TV stars to judge talent at annual Firle Place event


More than 500 riders, 1,000 dogs and as many as 10,000 visitors will descend on Firle Place this weekend for the 39th annual International Horse Trials, Country Fair and Dog Festival.

Many of the country’s leading riders, including British top rider William Fox Pitt and local British team members Gemma Tatterstall and Francis Whittington, will be competing in the International Horse Trials, which includes dressage on Firle Place lawns on Saturday (August 29).

On Sunday (August 30), as well as dressage, cross country and show jumping, there is the Country Fair and Firle Dog Festival.

The Country Fair offers have-a-go archery on the lawns of Firle Place, along with a Weald Craft marquee, bar and a wide range of trade stands and Farmers Market stalls.

The Firle Dog Festival, with more than 1,000 dogs competing for honours in a wide range of events, is open to all, with entries to be submitted on the day.

The My Dog Has Talent competition will be judged by BBC broadcaster and writer David Dimbleby and actor Susan Jameson.

Susan will also signing copies of her book Pony Tails, a collection of short children stories based on four horse native breeds and published by Sussex based publishers Forelock Books.

Organiser Josephine Carr said: “Dog owners will relish the huge variety of dog competitions, including the high octane gundog scurries and terrier racing, Longdog racing, dog shows and fun agility.

“We are very grateful to David and Susan for agreeing to judge this year’s “My Dog Has Talent” and are looking for Sussex’s canine stars to come forward. Last year we had dogs that played the piano and sang.”

The event is run in aid of Hope in the Valley Riding for the Disabled, the Breast Cancer Campaign and other local charities.

Entry is £10 per car on Saturday, including all occupants, and £15 per car on Sunday.Three Dog Show entry vouchers are included in the event programme. Gates open at 9am both days.

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Hope in the Valley offers weekly riding lessons for physically disabled children. Based at Plumpton College, riding lessons are held in a full-size indoor arena, and in fine weather the children can enjoy a hack around the grounds of the college. As well as weekly term-time riding, all the riders also participate in horse-care classes.

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The Breast Cancer Campaign is the UK’s leading breast cancer research charity, dedicated to funding research into the devastating disease and how to stop it.

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