In just under 12 months the FEI European Eventing Championships 2015 get under way at Blair Castle in Scotland, and tickets are already selling fast.
Event Director Alec Lochore knows Blair Castle like the back of his hand, and with his experience as Eventing Manager for the 2012 London Olympic Games, is ideally placed to put on the most spectacular show that Blair has ever seen.
“It’s hugely exciting to be hosting the European Championships in Scotland – my home country. Blair Castle is a wonderful venue, with a remarkable team behind it; we will all be working flat out to make sure that visitors – riders, horses, volunteers, spectators, tradestand holders, everyone – will enjoy a fantastic few days in the Scottish Highlands,” Lochore said.
Whilst Germany has been successful in recent years at Olympic, World and European level, Great Britain will be pulling out all the stops on home soil to regain the team title that they held for 16 consecutive years, from 1995 to 2009. A team silver medal at last month’s FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) will have fired a warning shot across the German bows, and a place on the home squad is the next hot ticket that all top British riders will be gunning for.
Bronze medallists at WEG, The Netherlands can no longer be overlooked as medal contenders, while France will be keen to make amends for narrowly missing out on their home turf in August 2014.
The event, from September 10 to 13, is part of UK Sport’s Gold Event Series, an ambitious programme to bring up to 70 world class events to home soil by 2019 to build a strong sporting legacy. This includes 36 World and European Championships, and is in support of the preparations of British athletes for Rio 2016.
The fairytale setting, testing terrain and warm Scottish hospitality at Blair Castle guarantee a memorable event, both for competitors and spectators.
A challenging new cross-country course has been built by Ian Stark MBE. Stark was born in Galashiels, so is the archetypal ‘local boy’. During his illustrious riding career he won four Olympic, three World Championship and nine European Championship medals – half of them gold. Riders can be sure that he will know exactly how to test them, whilst producing a track that is horse friendly.
Big, bold and galloping are three words regularly used when riders describe Ian Stark courses.
Simon Morton, Director of Major Events and International Relations at UK Sport, said the FEI European Eventing Championships will be one of the biggest sporting events in Scotland next year.
“As proved by the recent hugely successful Commonwealth Games, Scotland has all the elements needed to stage outstanding sporting events. UK Sport will be working closely with partners from Scotland to make it a memorable championships and continue to build our global reputation for staging world class sport through the Gold Event Series,” he said.
Alongside the eventing competition there will be Highland pony, hunter and NPS Scotland showing classes, show jumping and Pony Club mounted games. The Bruadar Country Fair will offer non-horsey visitors plenty of entertainment with a wide range of demonstrations each day, and in the evenings visitors will be able to enjoy a Ceilidh, live bands, a disco, and that all important charity whisky tasting.
Blair Castle, which dates back to 1269, is the ancient seat of the Dukes of Atholl and home to the Atholl Highlanders, the last remaining private army in Europe. The castle houses countless fascinating historical artefacts detailing 700 years of Scottish history and is the perfect place to start a tour of the country. It was one of the first private homes to open to the public in Scotland, with regular tours providing visitors the chance to views its extensive collections and beautiful gardens.
Atholl Estates is one of Scotland’s best known Highland Estates which dates back to the 13th century. Comprising of 145,000 acres of farmland, woodland and moorland in the heart of Highland Perthshire, the Estate is renowned for its scenery and wildlife.