RAIN failed to dampen the spirits of riders and spectators as thousands gathered to enjoy The Bramham International Horse Trials last week.
And this year’s four-day event took on an even greater importance because it gave riders a last chance to qualify for this year’s Olympic games.
The annual horse trials, enjoyed as both a social event and a prestigious competition, took place at Bramham Park between Thursday and Sunday.
This year the organisers extended the competition to include 100 extra entrants after rain led to the cancellation of two other important UK equestrian events at Badminton and Chatsworth, which were also due to serve as selection events for the 2012 Olympics.
World and British number one equestrian William Fox-Pitt dominated the trials, as he collected the top prizes in both the CCI and CIC three-star competitions at Bramham Park.
Winnie Murphy, of Bramham Horse Trials, said the weather did not dampen the crowd’s spirits.
She told the News: “Despite the wet weather, people came out with their brollies and wellies to enjoy the event.
“It is great testament to the loyalty we have here at Bramham. People just sort of shrugged their shoulders and said rain, what rain?”
“With the other events being cancelled, Bramham came to the rescue a little bit, Olympic selectors from all over the world still got to see their horses run.”
However, the event was tinged with sadness as organisers confirmed two horses had died at the event on Saturday.
The animals, Clea Phillipps’ Lead the Way and Michael Jackson’s Jagganath, both collapsed and died of heart attacks during and after the cross-county competition:
“It was very sad for us and obviously very sad for the riders,” said course designer Ian Stark.
Mr Stark said there was no way the deaths could have been avoided.
“It does happen occasionally, just like every now and again you get a footballer or rugby player that collapses on the field,” he said.
The Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, was among the competitors at the event.
Zara, 31, the daughter of Princess Anne, came third in the trials and will now take part in a selectors’ event, aiming to qualify for a place in the Olympics.
She was filmed by her husband Mike Tindall as she made her way round the course on her mount, High Kingdom, on Saturday.
In 2007 Zara was awarded an MBE because of her sporting achievements, which include winning a gold medal at the 2006 World Equestrian Games.
The horse trials, which are visited by more than 45,000 people every year over the four days, also hosted a range of shows -including eventing competitions, show jumping classes and a stallion parade.
More than 130 trade stands were available on site, including a food hall and Bistro.
The Bramham International Horse Trials- sponsored this year by Equi-Trek, are one the UK’s biggest premier events, taking place on Bramham Park Estate, owned by the Lane-Fox family, every June.
It runs the prestigious CCI*** event, which attracts top riders and horses to the event.
The International Bramham Horse Trials have been held at the estate and hosted at Bramham Park since 1974.