TRADERS “DEVASTATED” AS EVENT TO END

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“There’s nothing else like it to reach those customers,” businesses tell ETN.

This year’s Blair Castle International Horse Trials – known to many as “Scotland’s Badminton” – will be the last.  

The event, to happen as usual on 22 – 25 August, has been running for 35 years. 

Blair’s demise follows the news that the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire has finished for good.

Blair is a four-star eventing competition with supporting classes. A busy shopping village enables businesses to reach northern equestrian consumers.

Traders “very, very sad”

Firms that trade from stands at Blair told ETN they are “devasted” – not least because there’s nothing else like it in Scotland to reach those customers. 

Louise Overhill works for Flying Changes and has her own company, Zafina, specialising in riders’ hair accessories and stocks. She worked on the firms’ joint stand at Blair last year, and plans to return for the event’s swansong in August. 

“It’s very, very sad,” she said. “We exhibited there for the first time last year after people kept saying we should go - and it was just amazing. We’re still getting orders [from Blair customers] now.”

Trading at Blair is always special, explained Louise. 

“There’s nothing else like it in Scotland,” she said, “people think nothing of travelling three hours to go there for the day. And our customers are so appreciative we’d gone up there.”

Louise was full of praise for Blair’s organisers.  

“The atmosphere was lovely, and the organisers were so helpful. They kept a generator on for us for an extra night and helped us out with wi-fi when our card machine wasn’t working.”

Events at serious risk

Sarah Clarke, who runs Finer Equine and exhibited at Blair last year, is worried for the bigger picture.

“Eventing is at serious risk if we continue to lose events,” she said. 

“For a lot of businesses, exhibiting at shows is their big driver of the year and one of main ways they can get their brands to consumers.”

It’s especially sad to see Blair disappear when the event hosted the European Championships in 2015, said Sarah who was on the HorsesScotland board at the time of the successful bid.  

“That was such an exciting time,” she said, adding that running the championships truly cemented Blair as “the flagship event for Scotland.”

“Signing off with a celebration”

Event director Alec Lochore described Blair’s imminent loss as “the end of an era.”

“We are determined to sign off with a tremendous celebration at this year’s event in August,” he said.

The only reason officially cited for Blair ending are plans to use the land on which it runs for regenerative agriculture. 

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