Nicky Townshend: October 2014

Nicky Townshend, Assistant Director of Blair Castle International Horse Trials, updates us as work continues to prepare for the FEI European Eventing Championships

This year’s event, which took place in August, was very useful in terms of trying out new ideas and new contractors. For the contractors, they also got a feel for the site and how things might work next year.

The girls and I put the 2014 event to bed and we immediately started taking applications from volunteers for next year. We always need a lot of volunteers and this is going to be even more of a consideration for the Europeans, with a much wider range of roles needing to be filled.

There has been a really positive uptake on ticket sales and, notably, Membership passes, which is great news. It does, of course, mean that we will need a larger Members Marquee, snaffling some of the valuable frontage, but it’s great that so many of our die-hard supporters have committed to come. Bookings for the tipis and yurts are also going strongly; we have already taken more bookings than we sold in total for this year’s event.

We have had a large number of trade stand enquiries from companies wanting to attend next year, and we are sure to have a significant wait list by next summer. With extra structures, such as the grandstands, TV commentary positions and big screens taking up considerable space, the team are having to look very carefully at the site layout to try and maximise the space available.

We know very well that alongside top class competition spectators want suitable parking, a sufficient number of good quality food outlets, decent shopping and enough loos. With such support already pledged we can’t fail to confront the fact that we will need a new traffic management plan: how to get the number of spectators expected in, and out, particularly on cross country day, and where can we open up new car parks. It’s safe to say that regular visitors next year will recognise parts of the layout but there will inevitably be changes as we as we fit so much more into a restricted number of acres.

This month we are focussing on sponsors, both existing and new, sorting out all of the details of agreements. We also need to finish the site plan so that the application packs can go out to trade exhibitors, and we need to firm up bookings with our key contractors – how many shower blocks may we need, how many generators, that sort of thing. We have already reserved the stabling required for the show jumpers and showing horses.

Alec Lochore and Ian Stark have recently had a more detailed walk around the cross country course, finalising routes and where certain jumps will sit. The TV guys then came up to look at possible camera angles, and were really excited about the beauty of the place – everyone is so full of enthusiasm, it’s going to be a wonderful event.