Blow for Scotland as long-running event bows out *H&H Plus*

  • As Eglinton Horse Trials becomes the fourth fixture north of the border to be lost from the British Eventing calendar during the past two years, H&H seeks reaction from riders and BE chief executive Jude Matthews on the news...

    One of the longest-running events in the British Eventing (BE) calendar has called time after more than 60 years – the fourth venue to leave the Scottish calendar since 2018.

    Launched in 1959, Eglinton Horse Trials held on the Barskimming Estate in Ayrshire, has announced it will no longer be running events, as organiser Heather Galbraith celebrated her 90th birthday in February and decided to “hang up her boots”.

    The event, which held the last advanced section in Scotland in 2014, had planned to run for a final time on 6 June but has been cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018 Aswanley Horse Trials and Hendersyde Park held their last BE, while Scotsburn called time in 2019.

    Eglinton assistant secretary Susan Colquhoun told H&H the event had been “immensely supported” by BE – but had faced challenges from bad weather which led to it being called it off a number of times.

    “We last ran in 2018 and it was spectacular, but then in 2019 the rain came again and we had to cancel,” she said.

    “In our heyday everyone rode here; Mark Philips, Ian Stark, Mary King. People loved the atmosphere and our volunteers became an extended family.”

    Five-star rider Louisa Milne Home, who won Eglinton’s advanced section in 2013 on King Eider, told H&H she loved riding at the event, adding Miss Galbraith was always seen assisting on the course.

    “You would know if you had a good cross-country horse at Eglinton,” she said. “It was always part of my preparation for King Eider for Burghley, it had a fence that made the Leaf Pit look like a Pony Club fence.”

    Louisa added the loss of the event will be felt by riders.

    “All the time we seem to be losing these ‘proper’ courses; Eglinton really taught you how to ride cross-country with its natural features,” she said.

    “I think we’re still pretty catered for up to novice in Scotland, but beyond that it’s become difficult – if someone wants to do one intermediate they can, but to stay tuned up at that level and to ride intermediate and above consistently, you can’t stay in Scotland to do it.”

    BE Scotland rider representative Grace Moran told H&H Eglinton was an educational course, and said it’s a “big concern” Scotland has lost so many venues.

    “It’s great competition is being replaced by some events running twice – but for educating a horse up the levels, are they going to gain enough exposure over different fences and terrains going to the same venue twice a year?” she said.

    BE chief executive Jude Matthews told H&H the organisation is “very saddened” Eglinton will no longer be running.

    “Heather and her team have done a great job, and it is a disappointment we were not able to celebrate the history of the event in its final year. All at BE thank the team for the efforts, we know the event will be missed,” she said.

    “We will work with our stakeholders in Scotland to ensure there is a balanced and viable calendar, which would include the introduction of replacement venues and dates where required.”

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