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All about the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials

The SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials are firmly established in the eventing calendar. The event has been running since 1990, attracting the world's best riders and the thousands of spectators who visit each year.

The SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials is known as a 'three-day-event', even though the actual competition is run over four days! This is because the event is made up of three phases: dressage, cross-country and show jumping, with the dressage phase taking place over the first two days.

The start of the competition is on the Wednesday afternoon with the first official horse inspection in front of the Ground Jury and the Veterinary Delegate. This is followed by dressage, cross-country and show jumping over the following four days.

There are two main classes held at Blenheim over the four days of the event – the showcase CCI4* Long Format and a CCI4* Short Format for 8 & 9 year old horses. The CCI4* Short Format is for 8 and 9 year old horses and has been specifically developed for younger horses to complete the dressage test followed by show jumping then cross-country. The format for the CCI4*-L class, for older and more experienced horses, starts with dressage, followed by a longer and more technically demanding cross-country phase, which provides a more exacting test and finishes with the show jumping. 

The Ground Jury have ultimate responsibility for judging all three phases of the competition.

The Veterinary Delegate is responsible for ensuring that FEI regulations are adhered to and that horses are fit and able to complete all phases of the competition.


Dressage is the first phase of the competition, in which a series of pre-set movements are judged subjectively. It takes place all day on Thursday and Friday for both the CCI4*-L and CCI4*-S for 8 & 9 year old horse classes.  The CCI4*-L is in the main Marlborough Arena, set against the magnificent backdrop of Blenheim Palace.  The CCI4*-S takes place in the Churchill Arena. 


The cross-country phase is for many the most exciting part of the whole competition. Riders take on the challenge of big solid fences and the unique water complex across the River Glyme. The timed courses run around the beautiful Blenheim parkland, designed by Capability Brown and are renowed for being fast but testing.

The cross-country courses at Blenheim are designed by David Evans and built by David's team - a team which is internationally acclaimed for their course building and design skills.

The CCI4*-L cross-country phase runs on Saturday. The CCI4*-S for 8 & 9 year old horses run on Sunday.

Show Jumping

All show jumping takes place in the main Marlborough Arena in front of Blenheim Palace.

The CCI4*-S for 8 & 9 year old horses show jump on Saturday morning as the second part of their test. This is because it is less challenging for horses to show jump before going cross-country. 

For the CCI4*-L class, show jumping is on Sunday afternoon and runs in reverse order of merit. 

Other Activities

In addition to world class eventing action, there are lots of other activities on offer at the event each year. These include the Pony Club and Riding Club team eventer challenges on the Thursday and Friday, the 90cm and 100cm eventer challenges on Sunday and the master's gate jumping challenge.

There are also a plethora of other displays and attractions throughout the event for all the family, including children's play areas, a food and drink walk, and more than 200 outlets in the shopping village.