle with a moat, is used as part of the course. This provides for some fabulous photographs, especially as it’s early in the course.
Chatsworth is sat alongside the river Derwent, with steep hills ever side, and as the cross country course winds it way up the hill along side the house you get some amazing views across the valley. Half way through the course, and half way up the hill there is even a water fence, which must give you an amazing feeling as you approach downhill with open views across the valley.
I really liked the Trekehner fences that had been set into the hillside, one under some trees and the other with open views across the park as popped over them. Everything about these courses is ‘meaty’, attracting many of the top advanced riders both as a destination event and as a prep for the three-day-events coming up in June.
It almost make you wonder why Chatsworth doesn’t run a CCI*** event itself.
Although much of the cross country course looked sparse with spectators, the place was packed, and the main arena, surrounded by all manner of shopping and eateries, was buzzing. I really liked the way the tradestand area is laid out, and my only complaint from Chatsworth would be I didn’t find a decent cup of coffee all day, and after 4 wasted attempts stuck to drinking water.
The people who were out for a day’s picnic though, were doing it in style. I spotted several groups who had even set up tables with a full spread beside the course, next to one of the fences.
As you might expect from a course like this, there were penalties and eliminations being accrued all over the course, but nothing you could single out, although I did spot a few the ‘stickpile corners’ that were having a good go at running out.
All-in-all, Chatsworth has more than lived up to my expectations and anticipation, and next time I think I’d take the children and make a weekend of it.
You can probably find event reports in all the usual places online, and here are the results:
I’ll leave you with a few more of my photos: