Olympic horseriding hopefuls to head to Rockingham Castle near Corby

Lauren Shannon  and Quality Purdey at Rockingham Castle Brigstock International Horse Trials 2013 NNL-140424-105120001
Lauren Shannon and Quality Purdey at Rockingham Castle Brigstock International Horse Trials 2013 NNL-140424-105120001

Rio Olympics hopefuls will flock to Rockingham Castle near Corby this weekend for the 2016 Rockingham International Horse Trials.

The team is putting the finishing touches to the showground and cross-country courses, ready to welcome a capacity entry of event riders from around the world, and pony club competitors from around the country.

There will be plenty of 2016 Rio Olympic hopefuls in action from May 20 to 22 – although without their potential Olympic horses – not least ex-World and European Champion Zara Tindall (nee Phillips).

There will also be British squad members William Fox-Pitt, Kitty King, Izzy Taylor and Laura Collett.

Australian representatives include three previous Badminton Horse Trials winners; Andrew Hoy, Paul Tapner and Sam Griffiths.

Andrew Hoy has already ridden at seven Olympic Games, and has four medals (three gold and one silver) to his name.

Last year’s winner of the Loomes watch, Sir Mark Todd, was part of New Zealand’s first ever Three Day Event team to contest a World Championship, and won back to back Olympic gold medals (1984 and 1988), with three further Olympic medals in his collection.

He returns this year, as does his team-mate Caroline Powell, who has ridden at two Games, London and Beijing.

Aoife Clark leads the Irish charge. She rode at London 2012, finishing seventh individually, and was then a member of the Irish team at the World Equestrian Games in 2014 where Ireland secured qualification for Rio.

Vittoria Panizzon and Giovanni Ugolotti have both represented Italy at Championships, while Giovanni’s fiancee, Canadian rider Kathryn Robinson, will be hoping that her recent double clear at Badminton has earnt her a ticket to Rio.

Riders representing Russia, USA, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Brasil, Zimbabwe and South Africa have all thrown their hats in to the ring, making this a truely international field.

However, it’s not just the eventing that has attracted exciting entries.

Last year’s Pony Club team show jumping class drew 17 teams – this year the organisers have been inundated with entries, necessitating a slight change in the rules to accommodate as many riders as possible.

Tickets for the event can be bought on the gate. For more information about everything happening at FEI Rockingham International Horse Trials visit www.rockinghamcastlehorsetrials.com.