Saturday, March 12, 2011

A brief spectators guide to eventing.

Looking through the schedules on the BE website may tell you all you need to know as a competitor but what about spectators?  Which events are good to watch and which probably aren't the best for an action packed day of XC viewing.

Well, let's start a the top with Badminton.  The world's most famous CCI**** and now with new qualifying criteria so the level of competition is even higher.  Plus, this year being pre Olympics the number of foreign riders is astounding, including a large number from across the pond.  At around $4000 to fly a horse across the Atlantic it's only the very best of US and Canadian eventing that ever come to Badminton.  XC day tickets can be bought on the day for CASH (no debit cards etc) but it's cheaper to buy in advance.  The showjumping always gets fully booked very quickly so you need to get in there quick! Set in the stunning grounds of Badminton house and with some excellent viewing spots this really is a good one to take Gran to.  If you're lucky you might get on TV as well!!

 The festival of british eventing at Gatcombe is also an action packed weekend including the novice, intermediate and Open championships as well as some age classes there's never a shortage of rounds to watch.  Points on the course give good viewing of decent stretches of the course so you can have a rest and watch the event unfold.

I should also add that both Badminton and Gatcombe are huge shopping events as well as the eventing there.

Burghley later in the year is also a good bet.  Of course there's the usual discussion that Burghley XC may well be bigger than Badminton's so you could always go to both and see for yourself...

Blenheim now also has an 8+9yo *** class along side it's 2 normal *** classes so you get the opportunity to see a lot of high level action.  Whats more, Blenheim house is also pretty snazzy.

Looking further north.  Blair castle is huge fun.  Not only does it have international level competition right up to CCI*** but it also hosts a very popular showjumping show.  It also has a huge country fair on at the some time, one of the biggest in the country actually.  On top of all that, you can absail down the castle tower - ask equishopping's director about that particualr activity! Blair won a highly prestigious award from BETA a few years back for being a fabulous show case of equestrianism.  Equishopping also sponsor Blair and we reckon this year it will be even better!

Lower level events such as Weston Park also make fabulous entertainment and might be closer to you as well.  You'd be surprised how interesting and possibly scary it is for someone who has never seen eventing to watch even an intermediate class.  Happy spectating!!

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