A GOOD year could become a great one for Wiltshire eventer David Doel this weekend as he takes five horses to Barbury Horse Trials.

The Lacock-based rider, whose biggest hope lies with Eisfee in the main three-star class, is in the middle of enjoying one of his best seasons to date having picked up second place at two major competitions in the past two months.

But with a gold medal missing from his three-star cabinet, Doel is hopeful that 11-year-old mare Eisfee is the answer to all his dreams in the main category at this weekend’s competition.

He said: “We’ve been having our best season so far.

“Eisfee has had two seconds in a pair of big three-star classes at Chatsworth and Renswoude in Holland.

“All of the other horses have finished in the top 10 in the majority of their runs.

“Everything is going well at the moment.”

Doal has three horses competing in the three-star event with another two penned in for the two-star and national novice class respectively.

Despite his successful season, Doal was first to admit the year hasn’t been without its challenges – pinpointing variable weather conditions as one of the biggest problems he’s had to face.

A rain-soaked spring made it hard for Doal to drill his usual training methods into his promising group of horses, while a lack of rainfall in the past month has left the ground rock hard.

But knowing Barbury will do what they can to make the ground ride well comforted Wellington winner, who described the location as unique.

“There’s always a good buzz about Barbury, and being surrounded by the stands and crowds makes it special,” he said.

“It’s good fun to jump around and it will be interesting to see how the new layout works this year, the dressage is closer to keep the competition more compact.

“The sacrifice you have to make to reach the top level worthwhile, I think of my poor wife when I say that.

“Team wise it goes from my parents to the people that work for us, the farrier that puts the shoes on and the vet that keeps them sound.

“Plus the owners and trainers, it’s a massive list of people involved in these horses, you could go on and on.”