Representatives from seven countries will vie for Scotlands most prestigious crown at this years Bowmore Blair Castle Horse Trials (Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th August). A record number of entries have been received, with Olympic and World Champion medallists venturing to the Scottish Highlands for an action-packed August bank holiday.
Britains Olympic silver medallists Mary King (Apache Sauce) and Sarah Cutteridge (Cottage Craft Spirals) will be hoping for success along European team member Polly Stockton (Griffin III). Louisa Lockwood will be competing on two horses, Tiger Shark and Opposition Summertime.
Australias triple Olympic gold medallist, Matt Ryan will be partnering Swang Ryan and New Zealand rider, Caroline Powell, who is based in Scotland, has Ballycathro, who finished 11th at Blair last year.
David Gatherer (Aero Dynamic II) and Louisa Milne Home (Kings Berry) will be among the Scottish contingent. Horse Trials director, Sarah Philips said, I am delighted with the quantity and quality of this years entry. The Bowmore Blair Castle Horse Trials is one of the highlights of any competitors year and the team at Blair make every effort to ensure everything is just right for both riders and horses.
Both cross-country courses have undergone a revamp this year and the roads and tracks and steeplechase phases have been dropped from the 3***. We have decided to run the short format because competitors at the top end of the sport feel that this is the way eventing is developing. This has allowed us to take out one of the loops on the more hilly terrain and replace it with a new loop at the second water, said Ms Phillips.
The courses have a distinctly Scottish flavour and fences have been constructed from materials found on Atholl Estates: Course designer Ronald Alexander has come up with a new combination of stone walls and a haggis! Some new fences, however, have a more global feel. The United Arab Emirates Equestrian has sponsored a fence and Dutch boat-building specialists, Moonen have put their name to a yacht-shaped jump.
As the penultimate event in the British Eventing Premier League, competition will no doubt be hotter than ever. William Fox-Pitt is the current favourite for the £5000 stake, holding pole position on a score of 74 but Polly Stockton, Caroline Powell and Mary King, presently lying in 8th,9th and 10th position respectively, will certainly be looking to tally up some more points.
Spectators and supporters of the Bowmore Blair Castle Horse Trials, which attracted nearly 35,000 people last year, can look forward to some exciting extras this year including a massive plasma screen for cross-country viewing and real time scoring. This will enable visitors to see at a glance what is happening and who is in the lead, while an internet café will add yet another dimension to one of Scotlands most popular sporting occasions.
A huge display of entertainment including a spectacular equestrian stunt team, Country Fair, food hall and shopping village will be sure to occupy both horsey and non-horsey visitors. Old favourites such as falcons, Duck Commandos, showjumping and hunters will be on display as well as a climbing wall, pirate ship and playground.
Programme of Events
Thursday 25th August: Dressage and a Hunter and Highland Pony show.
Friday 26th August: Dressage and National Pony Society (Scotland) finals and show jumping
Saturday 27th August: cross-country day
Sunday 28th August: show jumping finale and prize giving
Tickets are now available from www.blairhorsetrials.co.uk with discounts for advance bookings.