I can’t wait for this week’s Longines FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair.
Any championship is exciting, but I have to admit to having a particular love affair with Blair. It started when I did my first CCI* there in 2000 (pictured), continued through riding there again in 2004 and on to the recent years when I’ve reported there.
So, I’ve pulled together eight Blair memories to share with you in this European Championships week. Some are funny, some are painful, all are true.
1. Celebrity good luck wishes
In 2000, as I was riding into the 10-minute box at the end of the roads and tracks (remember those?), Ian Stark was riding out to start. He wished me good luck on the way past. I was very, very excited.
2. First photo with my future husband
Seven years after riding at Blair in 2004, I moved in with my boyfriend, John Kyle (pictured commentating at Blair), and put a big frame of photos from the event up on the wall, whereupon he pointed out that he was in the trot-up photo, commentating in his suit and bowler hat. He’s probably in the 2000 one too, actually, as he’s commentated at the event every year since 1997 — he got his school exam results while he was at Blair that first year!
3. A clear in the time
Still one of my proudest achievements in eventing is that VIP (Peanut to his friends) and I had a fault-free cross-country round on my three-day debut in Blair’s CCI* in 2000. It was a horrible rainy day, when the one-star riders ran across country after the two-stars, and with a hilly nine-minute track — the upper limit for one-star — on wet ground after roads and tracks and steeplechase, not many managed it.
4. A less stellar Sunday
Slightly less proud of the fact I had six showjumps down the next day. Hmmm…
5. A soaking
Also on the “ones to forget” list is that in 2004, I fell off in the last water jump.
6. A special win
In 2000 when I rode at Blair, I was on my gap year and a working pupil for Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks. Lucinda won the CCI2* on Tina’s Gold, a horse I was very fond of and often rode at home.
7. Scottish dancing
Not sure if this still happens, but I have brilliant memories from the Thursday night Scottish dancing party in the castle in 2000.
8. Highland cows
In 2004, as I was riding along a track on phase A, there were some hairy Highland cows leaning over the fence into the track. Peanut took one look at them and decided there was no way he was going past them. No way. It took me about two minutes to persuade him — how embarrassing would it have been if I’d had to wait for the next rider to come along and give me a lead?