Petplan is to cease its title sponsorship of the Blenheim International Horse Trials at the end of this year.

In September, the insurance company will have sponsored Blenheim for seven years, during which time the event has grown in status, culminating in its hosting of this year’s FEI Blenheim Petplan European Eventing Championships (8-11 September).

“We shall be very sorry to say goodbye to Petplan,” said event director Mike Etherington-Smith. “We’ve had a fantastic time and it makes a lot of sense for the company to finish on a high. It has a done a huge amount for the event and the sport and we’re very grateful.”

Petplan communications manager Fiona Pinkney said: “It’s been a difficult decision because the sponsorship has been successful for us. We remain totally committed to supporting the European Championships.”

Etherington-Smith said he has had no talks with potential new sponsors as yet, but hinted: “We’ve had a few thoughts and ideas — it’s onwards and upwards from here.”

VW increases support

German car manufacturer Volkswagen has been strengthening its relationship with eventing by providing the five members of last year’s Olympic team with off-road vehicles.

Leslie Law, Jeanette Brakewell, William Fox-Pitt, Pippa Funnell and Mary King have been given black Touareg 4x4s to drive for the duration of the eventing season.

The company has also become official vehicle sponsor for the Europeans. Fourteen Touaregs will be supplied for officials to drive off-road and more will be available for fence judges and dressage judges. On top of this, Volkswagen is also sponsoring two of Blenheim’s cross-country fences.

Boost for Blair Castle

EventScotland, the national events organisation, has announced a three year investment into the Bowmore Blair Castle International Horse Trials, geared around securing the European Young Rider Championships at Blair Castle in 2007.

If Blair is successful, Scotland will host a major international equestrian fixture for the first time. Atholl Estates, organisers of the Perthshire event, have been granted provisional status as hosts for the Europeans and are awaiting official confirmation from British Eventing and the International Equestrian Federation this autumn.

In total, £140,000 of public money has been earmarked for the event across three years, with EventScotland providing the majority of funding. Perth and Kinross Council and Sportscotland have also agreed to back the event. The investment will be spent on an event size TV screen, multimedia facilities, marketing and training and development.

The European Young Rider Championship, which is being held in France this year, attracts more than 50 competitors from as many as 16 nations. It is estimated the event will bring upwards of £1.5m into Perthshire.

Sarah Phillips, Bowmore Blair Castle International Horse Trials event director, said: “We are delighted that we have received this funding from EventScotland, Sportscotland and Perth and Kinross Council. It allows us to develop the event with new facilities to rival those found at any other major equestrian event. With a three year plan in place we can work in partnership towards 2007 and ensure that it really puts Scotland on the map as a venue for international competitions.”