Honour for Blenheim Horse Trials course builder

David Evans, with the Duke of Marlborough.
David Evans receives the Bill Thomson Memorial Award from the Duke of Marlborough. © Adam Fanthorpe

Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials Course Builder David Evans has been recognised for his work.

Evans, 47, received the Bill Thomson Memorial Award over the weekend at the Blenheim Horse Trials.

The award is in tribute to the memory of Bill Thomson, who was famous for his course design at Burghley and many other events, establishing many of the methods still used today. His flair for creating challenging yet fair obstacles remains the inspiration for the sport’s leading designers worldwide. Each year, the award is presented to a course builder or course designer who has contributed significantly to the sport. Previous winners include Captain Mark Phillips, Alan Willis, and Philip Herbert.

Zara Phillips and Toytown on their way to winning the 2005 European Eventing Championships over the David Evans-designed course at Blenheim.
Zara Phillips and Toytown on their way to winning the 2005 European Eventing Championships over the David Evans course at Blenheim.

Oxfordshire-based Evans started his course building career further north in Cumbria where he and his father, Tony, would design and build the courses at the former Holker Hall Horse Trials. He then decided that he wanted to get into course building as a career and 20 or so years ago he took the big decision to move further south to the heart of the sport in the UK.

“It’s always a sign that people want you to retire when you start receiving awards!” Evans said. “Joking aside, I am very honoured to receive the award and to be acknowledged, but I literally could not do it the way we do without such a good team: my business partner Richard Taylor, my top team leaders Charles Etherington-Smith, Mike Pope, Karl Fletcher, Alex Pickles and of course everyone involved.

“I consider myself very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to get chosen to work in stunning parks such as Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth, Bramham and Luhmühlen.”

The first major international competition for Evans as a course builder was at Blenheim which staged the 2005 FEI European Championships. He and his team remain in charge of the course and its annual preparation, and he now builds courses of all levels all over the world including the 2008 Beijing Olympics. David also gives clinics for the International Federation in Europe and is an international course designer in his own right.

British Eventing Chief Executive, Mike Etherington-Smith commented on David’s achievement: “He has driven the standard of presentation to new levels and is now undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, course builders in the world and is a thoroughly deserving winner of this award.”


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