International athletes line up to contest the 2019 FEI Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International

There are just two weeks to go until the 2019 Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International, incorporating the FEI Eventing Nations Cup. This year the event runs from 23rd – 26th May and will, as usual, welcome riders from across the globe.

Fifteen nations will be represented, from Spain and Sweden to Brazil, Canada and Australia. Entries for the headline ‘CCISO4*’ class, which incorporates the only British leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup, are strong – but will any team successfully challenge the winner of the previous four years, Germany?

Serious contenders for victory in this competitive class include recent Badminton Horse Trials winner Piggy French, who brings forward Cooley Monsoon and Graf Cavalier. Piggy’s fellow team gold medallist from last year’s World Equestrian Games, Gemma Tattersall also has two chances with Jalapeno III and Santiago Bay, while overseas riders to watch are Ingrid Klimke (GER) and Vittoria Panizzon (ITA). Vittoria has entered her punchy little grey mare, crowd favourite Borough Pennyz.

Other top riders throwing their hats in to the ring at Houghton include Eventing icon Lucinda Green, past Badminton winner Sam Griffiths, another British World Championship team gold medallist Tom McEwen and Swedish team medallist Ludwig Svennerstall.

Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International also plays host to, and sponsors, the British Eventing Under 21 Championships. The on-form Heidi Coy, who took individual silver at last summer’s Junior European Championship, has four horses entered – including her medal winning Royal Fury, and it would be hard to bet against her topping the leaderboard at Houghton. Bubby Upton is likely to be her biggest threat – Cola III is a previous seven-year-old Young Horse champion and finished second at Houghton last year, while Eros DHI should also be in contention.

Running alongside the International event, there are showjumping, combined training, dressage, arena eventing and pony club classes, as well as the popular Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse qualifiers, while new for this year is an invitation only Varsity challenge between teams from Oxford and Cambridge.

For those less horse-orientated there will be ‘have a go’ dog agility hosted by Riding for the Disabled, Musketeer’s charity for this year, children’s entertainment, over 70 tradestands, food outlets, and a licenced bar.

One option worth considering is camping on site. This is a truly unique opportunity as camping is not allowed at Houghton Hall at any other time of the year. Camping packages can cover anything from one night to the whole event.

Tickets can be bought in advance via the website, and on the Gate, which opens at 8.30am every day.