Meet the team – Ian Stark

March 24th, 2017

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Floors Castle International Horse Trials are honoured to have former silver Olympic medallist Ian Stark designing the CIC**, Intermediate and CIC* at this year’s event. He needs little introduction and we don’t have the space to list his long list of achievements but you can take a look at them on the Ian Stark Equestrian Centre website. Floors Castle Horse Trials joins an exclusive club of events that have their cross country tracks designed Ian. His major courses include Chatsworth International, Allerton Horse Trials, Bramham CCI*** and CIC***, Tattersalls International and several USA International events up to three star. He also did the European tracks when it was held at Blair in 2015.
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In short, he’s a very busy man but we managed to pin him down for a quick catch up…
What makes Floors Castle Horse Trials great?
Floors is a great setting with the backdrop of the Castle central to everything – the parkland offers a natural amphitheatre. The ground is always good and fast, and the organisers are knowledgeable and forward thinking which makes it easier for me to try new things.
What makes designing a course at Floors tricky? 
The slightly tricky thing about the site has traditionally been that the course followed a slightly long and narrow route, and there was not a great deal of variety in terrain – but we have completely overcome those issues by taking the courses into new areas which has allowed us to build a new water complex, a new bank complex and a fabulous downhill runway over a big ditch. There are lots of smaller undulations we have also identified and built into the course so it is now a really interesting track. I am really proud of what we have done over the last five years or so – and I think Angus has brought some great new ideas to the BE90 and BE100 so I am excited to see what he will do with the Novice course this year.
When designing the course, what inspires you?
I am always inspired by the natural terrain and features of the setting – hence why I have found new slopes and bumps to build around. I also take inspiration from the Castle and its history – for example in the case of the Canon fence which was inspired by the tale of King James II of Scotland who was killed in the grounds of Floors Castle when his canon backfired.
floors 2
How do you hope the courses at Floors will ride and what skills will riders need to hone?
As always I want my tracks to encourage bold riding but with intelligence – so there are questions that require attacking riding but with accuracy, such as the drop into water to the skinny in the water, or big corners on a turning line. I am not a fan of twisty courses so I am delighted that having opened up ground we are able to create a really flowing course with a true mix of questions.
Top tip – kick on…with control!
What is you favourite parts of the courses at Floors Castle Horse Trials?
The new loop on the CIC**, the new water, the new bank and the rider frightening slope down to open ditch.
water at floors
When not designing course or riding, you can be found…
I am stewarding at the races, working in the kitchen at the Equestrian Centre or –  preferably! – skiing in Val d’Isere.

Who was your horse of a lifetime?

Sir Wattie. He wasn’t blessed with the most powerful body or the flashiest paces or the scopiest jump, but he was an absolute warrior and he had a will to win that matched my own.
What advice would you give a younger you?
I learnt pretty quickly the importance of valuing your owners and sponsors. Without them your career and life with horses can be tough and miserable. As a rider you must always keep the commercial needs of your sponsors in mind – you are their brand ambassador and should act accordingly – and you must always remember that while your owners will value honesty they must also enjoy their eventing experience and days out, and want to know the positives of their horses. Young people should remember that their parents are their sponsors and their owners!!! In short, be gracious and grateful for the opportunities and support you are provided.
We can’t wait to see what Ian produces this year!
Floors Castle International Horse Trials will be run from 12th – 14th May 2017. With classes from BE90 – CIC** Floors is a popular event among competitors.
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