With only just over two months to go until one of the most anticipated events in the eventing calendar, Blenheim International Horse Trials (BPIHT), we caught up David Evans, the highly acclaimed course designer.

Although David has been associated with BPIHT for over two decades, this will be the sixth time he will design the Blenheim Palace cross country course. He and his team are also responsible for building the fences and for the maintenance of the course – as they were for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

What are the changes to the XC this year?

Quite a few new changes, somewhere in the course I am designing a canal turn type fence to represent The Jockey Club. The fence will have a big ditch in front of it, on a turn. I thought there should be some link toward The Jockey Club so this is the perfect fence to showcase it. Steeplechase fences by themselves don’t normally work on Cross Country courses but actually, a new little ditch I made over the winter will be perfect for a canal turn fence.

How many new fences will there be?

Hoping to have 8 – 12 new fences on the course with a variety of different combinations. We have spent a lot of time building a new water jump which will have three efforts. As well as this I am currently waiting to hear who the sponsor is taking over the South Lawn so I can design a fence to fit their brand.

What is the next process?

All the groundwork has been done at Blenheim, but we don’t normally start building the fences until the beginning of August.

Can you tell us about the new fence you are designing with a mystery guest?

I am not allowed to say too much at the moment, the fence is not fully decided yet, but it is going to be at the beginning of the course, it is going to be a safety fence and have MIM clips on it. It will be an Oxer, one for each class, and then we are going to have our mystery guest dressing in the centre, left and right of the fence.

So, the next steps for making the fence will be visiting Blenheim where we can talk about where the fence is best suited and then on the next visit, I will be inviting the mystery guest to our workshop so they can be involved with the process of making and fitting the fence.

This is a really exciting project for us. It is important that we keep modernising the sport and keeping it fresh and exciting. Watch out to see who the mystery guest fence designer is and the reveal of their first cross country fence.