The centuries old setting of Glamis Castle will witness equine artistry and precision handling of the highest order in a Scottish first this weekend.
Participants from across the UK are set to converge on the Angus landmark for the first Attelage de Tradition, a continental carriage driving competition which promotes the use of carriages built more than 70 years ago and involves handlers in a range of disciplines designed to test their skill on the reins.
Over two days, a field of 24 entries comprising singles, pairs, tandem and multiple carriages will be challenged over areas including performance, turnout, skills and timekeeping.
The CIAT (Concours International d’Attelage de Tradition) event is run in 14 countries across Europe to the same strict guidelines and organisers hope the inaugural Angus event will become an annual fixture.
Richard Lanni of the British Driving Society explained that three key phases of the competition will involve presentation, the 12.5 kilometre routier test through the castle’s spectacular grounds and a maniabilite, or cones test, requiring inch-perfect carriage handling through 20 gates laid out in front of the Earls of Strathmore family seat.
The routier phase is designed to test the skills and knowledge of the driver and their ability to drive at a steady pace in normal circumstances, but along the way will be five planned difficulties to negotiate.
In the cone driving competition, obedience and agility are the watchwords, the narrowest of gates having only 30 centimetres of total clearance for the smallest of carriages.
Strict rules apply to driving attire, the presentation of horses and ponies ranging from grooming to the quality of shoeing, and the carriage itself, with the emphasis on tradition bringing a points deduction for post-1945 vehicles.
“This is the first attelage to be held in Scotland and we are hoping it may become an annual event,” said Mr Lanni.
“Glamis Castle have been very good in supporting us and the main ring will be in front of the castle, so we hope visitors will enjoy the spectacle.”
Exquisite carriages of a mechanical variety will also be on show with members of the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts’ Club set to grace the event with their vehicles.
The programme will see the presentation element of the competition take place on Saturday from 2pm, followed by an evening champagne reception and gala dinner in the castle itself.
Routier competition gets underway on Sunday morning, followed by the maniabilite tests and grand finale.