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Alec Lochore: Christmas 2014

Alec Lochore, Director of Blair Castle International Horse Trials, has had no let up in his busy schedule, progressing preparations for the FEI European Eventing Championships 2015 Blair Castle.

One downside of being so busy is that time seems to fly by, and next September is looming – exciting as this is, I think I might be driving the ‘team’ both at Blair and in my Norfolk office somewhat round the bend as they try and pin me down to keep everyone on track and up-to-date.

I talked last month about the challenges of attracting sponsorship and how delighted I was to welcome Pol Roger as our official Champagne supplier for Blair Castle 2015. It almost feels as though Christmas has come early for me as we have also secured some major sponsorship for my other events from Horsezone. The company has come to British and Irish shores from Australia, where it is the leading equine buying and selling destination. Their commitment is very good news for the sport.

At Blair Castle we are recruiting in the build-up to the Europeans and last week I had the task of reviewing some strong applications for the Sports Manager role for 2015 – interviews are in the next few days. A couple of the individuals have significant experience and a proven track record at International events, so I’m confident we will find the ideal person. The successful candidate will be looking after all the teams and team managers at Blair 2015 so it is a key position to fill. We have been reviewing the volunteer database too, given there will be a raft of different jobs to be done next year.

The ongoing challenge to maximise the site plan continues. As I mentioned last month, membership ticket sales have been suspended because we had run out of capacity – a positive problem to deal with, but with 10 months still to go, we are working really hard to find a solution that will enable us to welcome a larger number of members. We have had some success, but it is still a work in progress.

Away from my specific event responsibilities, I spent a couple of days last week on familiar turf at the Olympic Park in London. UK Sport were running an Event Managers course and it was a great opportunity to catch up with old LOCOG colleagues, many of whom now run some of the biggest sporting events in the country.

There are many similarities in what we do, regardless of the sport, so a course like this throws up lots of ideas, and as a Scottish boy living in very rural Norfolk, a trip to the city is always great fun. For one thing, it’s a treat to be walking on pavements for a couple of days, as opposed to muddy fields, given how much rain we have had in the last few weeks. I’ve had my fair share of slip-sliding around recently both when walking and re-walking the site at Blair Castle, seeking out those extra square feet.

It would be nice to think that Christmas might be restful, but with two young sons, a yard full of horses – albeit the responsibility of my wife – and at least a dozen balls all up in the air at any one time, that is probably wishful thinking. I can pretty much guarantee that it will be fun though – let’s hope for some snow and then everyone has to slow down a little!

Merry Christmas to all, and have a happy Hogmanay – slangevar.

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