Champions were crowned, history was made and the Scottish weather gave its best. The Longines FEI European Eventing Championship 2015 at Blair Castle had all the ingredients for a thrilling competition, and so it turned out, with more than 63,000 people attending the event.
Supported by EventScotland and UK Sport, the competition, hosted by Blair Castle & Atholl Estates, saw 15 nations compete for the first time at this fairytale venue. Despite persistent rain on cross country day more than 52,000 spectators arrived through the gates over the four days to watch Germany retain its European crown and Britain fight it out for team silver. A further 11,000 athletes and team members, volunteers and trades people were also on site.
In addition to many successes achieved at Blair 2015, over 500 prospective volunteers signed up to the volunteer recruitment campaign run by British Eventing (BE) and HorseScotland on their respective trade stands throughout the event. Douglas Edward, Chair of the BE Scotland Committee said of the success of the initiative: “It was great to see how many people wanted to find out about volunteering that had never done it before or weren’t sure how to go about it. Giving people the opportunity to meet someone from BE or HorseScotland who could talk them through the benefits of volunteering seems to have had a really encouraging effect.”VisitScotland’s Director of Events, Paul Bush OBE, added: “The Longines FEI European Eventing Championship has been a huge success for Scotland, attracting impressive crowds eager to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s finest riders in action. The stunning setting of Blair Castle demonstrated just why Scotland is the perfect stage for events and we look forward to welcoming equestrian enthusiasts back to Perthshire for the Blair International Horse Trials in 2016.”
The icing on the cake this year was a visit from Her Majesty The Queen – who earlier in the week had become the UK’s longest-serving monarch. The Queen presented the prize-winners with their medals on the final day and pictures of her awarding Germany’s Michael Jung his individual gold were beamed around the world. Alec Lochore, Event Director, said: “We knew 2015 was a big year for Blair Castle and I am delighted with the overall figures, we sold tickets in 26 different countries all over the world which also supports the FEI’s decision to award this Championship to Blair. This coupled with the excellent sport we witnessed; the iconic venue and surrounding countryside, wowed many visitors whom we look forward to welcoming back again in the future.”