Anyone want to discuss what the various 3* are like overseas? Who's been? Which would be a good first overseas 3*? What types of horses do the courses suit? Are there major differences in cost, accessibility, travel etc.?
Eventing Nation posted a video of Boekelo from last year - it appeared to require a catty horse, as there were narrow lanes, lots of turning, and quite a few "think quickly on your feet" questions.
You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng
I've been to watch Blenheim, Bramham, Blair, and Punchestown (no longer with us, sad day) all in the British Isles. All are BIG. Blair probably would be the softest of the 3, and Blenheim was probably bigger than the Olympics. All are very British events, with it usually raining. Bramham is maybe a bit more technical while Blenheim is huge and on rolling terrain.
I haven't been to Boecklo, but I've been told it's a bit trappy.
I also believe Boekelo is a international team competition. Or an unofficial team competition, or whatever the designation is, therefore qualifies for USOC funding...I might not have that entirely correct, but I think that is the reason US gets some trip funding for that event.
I went to XC day at Blenheim a few years ago, quite by accident. It was heavenly. Firstly, you can hang on the rail and watch the xc warm up. I chatted with a bunch of biggies as there was a hold on course. Then I wandered and walked the entire course. It is big and beautiful and was NOT raining. Totally spectator friendly.
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I agree, Blenheim is an awesome event! It's big and gallopy and gorgeous, and very spectator-friendly. Mr. Fergs went and told me he'd go to a lot more of my competitions if they were like Blenheim (I think he was specifically referring to drinking fresh tap beer from a glass).
I'll say, though, that it was a pretty tough course. It's really big, with some technical questions, and there were plenty of problems the year I went (like Arthur running out at the second-to-last).
Then again, I really don't even know how one would characterize a good move-up international ***!
Blair is very hilly the terrain takes a real effect and its always a good xc competition. A lot of horses move up after the dressage. The Sjing always seems to be very influential as well.
Bramham is always big hence some GB horses do well there and will be selected without running at 4* because of it.
Blenheim is a lovely event - smaller than 4* in atmosphere but a great galloping track.
Boekelo is very flat hence why its probably very twisty. A lot of young horses go there for qualifications for the following season.
Saumur is also a pretty impressive 3* in France and Tattersalls has now taken over from Punchestown in Ireland. WFP seems to always do very well at Tattersalls on a first time 3* horse.
The problem in the UK is often qualifying for the CCI3* especially this year when entries have been bombarded due to the weather. I have a friend who was desperate for a qualification and because she is a no name kept being balloted - happened at 2 events (over 100 entries in both) about 90 mins away so had to make the 10 hour journey to Scotland.
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Blenheim is a lovely event: a bit like Burghley of old, before that became a fixture on the social calender and people starting going just to do their Christmas shopping. It is big, galloping, good for spectators and, possibly best of all, has 2 days of cross country as it runs a young horse event on the Sunday. And the Palace is open too.
Boekelo is flat and offers good going, usually, but it is a twisty course. Often used as a step up for younger horses as it is less challenging than Blenheim.