Will the grassroots eventers’ challenge return to Blenheim? New organisers reveal their plans

  • The new organisers of Blenheim Horse Trials hope to reinstate the grassroots eventers’ challenge and bring their expertise in running other outdoor events to the fixture.

    Stable Events Ltd – a company comprising many of the team who ran the last game fair at Blenheim in 2014, and which now runs three other game fairs in England, Scotland and Wales – will take over as the Oxfordshire event’s new organisers for the 2023 fixture (14–17 September). They replace The Jockey Club, which ran the event in 2021 and 2022.

    Katrina Midgley, features and content manager at Stable Events, has been appointed as event organiser. She has an equestrian background – she previously worked on advertising, sales and trade stands for Horse & Hound and its sister titles Country Life and The Field, her daughter evented to novice level and she is the district commissioner of the Enfield Chace branch of the Pony Club.

    “I was delighted at the opportunity to work alongside Blenheim Palace and British Eventing to breathe new life in to the trials. I will be supported by Stable Events’ senior management team who have over 250 years’ event experience and are true experts in their field,” said Mrs Midgley, adding that Stable Events has had a keen eye on Blenheim Horse Trials for a number of years and saw the potential of the event prior to its term with The Jockey Club.

    Mrs Midgley said Stable Events’ speciality is running events “usually in fields with little to no infrastructure” and outlined their knowledge in areas such as trade stands and traffic flow, plus the game fairs’ similar demographic audience to horse trials.

    “We have meetings this week with well-known experts who will make sure the horse trials part runs smoothly,” she said, adding that key personel will be announced as soon as possible.

    “Our expertise will be in developing the showground and attractions. The sport is the reason people come, but the overall visitor experience does not end there.”

    Blenheim Horse Trials new organisers’ plans: grassroots and more

    Mrs Midgley said the Blenheim Horse Trials new organisers are keen to bring back a grassroots element to the horse trials, potentially in the form of the eventers’ challenge, which used to run alongside the event.

    “Riding Club, Pony Club and the grassroots are a valuable audience to this event and valuable to the future of the sport. So it’s a way of giving back a bit,” she said.

    She would like to look at offering lakeside parking again, to bring the event a “festival feel”.

    Stable Events also runs the LAPADA art, design and antiques fair in Berkeley Square, London, and Mrs Midgley says this event could be a potential partner for Blenheim.

    “We could have an equestrian art pavilion at Blenheim Horse Trials – there’s lots of links and we can intertwine things that we can draw from our other events. These additions will enhance the event, while ensuring top-class equestrian sport is at its core,” she said.

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