HUNDREDS of people have started to arrive at Burghley Park in preparation for this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Work has been going on behind the scenes for the last 12 months but this week trade stands, seating, scoreboards and stables are being installed ahead of the four-day event.
With more than 700 contractors working to get the site ready in time, it’s a mammoth task and event director Elizabeth Inman and her team have the unenviable job of co-ordinating the operation.
She said: “Many of the contractors come back year after year. It’s great that people keep coming back but sometimes people don’t appreciate the cause and effect in planning an event of this size. One small change can impact on lots of other areas so you can’t become complacent.”
This year is the 50th anniversary of the event, which has brought about extra planning for the organisers.
Not only have new jumps been added to the course, past winners have been invited to the event for a parade through the main arena and Princess Anne will visit on the Sunday to present prizes to the winner.
Elizabeth said: “Royal visits always require more planning but we have had a wonderful response and I think it’s one of the reasons we have sold so many tickets.”
Tickets sales for the cross-country event on Saturday are so high that Elizabeth has had to call in extra toilets this week to cope with the number of visitors. Entries for the competition are also at record levels as it is the last four-star qualifying event for the Olympics.
Away from the main arenas and the gaze of the public, 150 temporary stables have been put up in the competitors’ village along with training areas and a camp site for the riders.
Elizabeth has been involved with the event in different ways for 30 years, first getting involved through the Burghley Pony Club.
As the site takes shape, Elizabeth and her seven-strong team are on hand to make sure everything is just right for the riders, horses, traders, television crews, member, volunteers and visitors.
The international competitors will start arriving this weekend and all the riders will be in place by Wednesday when the horses will be paraded in front of the judges to make sure they are fit to compete. Next week the traders, catering teams and television crews will arrive before the gates open to the public on Thursday morning.
After the event it will take three weeks to return the site to its former state before Elizabeth and her team start planning the 2012 horse trials.
To plan your visit to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk