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David Evans and Richard Taylor design and build cross country courses and portable cross country jumps. Their scope of work includes everything from supplying portable schooling jumps to building, dressing and maintaining cross country tracks for high profile international three day events.
For the first time in its nearly 20 year history, Blenheim International Horse Trials was cancelled due to appalling weather conditions in September 2008.
Although a small team of coursebuilders had been on site from the day after the Game Fair in early August, David Evans and the rest of his team returned from the Olympics in Hong Kong just three weeks before the event was due to run.
Exhausted by the gruelling run up to the Olympic event (which included typhoons and flooding when doesnt it?) as well as the celebrations afterwardsthe boys touched down to rather a soggy scene...
At Blenheim, David Evans is Clerk of the course, which means he and his team are responsible for the conditions of the cross country track as well as all the ground on site.
Although there are some permanent jumps, the majority of obstacles at Blenheim are portable and have to be brought in from off site storage. Despite very wet conditions for the two weeks leading up to the event, the going was good and with a concerted effort from David and his team, the course was made ready in time for the event.
On the main event site however, deteriorating ground conditions meant that all of the trade stands arriving in the days preceding the horse trials had to be towed onto their pitches by tractors so that the ground would be safe for spectators during the following days.
In these already chaotic conditions, hundreds of tonnes of stone had to be brought in to make good areas of heavy traffic in the areas around the main arena. In the on site stabling area, all of the horse boxes also had to be towed into place.
Heavy and prolonged rain in the two days before the event also had severe effects on what was already good to soft going on the cross country track, in particular around the water complexes.
During the two days before the cross country was scheduled to run, the take offs and landings of the worst affected jumps were dug out and made good with permeable membrane and stone in order to ensure the safety of both horses and riders. A number of technically demanding complexes were altered or removed from the course for this same reason.
Under what were appalling conditions, David and his team worked tirelessly to make the course ready to run until late on the Friday night. Tonnes of stone were bagged up and taken out onto various points on the course to provide means of ground repair the following day. As darkness fell however, it was announced, on the grounds of horse, rider and spectator safety, that Blenheim International Horse Trials was to be cancelled. Many people will remember the ensuing scenes at the stables bar!
The following days saw the hard work continue. Although the weather turned bright, sunny and dry, ground conditions on both the main event site and the stabling area were very poor. Hundreds of lorries, caravans and tradestands had to be pulled off the site one by one by tractors. By this point in the stabling box park the lorry ruts were almost knee deep in places, making movement difficult and hazardous.
Within the park, roads had to be continually cleaned, and outside the main event site, road sweeping lorries were hired to keep the main roads around Blenheim free from mud.
Once the site had been cleared of traffic, it took a number of weeks to make good the park. As always, all the jumps had to be removed and dismantled, the flags string and sponsor boards taken down. The ground conditions meant large scale flattening and re-seeding many areas, including the parks verges, the main arena field and the stabling area.
David Evans and his team (including many more soggy boys and girls !) would like to thank everyone involved, including many of the riders, for their support, encouragement and positive attitude in the difficult days running up to the event. It goes without saying that we hope for better conditions for Blenheim 2009!
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