Blair Castle International Horse Trials and Country Fair is on August 24-27. Gayle Ritchie checks out some of the action.
Excitement is building for Scotland’s leading equestrian event, held in the grounds of fairytale Blair Castle each August.
As well as the thrilling eventing competition, which comprises dressage, showjumping and cross country, the event will host a Highland Pony Show, Pony Club mounted games and Country Fair demonstrations, providing a raft of entertainment for the whole family.
Meanwhile, the extensive shopping village will cater for all tastes – horsey and non-horsey – with culinary delights, fashion accessories, jewellery, fine art, gourmet dog treats and country gifts just some of the things on offer.
Equestrian fans will know that British number one Oliver Townend is leading the entry field for this year’s trials.
Last year, Oliver had a sensational Blair, bringing seven horses, all of which posted top six placings, four in the top three.
Despite European Championship duties the previous week, Oliver will again enter seven horses for Blair 2017.
British riders Sarah “Cutty” Cohen, Gemma Tattersall, Emily King and Fife-based Wills Oakden are also likely to make a strong bid for the prize money, whilst Nini French – sister of British team rider Piggy – shouldn’t be overlooked.
Meanwhile, Kiwi Olympians Mark Todd and Tim Price are sure to put up a fight for the spoils.
All cross country courses have undergone changes since last year, and there are a few exciting new fences.
Event director and course designer Alec Lochore said: “I want riders to be forward thinking and positive, with combinations being both educated and prepared towards their next level. “Above all, I want horses and riders to enjoy themselves.”
As usual the Three Day Event competitors will do their dressage on Thursday and Friday, take on Blair’s unique terrain in the cross country on Saturday, and showjump in the main arena on Sunday.
Entries have also been flooding in for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance abseil challenge on the Saturday and Sunday of the horse trials.
Adventurers are invited to drop nearly 100ft from the Castle’s 13th century tower, while raising money for this essential life-saving service.
Famous for its parties, Blair will host its array of Scottish hospitality each evening of the event, with charity malt whisky tasting, a ceilidh, live band and disco as well as the onsite bar where friends can meet up to discuss the day’s events.
As ever, the food hall will be bursting with deliciousness – organic meat, fine wines, handmade chocolates, cheeses…the list goes on.
The Trials attract in excess of 37,000 visitors each August.
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