There will be a stellar turnout for the Atholl Estates Blair Castle Horse Trials later this month (21-24 August) as riders look to familiarise themselves with the venue ahead of next year’s European championships.
Lucy is taking her Ballindenisk Nations Cup ride Mr Chunky, who is being aimed at his first four-star at Pau (22-26 October).
“I was left with a toss-up between taking him to Blenheim or Blair,” Lucy told H&H. “Next year’s Europeans being held there tipped the balance.”
Ian Stark takes over as cross-country course-designer at Blair this year. His changes include reversing the direction of the track, softening the climb up the renowned Blair hill and digging out new water complexes.
“Obviously I would like to have made more changes this year but, budget restrictions being what they are, we are holding back for 2015,” said Ian. “It is a huge honour for me to design my first championship course on home soil — I was born in Galashiels and have been coming to Blair for more years than I can remember.
“Blair Castle is a stunning championship venue. I hope that my first course, this year, is met with approval from the riders, and look forward to surprising some of them a little if they are lucky enough to return to compete here in 2015!”
The foreign challengers will be led by young Claas Romeike (Cato), son of 2008 Olympic champion Hinrich Romeike. Claas was a member of the German team which finished second in the Nations Cup at Houghton this year.
The CIC3* has a big entry with over 70 expected to start, but the undoubted frontrunner is Opposition Buzz. Now retired from the top level, Nicola Wilson’s ride has taken this class — which brings with it the title of Scottish open champion — twice before and he relishes the hills and tight cross-country time at Blair.
Another horse who favours this unique venue is Matthew Wright’s ride Hugginstown, who will be looking for his third win in the CCI2* this year.