Alec Lochore: March 2015

With the weather improving and a definite hint of Spring – albeit not yet in Scotland – there are ever more daylight hours for Alec Lochore, Director of Blair Castle International Horse Trials, to stride the countryside, discussing courses, layouts and logistics at the various events with which he is involved. If only the snow would disappear at Blair… 

We have had exciting times these last few weeks, particularly up at Blair Castle. I am really happy to announce that we have finalised the agreement with our official ground care partner for the Europeans. Details of this will be announced shortly, but with ground care such a key element for any big event this is undoubtedly a huge weight off my mind. Knowing that we have the right experts in place to ensure everything is as it should be means that I might get a little more sleep each night.

I’d love to tell you about our equally exciting sponsorship news, but with the ink still drying on various deals I would hate to be premature so will save that for next month.

The Blair 2015 Box Office continues to go well; demand for tickets has surpassed my most optimistic predictions which is great news. If only the last of the snow would bid us farewell for another year, I could really start ticking off some of the items on my ever-lengthening ‘To Do list’.

Of course, I am not the only one with a To Do list at Blair 2015, and I suspect there are others with equally challenging ones. Our Course Designer, Ian Stark, has been finalising the cross country course with Builder Peter Wilson; and no, I won’t be giving anything away with regards to their plans. Suffice to say it will be a true championship course, as riders will expect from Ian.

We have now appointed our host broadcaster, EPC. Their experience in the field includes the World Equestrian Games, which again is reassuring for an organiser. I can be confident that eventing enthusiasts who are unable to get to Blair Castle in September will be able to see a large part of the action from the comfort of their armchairs.

Strength in the office is building, with Sophie Pollard joining Nicky (Townshend) and Lucie (Charlton) on site. Sophie already knows the ropes, having been involved with some of the Musketeer events for the last three years. If I’m not careful I can see myself being made redundant…

Away from Blair, tickets are also selling well for both Burnham Market and Houghton Internationals. Gemma and Sam are very busy in the Norfolk office, and work continues on the courses and ground at Burnham Market, which is now less than four weeks away.

We also have a smart new Musketeer website, which I hope will make life easier for all those looking for relevant information. The old one served its purpose but this is a big step up, and the result of many late nights and weekends tied to a computer for Hils Manners, our Norfolk Press Officer.

With the new Whitfield Horse Trials and Houghton International also coming up before the end of May there is certainly no time for complacency. I was at both Badminton and Whitfield earlier this week – much work has gone on at Badminton and I think the riders will be pleased with what they find on course come the event.

Am I tempting fate? I rather feel as though a very, very large jigsaw has a lot more pieces in place than it did just one month ago. To avoid one impending disaster I did finally take action to prevent a whoopsie when en route to Whitfield. Despite frequent reminders from Emily, Sam and Gemma I finally had to accept that my ‘smart’ trousers had become rather the worse for wear, and miraculously found a spare half hour before my site meeting to dive in to Bicester Village and buy a replacement pair. The team at Whitfield don’t know how close they came to knowing me rather better than any of us would have wished for!

Obviously not every one of my waking moments revolves around Horse Trials (although it sometimes feels as though it does). Hector has a new pony, which will hopefully give him hours of fun over the next few months; meanwhile Rafe’s school hockey team have qualified for the National Finals – another proud father moment! If only last weekend’s rugby had gone as well… but bouncing back, I am looking forward to the Calcutta Cup against England. Rugby will feature more prominently in my next blog if that goes our way – for the avoidance of doubt that is ‘blue way’!