Osborne House, Queen Victoria's seaside retreat on the Isle of Wight, opened its grounds to eventing for the first time this week at the inaugural London Capital & Finance Osborne Horse Trials on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 July. Here’s what we found out on our Isle of Wight away-day…
1. Osborne House, an English Heritage property, and its surrounding grounds are beautiful. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert purchased it in 1845 and plans for a new mansion began at once. Prince Albert himself worked on designs for the formal gardens which complement the house, including the walled garden and terrace.
2. Placement of fences is all important. Course-designer and builder Adrian Ditcham had been extremely clever in placing numerous fences in such a way that a view of the house was in the background of photos.
And if you didn’t have a view of the house, you probably had one of the sea…
3. Sponsored fences don’t have to be boring. Osborne’s cross-country jumps were beautifully decorated to reflect the estate’s history and also the event sponsors.
4. The Isle of Wight has its own serious event rider. Sarah Holmes, who is based in Rookley in the middle of the island, was a huge hit with the crowd. She rode a horse in each of the three classes and jumped three double clears on Dunganstown Fleur, Greenvale Coriado and Lowhill Clover.
5. Osborne House is still visited by royalty (and theatrical royalty) today. The Duchess of Cornwall and Dame Judi Dench paid a visit to Osborne on Tuesday and met Sarah and event director Stuart Buntine.
6. A historical house’s terrace is the perfect place for an eventing prize giving.
Full report from Osborne in next week’s H&H, out Thursday 2 August.