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Stars Head To Barbury Castle
Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK
Photo: Lucy Griffiths
Rodney Powell and Liquid Ice at the 2008 Barbury International Horse Trials
The competition for the prestigious Barbury International CIC*** title is hotting up to be one of the strongest to date. While last year's event brought potential Olympians from the four corners of the globe, this year medallists at Olympic, World and European level will do battle over July 10 - 12. Britain's Olympic Bronze Medal quintet of William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Sharon Hunt, Daisy Dick and Kristina Cook are all entered in the event's showcase class, the CIC*** worth £4000 to the winner, along with riders from a further nine countries - including reigning World Champion Zara Phillips, New Zealand's "man on a mission" Andrew Nicholson who's been almost unbeatable at this level this season, China's rising star Alex Hua Tian, Aussie stars Clayton Fredericks, Paul Tapner, Bill Levett and Sam Griffiths as well as a large Irish contingent including locally based Elizabeth Power.

Running in association with St James's Wealth Management, the competition encompasses some seven classes across the levels with over 620 horses from a staggering 18 countries entered. Novice horses and riders will get the chance to compete in Barbury's unique atmosphere on Saturday while the International sections, CIC *** and ** will take place from Thursday until Sunday. Over the weekend, Barbury's connection to the racing industry is displayed in the Retraining of Racehorses Eventing Championship for horses who have raced with a first prize of £1500.

Picking a potential winner in the CIC*** competition is no easy task as the entry is so strong! Barbury's inaugural winner back in 2005, William Fox-Pitt has two strong contenders in Idalgo, a French-bred horse who finished runner up at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in May and Macchiato, winner at Luhmuhlen in Germany last year. William's Olympic team mates are all also in with a shout. Daisy Dick brings her Olympic partner Spring Along who has never been out of the top 14 on his three past visits to Barbury and Sharon Hunt is also with her Olympic ride Tankers Town. Individual Olympic Bronze Medallist Tina Cook has two rides - the experienced campaigner First Flight and talented young grey, Carraig Dubh and its just one horse, albeit a good one, for Mary King with Apache Sauce. Other British riders in the mix include this year's Badminton Champions Oliver Townend and Flint Curtis, reigning World Champion Zara Phillips with Glenbuck, who is back on form after impressing at Badminton in 2007, 2006 Barbury winner Polly Stockton, Ruth Edge who has two fantastic horses in Two Thyme and Mayhem III, Pippa Funnell with her loyal ride Ensign, Lucy Wiegersma brings Simon Porloe and Nicola Wilson is a rider hungry for selection for the Senior Squad for this year's European Championships in France with one of her two top horses, Opposition Buzz and Master Banks.

The International challenge is largely Antipodean but there are some European challengers who can't be ruled out. Kiwi Andrew Nicholson has been on blistering form this year with his young string of horses including CCI*** wins at Saumur and Bramham. He brings two horses, Mr Cruise Control and his eighth placed Badminton partner, the Spanish-bred Armada. Fellow New Zealanders Joe Meyer, Dan Jocelyn and Neil Spratt are also names to watch. While locally-based Australian and current Barbury Champion Lucinda Fredericks is without a horse to defend her title, husband Clayton will try and uphold the honour with Poilu - Lucinda will be in action in the CIC** and Novice classes over the weekend. China's equestrian superstar Alex Hua Tian, fresh from his 'A' level exams, is starting his summer of intense competition experience and he brings his Olympic mount, FBW Chico as well as Magenta. Ireland were one of a number of countries who used Barbury as a final preparation run ahead of the Olympics last year and again they send a strong squad looking for European selection. Elizabeth Power has two rides in Doonaveeragh O One and Kilpatrick River, Louise Lyons will be looking for a top ten finish with her Olympic partner Watership Down while Joseph Murphy, Brian Curran and Patricia Ryan are always good competitors.

Friday's action is mainly dressage for the CIC*** and ** sections plus one section of Novice plus the star equines of the future will be on show on in the Burghley Dubarry Young Event Horse Classes for four and five year olds which will qualify for the world-renown Championship at Burghley in September. Saturday the competition focus is on Novice and one section of CIC** while dressage for the main section continues throughout the day and the Retraining of Racehorse (ROR) Championship gets underway. Sunday is the main focus with the day getting underway bright and early at 8:00am with the CIC*** show jumping in reverse order while the winner of the second CIC** section will be known by lunchtime. The Main Arena will be busy all day with fast and furious Inter Hunt Team Relay competitions for Senior and Junior riders as well as the Malverns Masters Show Jumping. The ROR title will be settled in the main arena about 1:00pm and then the day ends on Captain Mark Phillips' stunning cross country course when the CIC*** competitors go in reverse order for a bit of added tension to find the 2009 Barbury Champion.

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