This year will be the first time the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship will take place on Scottish soil and the first time in 10 years that the British team will have home advantage going into this prestigious Championship.
The fairytale Blair Castle, situated just outside Pitlochry between Perth and Inverness, is the chosen venue. The event takes place from 10-13 September and the stage will be set to welcome Europe's best event riders. Although Blair has never hosted a senior championship previously, it has run two Young Rider European Championships (2007 and 2011); on both occasions Britain won team gold - can the seniors follow suit?
Blair Castle is a truly historic location. Dating back to 1269 this ancient seat of the Dukes of Atholl has been home to 19 generations of the Stewarts and Murrays who, over the years, have backed winners and losers, won battles and lost them. There could hardly be a more fitting setting for the most important eventing competition of the year.
Alec Lochore, the Event Director, knows Blair Castle like the back of his hand and with his experience as Eventing Manager for the 2012 London Olympic Games is ideally placed to put on the most spectacular show that Blair has ever seen.
“It's hugely exciting to be hosting the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship in Scotland – my home country. Blair Castle is a wonderful venue, with a remarkable team behind it; we will all be working extremely hard to make sure that visitors – riders, horses, volunteers, spectators, trade stand exhibitors, everyone – will enjoy a wonderful few days in the Scottish Highlands,” said Alec.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events added: “We are proud to welcome the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship 2015 to Scotland for the first time in its distinguished history and it would be hard to imagine a more fitting location for this grand occasion than the stunning Blair Castle, one of the country’s most distinctive and historic estates. Over the course of the Championship, Europe’s finest event riders will provide quite a show for the many thousands of spectators expected to gather in scenic Perthshire over four days and I’m sure they will be treated to an event to remember.”
Eventing is a three phase sport, a comprehensive test of all round ability of both horse and rider. The dressage phase demands obedience, accuracy and controlled flamboyance. This is followed by the adrenalin-charged cross country where the horses will gallop over imposing fixed fences, up and down Blair's infamous hillside. Fitness of horse and rider will be paramount, as will their courage and trust in each other.
On the final day comes the showjumping, where a single rail down can dash medal hopes. The horses need to be careful and the riders at the top of their game. Three day eventing is undoubtedly the most challenging of equestrian sports, and the riders at Blair will be among the best in the world.
In addition to the Eventing competition there will be Highland Pony, Hunter and NPS Scotland showing classes, British Showjumping and Pony Club Mounted Games. We also welcome the inaugural British Eventing BE90 and BE100 Arena Eventing Championships that is taking place at Blair Castle and Blenheim Palace, sponsored by Kent & Masters.
The Bruadar Country Fair runs alongside the equestrianism, offering non-horsey visitors plenty of entertainment with a wide range of demonstrations each day. The shopping village houses over 200 trade stands providing something for all tastes and budgets; including a fabulous Food Hall full of delicious and tempting treats. Then in the evenings visitors can enjoy the Ceilidh, live bands, disco and that all important charity whisky tasting.
A limited number of tickets are still available for what will be Scotland's biggest and most prestigious sporting event of the year. The breathtaking setting, testing terrain and warm Scottish welcome guarantee a memorable competition, both for competitors and for the thousands of spectators that will flock to Blair Atholl this September.
Tickets can be bought online through the dedicated website, www.blair2015.com