If you are going to the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair this week (10-13 September) make sure you read our guide on how to make the most of your time in Scotland.
1. Walk the course
This is an obvious one, but Blair’s terrain is likely to be very different to anything you have seen before, with the horses climbing steeply into the Scottish hills. With Ian Stark designing and one of his typically big, bold courses expected, this should be a true cross-country competition — and you’ll want to fully understand what the riders are taking on.
2. Visit The House of Bruar, just 10 minutes drive from Blair
Selling itself as the leading Scottish country clothing specialist, this is a shopping opportunity extraordinaire. There is menswear, ladieswear, a present shop and everything you need for country sports, as well as a gallery and a food hall. Visit: www.houseofbruar.com
3. Buy H&H’s preview, out now in the magazine dated Thursday, 3 Septmber
Get a look at the course — so you know what to watch out for when you walk it — plus Andrew Hoy’s expert opinion on the track. Also find out all about the British and Irish squad riders and who are their hot competition.
4. Go to a horse inspection
The trot-ups on Wednesday (provisionally 3pm) and Sunday (provisionally 9.15am) are a fascinating opportunity to see the horses competing without the disguise of their tack or a rider. You will marvel at the many shapes and sizes of equine representing their country at senior European Championship level.
5. Enjoy the evening entertainment
Wednesday evening is a welcoming ceremony, on Thursday there’s a ceilidh (Scottish dancing), Friday is all about whisky tasting and a live band, while Saturday hosts the traditional post cross-country disco. Full details: www.blair2015.com/evening-entertainment
6. Eat at Victoria’s Restaurant, Pitlochry
I’ll probably be in trouble for revealing this gem as the restaurant will be packed out and we won’t be able to get in ourselves, but the food is great. In fact, I’m off to book my table now before you get a chance…Visit: www.victorias-pitlochry.co.uk
7. Go shopping on site
There are over 200 tradestands at Blair, so if The House of Bruar hasn’t satisfied your need for retail therapy, get stuck in. Full list of tradestands here: www.blair2015.com/shopping-village
8. Take a look at the Bruadar Country Fair
You will find attractions such as falconry, musical Clydesdales and guide dog displays: www.blair2015.com/bruadar-country-fair
9. Bring wellies. Bring coats
We all hope it won’t, but when it rains in Scotland, it really rains. I know you may be flying up, I know baggage allowance is tight, but you’ll probably thank me for the advice. If necessary, fly in your wellies/Dubarrys. It works for me.
10. Check out the other competitions going on
From the arena eventing finals to Highland Ponies, the hunter show, British Showjumping and Pony Club mounted games, the European Championship medals are not the only honours being fought over this week.
11. Go inside the castle
Home to the Dukes and Earls of Atholl, this beautiful building dates from the 13th century. Learn how Queen Victoria’s stay led to the creation of Europe’s only private army still in existence today, the Atholl Highlanders. Visit: www.blair-castle.co.uk
12. Eat a flat sausage (real name lorne sausage)
You know how when you get a sausage in a bun, unless it’s a long thing hotdog bun, the sausage is the wrong shape for the bun? Scotland has the answer. Flat sausages. Genius.