The Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe runs this weekend (3-5 August) and should be a feast of top-class eventing action. Here’s how to make the most of it if you’re making the trip to Gloucestershire…
1. See top horses and riders in the Magic Millions British open
What: the feature class has a strong line-up of leading horses, including the 2016 winner Cillnabradden Evo (Oliver Townend). Oliver also rides both Ulises and his 2014 World Equestrian Games horse Black Tie II. Chris Burton will attempt to regain the title he won in 2015, this time riding Graf Liberty — time is always a factor at Gatcombe and the Aussie has the reputation of being the fastest rider in the world. Another Australian, Sam Griffiths, will be in the hunt with the 19-year-old Happy Times, who is now enjoying the one-day circuit after a successful four-star career. Gemma Tattersall has withdrawn 2017 British open champion Arctic Soul as she is focused on Burghley or the World Equestrian Games and is happy with his preparation — “This boy owes us nothing and he prefers soft ground,” she said.
When: the British open dressage is from 10am on Saturday, with the showjumping from 11am on Sunday and the cross-country in the afternoon.
2. Spot a star of the future in the Smith & Williamson British intermediate championship
What: this class often highlights horses who will go on to great things. For example, Land Vision, who won it in 2008 under Oliver Townend, went on to triumph at Badminton with Mark Todd. William Fox-Pitt’s Badminton and Burghley winner Tamarillo is a former British intermediate champion too. William has won this class six times, so his ride this time — the Kannan eight-year-old Yes I Can — could be one to watch.
When: the British intermediate championship dressage is from 9am on Friday, with the showjumping from 10.45am on Saturday and the cross-country following on from 1.10pm.
3. Shop til you drop
What: there are well over 100 tradestands at Gatcombe so whether you need a coat, a saddle, a horsebox, a belt, a book, some dog food or a necklace, you’ll be sure to find it here.
When: all day, every day
4. Enjoy the arena attractions
What: there is a whole selection of things to see in the main arena — the Shetland pony grand national, the Devil’s Horsemen, dressage to music display, Pony Club mounted games, the Royal Agricultural University beagles and the Duke of Beaufort’s hounds.
When: from 2pm onwards in the main arena on Saturday and Sunday.
5. Buy something boozy
What: a number of alcohol companies are included in the trade stand list, so whether you want a present for a friend or a present for yourself, you can pick up a naughty tipple. Gin and wine lovers are particularly in luck — pick from these options: Gun Dog Gin (stand 88), Hannibal Brown Wines (stand 96), Pinkster Gin (stand 56), Sas Les Vignobles Guindeuil Bertrand Guindeuil (Bordeaux wines, stand 78) and Shawbury Wine (stand 21).
When: when you get thirsty…
6. Do a good deed
What: a number of charitable organisations have stands at Gatcombe. Why not pop along, enter a competition, buy some merchandise or find out how you can support them? Those present include Brooke (stand 115), Cotswold Riding for the Disabled (stand 84), Forever Hounds Trust (stand 113), Help A Hedgehog Hospital (stand 116), Horseworld Trust (stand 71), Retraining of Racehorses (stand 129), Stroud Cats Protection (stand 114), British Horse Society (stand 117) and Woodland Trust (stand 127).
When: any time across the three days.
7. Have fun with your dog
What: if you’re bringing your canine friend to Gatcombe, you can try out “have a go” dog agility or enter the fun dog show in the Harringtons Arena. As always at horse shows, make sure you keep your dog on a lead to avoid him chasing horses and never leave a dog shut in a car.
When: “have a go” dog agility runs from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. The fun dog show also takes place both weekend days — you can enter the following classes: 11am most handsome dog; 11.30am prettiest bitch; noon best rescue; 12.30pm best veteran; 1pm best child handler (7-12 years old); 1.30pm best in show.
Tickets can be bought online in advance via this link. Advanced prices start at £15 for Friday or £23 for Saturday or Sunday when bought by Friday 26 July. Car parking is free and children aged 12 and under may enter with charge. Gates open at 8am with the shopping village open from 9am each day. Dogs on leads are welcome.
Don’t miss the full report from the Festival of British Eventing in H&H next week, issue dated 9 August.