Somerford Park: bringing dressage to all

Somerford Park: bringing dressage to all

High profile dressage has been hosted at Cheshire’s Somerford Park Farm for over a decade but for 2015, it’s all change and the new team have huge plans for one of the North West’s premier equine fixtures.  The British Dressage Premier League fixture was established in 2002 and grew into one of the area’s premier dressage events under the guidance of Julian Sebire.  But the leadership has passed to co-organisers Jo Graham and Susie Farnon for this year and the duo are focused on making it a dressage spectacle for everyone, young and old, equine or not.

For 2015, they’ll run the existing Premier League show over 22nd – 24th May with a range of classes, right up to the sport’s pinnacle, grand prix and as ever, the sport’s top riders are expected to compete. But this year’s event comes with a twist; Jo and Susie are devoted dressage lovers and they want to showcase the sport to a wider public. So, this year’s event will be a family-friendly affair with a ‘Kids’ Corner’ complete with bouncy castle, bungee trampolines and tea cup and saucer ride.  Plus there’ll be sessions with some of our top riders where visitors can meet them and learn more about their careers and dressage.

Jo Graham commented; “As well as the dressage spectacle we love, this new venture is being geared towards being family-friendly and, above all else, fun!  Many new ideas are being discussed and we want to explore new territory to be able to bring dressage to a wider audience.  We want to offer the best facilities and organisation possible for the riders and horses but equally give spectators that little bit extra on this fantastic showground.  We have an enthusiastic committee behind us and we’re all looking forward to welcoming everyone, old and new, to this new event.”

This year however is merely a dress rehearsal for what’s on the horizon in 2016.  Next year, the fixture has been granted international status and will run a CDI3* alongside the Premier League fixture.  So make sure 26th – 30th May 2016 is firmly in your diary! 


Crucially, Somerford will be one of the final fixtures in Europe for riders to secure their qualification for the Rio Olympics. With an eye on future Olympians, Jo and the team will also add a new feature class in 2016, the Future International Dressage Star.  With sections for riders aged under 10 up to 21, there will be four sections and riders will be judged on their ability, position and effectiveness.  Preliminary rounds will be hosted on Saturday 28 May with the top four in each section going forward to Sunday’s Championship before Olympic and European Team Gold Medallist Carl Hester has the tough job of selecting a supreme champion.  So youngsters are encouraged to pay Somerford a visit this year to see the showground and get a feel of the event with a view to riding there in 2016!

The established Premier League kicks off the 2016 action over 26 – 27 May followed by the CDI over 28 – 90 May.  The CDI will feature classes at the pinnacle of the sport including ‘small tour’ and ‘big tour’ and will also feature international competition for pony, junior and young rider levels.  European and World Team medallist Gareth Hughes welcomed the news; “Somerford has built into one of the finest show facilities in the country.  With the new team involved, which includes former international rider and now respected judge Jo Graham, I’m not only looking forward to competing there but also know what a huge success it will be.”

Visitors can add a touch of luxury to their trip with a table in the arena-view VIP marquee.  The package includes show entry, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and all the dressage action you can drink in! Layout changes mean that the numbers of trade stands has been increased so there will be ample opportunity for a spot of shopping distraction as well as the new entertainments plus somewhere to grab a bite to eat.