Blenheim Horse Trials: a spectators view

  • I live more than a good hour’s drive from Blenheim and with the weather reports promising torrential rain all day, I was debating whether to go or not.

    I got up at 6.30am to put fly cream on the horse as the midges were out in force. It was spotting with rain as I started but coming down in stair rods by the time I was back in the house, with angry black clouds swirling overhead — not looking good at all.

    Undecided what to do I jumped in the shower, thought “what the heck” and packed a complete change of clothing for my other half (OH) and I, since the previous year we got literally soaked to the skin at the Europeans. Long suffering OH didn’t comment, looked resigned and made the picnic.

    By the time we got onto the hills the rain wasn’t as heavy, so I optimistically told OH it was brightening up. OH said nothing! The closer we got the blacker it became and the rain got heavier. We turned into Blenheim Palace and drove over already slippery and muddy grass to park. OH muttering about bogged down cars and us being stuck there till midnight! We loaded up the backpack with our picnic and set off into the rain — OH with a grim expression, me still chirpily optimistic.

    Once through the turnstiles, we stopped at Fence 2 to watch the first horse go. By the time the horse came through the rain had eased to spots in the wind so I optimistically put my brolly away.

    We opted to walk the course while it was dry so set off on our journey. It was a tricky course with lots of technical lines and narrow doubles and trebles. They interviewed William Fox-Pitt over the PA and he remarked it was equally as difficult as the World Equestrian Games the previous week, but more taxing since WEG was basically flat where as this course required a lot of galloping over rolling parkland with some serious gradients.

    Blenheim is great for spectators as you can so see well because of the hills, with excellent views of the water. It was incredibly windy but it didn’t rain again to speak of, apart from a couple of mins of light rain here and there in the wind. It kept threatening and the clouds looked angry — but that was all. We ate our picnic sitting in the stands where you could see the arena fence and watch the big screen as well.

    We did the stalls last. I did quite well on the freebies, entered competitions, bought some items from my horsey shopping list and some things I didn’t realise I needed! We wandered back for coffee in the car to sustain us before the traffic queues and trip home. Incredibly, by the time we were ready to leave we drove straight out without stopping. The strong wind had dried the parkland so the mud had gone and the grass wasn’t even wet. I was feeling very smug by then, remarking to OH “See, I told you it would be okay!”

    One the drive home we hit serious rain halfway across the hills. My daughter said it had been raining heavily virtually all day so we were marvelling at how lucky we had been.
    What a fabulous, and surprisingly dry, day!

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