It’s hard to believe that three months have passed since I last wrote a blog! So much has happened in that time, that I don’t really know where to begin.The main thing that has happened since then is Leeds Festival which takes place in Bramham Park on the bank holiday weekend at the end of August. 70,000 revellers descend on the Park for the Festival which is run in conjunction with – and at the same time as – Reading Festival. Thankfully, we were blessed with good weather this year unlike Reading who suffered enormously with the rain and they ended up in a quagmire. It made me very nervous – and very grateful – that the weather was kind to us as putting the Park back together again after a wet year is a huge job. It’s something that we suffered with in 2008, and since then, the weather gods have been kind to us – we just hope that continues!
The Park looked in remarkably good shape after the revellers departed, and the ground has recovered exceptionally well. It is something that we work extremely hard on and after a few weeks you wouldn’t have known that it had taken place. There are contractors on site from the end of July until the middle of September, and although they are generally no trouble, it is nice when they have all gone and the Park begins to look like the place that we all know and love again.
The Horse Trials Office is beginning to pick up speed in the planning for next year. Our main officials have been contacted and confirmed. Some of these are generally the same from year to year, but our Ground Jury members change from year to year, and there are fairly strict rules from the FEI as to who we can use, what level they have to be, and what nationality they need to be. Technical Delegates are only able to do three consecutive years in the role which means that after three great years, Alec Lochore has moved on. Alec has recently taken on the role of Eventing Manger for London 2012 so I’m sure he has enough on his plate with less than two years to go until the London Olympics. The role of Technical Delegate (TD) for Bramham in 2011 has been handed over to our friend, and previous Assistant TD, Christian Persson from Sweden, and our Assistant TD is Philip Surl. Philip is new to our team, but he has a wealth of experience as a TD, and also as a rider. He has also recently joined British Eventing as one of their Regional Coordinators.
You may think that a TD’s job is purely on Event week, however, it starts a lot sooner than that! We have just confirmed a date in December for both the TDs to meet with our Course Designer, Ian Stark, and new Course Builder, David Evans for the TDs first glimpse of next year’s cross country course. The purpose of the visit is for Ian to go through, in detail, the changes he is planning and to make sure that the TDs are happy. They will go through the type of fences, the situation, the height and width, the design and the length of the course. Factors that they will take into account are the level of competition (ie three star), the terrain, the stage of the course that each particular fence is planned etc. Although three star is the second highest level that exists in Eventing, the crucial point is that the courses are deemed horse safe and friendly…although we are in favour of a few rider frighteners!!
Ian has been to Bramham two or three times since this year’s Event, as has David. David has also had a week on site recently to do the early ground works that are crucial to ensure that the going is as good as possible next June. There are some exciting changes that Ian and David are planning, but at this stage, I’m keeping them under wraps!