Harry Meade: Give people one story to follow *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    How to market eventing is a constant topic of discussion and comparisons can be made with other sports such as tennis. Although the Grand Slams have subsidiary competitions such as the doubles, it’s all about the singles titles.

    It’s easy to follow the headlines — Nadal’s been knocked out, Federer is cruising through, Murray is still in…

    In eventing, it’s much easier to peddle this sort of clear-cut story when there is just one feature class. At Badminton and Burghley, it’s easy to have a vague awareness of the leaderboard — who’s gone well, who’s out of the running. I wonder if other big events could be more focused on their top class — particularly in the case of prestigious CCI3*s such as Bramham or Blenheim — which would then be easier to follow without distractions. The same goes for the Event Rider Masters series — it was the only eventing class at the latest leg at Wiesbaden, which was a great success. It works equally well at Chatsworth and Barbury, where it is the feature class.

    Sport is a narrative, with various protagonists, a defined goal and one winner at the end. From there, it becomes a snapshot of life, with competitors you support, elation and heartbreak and the struggle to come out on top.

    People need to be able to follow that one thread. If Wimbledon ran a second men’s singles competition at the same time, with some of the same players, it would be very confusing.

    At the medium and lower levels, event revenue comes largely from entries, without the gate playing much part, but at the top level eventing has a big following. Of course, some attend for the overall experience and are less interested in the competition, but we shouldn’t undersell the sport. At the top level, the event might be more compelling if we narrow our focus, rather than host a week of general equestrian activity.

    Thumbs up to Tatts

    Our children asked about going on holiday a while ago, so we said we were going camping in Ireland — the fact the destination was Tattersalls and we took three horses passed them by. With the sponsored kids’ zones, they had a fab time.

    The size of the entry shows how successful Tattersalls has become — so many people cross the Irish Sea, and European and US-based riders attended.

    The event combines warm and laid-back hospitality with the efficiency of the world’s oldest bloodstock auctioneers.

    The event has a real core with the bar in the main house between the stables and main arena. The facilities, such as the permanent stables, help make the event, but the organisers are eager to keep improving.

    Ian Stark’s cross-country courses were flowing and the questions were clear to the horses. On paper, the tracks were a little soft — there weren’t many penalties — but plenty of ditches and water made the experience educational for horses, rather than a course of mostly portables. My two-star horse started greenly, but he grew in confidence the further he went and all of mine felt better for the experience.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 8 June 2017