MARTYN Johnson hopes spectators will enjoy the Barbury Horse Trials better than ever before this year when he oversees the event for the first time next month.

Johnson has been appointed event director by organisers the Event Rider Masters, who have taken over the running of the trials following the sale of the Barbury Castle Estate by previous owner Nigel Bunter earlier this year.

The ERM worked alongside Bunter 12 months ago as their own competition appeared for the first time alongside Barbury’s three and two-star classes but the former will now manage all of the categories across the four days.

This year’s event runs from July 6-9 and Johnson hopes to provide an all-round package for spectators as well as spectacular sporting action.

“One of the reasons we took on Barbury was to try to improve fan experience and bring new in technologies,” said Johnson.

“Last year was a big learning curve and this year we have some new things and Barbury is pretty key to us.

“We have got Games Maker types, like were at the Olympics, that will be around trying to point people towards what we do and a dressage scoring app that people can log in to and we are putting WiFi everywhere. It’s really about trying to improve the whole fan experience and the field is going to be top class.

“We have the likes of William Fox-Pitt and Oliver Townend and a big contingent of foreign riders, such as Andrew Nicholson, who is local anyway, and will be there with his Badminton-winning horse Nereo.”

Previous organiser Bunter had been at the forefront of the event’s management since launching the trials as a one-day event back in 2005 and Johnson was keen to praise its development into one of the premier competitions on the national circuit.

“Nigel has done a great job, he set the event up and established it and Barbury is definitely considered one of the top events in the country,” said Johnson.

“That’s all down to him and the work he has done in the past, alongside Holly Farr, who was organiser under Nigel and has retained the same position.

“We are now trying to build on what he has done, with the ERM and their technology, and trying to improve the event all the time.”