Borders-based Olympic silver medalist Ian Stark, Ashkirk, has designed a record-breaking international cross-country course at Hopetoun for the Gillespie Macandrew Horse Trials at the end of July.
For this will be the first time an international course has taken cross-country riders right to the doorstep of the house itself.
This was the observation of one of the world’s best known event riders Lucinda Green, who visited her cousin, The Earl of Hopetoun, to review the new event.
“It has not happened at Badminton or Burghley but here the course runs within 15m of the house itself,” said Lucinda. “If it came any closer it would be in the red drawing room.”
Visitors to Scotland’s new international event will see some of the world’s leading riders jump into the formal gardens from the adjacent deer park, via the surrounding ha-ha. They then gallop along the raised terrace on the side of the West Lawn before crossing the front of the house and making their way down the Lime Avenue and back into the deer park via a second ha-ha crossing.
And on a track built on the banks of the Forth, it was only fitting that the water complex includes two obstacles – the Forth Road Bridge, with just two strides to the Forth Rail Bridge, both jumped in the water.
Alongside the equestrian activities, which will run on both days, the event will incorporate some of the most popular elements of the former Hopetoun Summer Fair as well as introducing new and exciting attractions for all ages and interests.
The national events agency, EventScotland is supporting the Horse Trials through the national funding programme to assist with marketing and communications activities. Its Chief Operating Officer, Paul Bush OBE, commented: "We welcome the Hopetoun International Horse Trials onto our funding programme and feel it is a unique event in West Lothian that will attract visitors and participants from across Scotland and beyond. Hopetoun House is the perfect stage for showcasing Scotland as a place of scenic beauty and rich heritage whilst combining this with a top level sporting action."