A couple from Scotland are travelling to Badminton as special-guest fence judges after being named as British Eventing’s (BE) fence judges of the year.

Alisdair and Pat Macrae, from Saline in Fife, have spent more than 40 years supporting the sport and this year were recognised with both regional and national awards for their efforts.

Having become involved through the livery yard where their eldest daughter kept her ponies, they started stewarding for dressage and cross-country in the late 1970s.

“Once your face got known there was no escape and thereafter they got heavily involved with horses, full stop,” joked their younger daughter Grace Moran. “My dad went on to do health and safety at Burgie for several years and later at Aswanley.”

Both Ali and Pat later became district commissioners of the East Aberdeen branch of the Pony Club, with tenures in the late 1980s and early 90s; while Ali was also chairman for the local BHS.

“They later moved down from north of Aberdeen to the central band of Scotland and they’ll fence-judge at pretty much all the Scottish horse trials now, they’ll do seven or eight a season,” said Grace. “They enjoy it. They’ll be getting back from Badminton on the Monday night and hooking up the caravan for Floors on Wednesday.”

She added that her parents had received news of the award while on holiday in New Zealand and had been “a bit shocked but thrilled” — but that her mum was beginning to “panic a bit” about fence-judging at Badminton.

“I think she’s just realised it’s pretty serious stuff!” she said. “She was relieved to find she’d be at jump two as she’s hoping nothing much will happen there!”

Meanwhile, Ali has had to acquire a bowler hat for the occasion.

“We don’t have to wear them much north of the border,” Grace said. “We put out a quick Facebook plea and managed to borrow one from a steward, David Read, who has done Burghley a few times.

“Hopefully they’ll be enjoying the hype around Badminton and getting to go to the cocktail party,” she added.

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BE chief executive David Holmes said the BE fence judge of the year award recognised “those in our sport who have dedicated their time and energy to fence judging week in, week out”.

“Without BE volunteers we simply could not run events to that standard that we do. From everyone involved with British Eventing — the competitors, organisers, officials, staff and supporters — we are extremely grateful to Alasdair and Pat for their many years of service and wish them a wonderful experience fence judging at the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.”

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