September is my favourite month of the year for all sorts of reasons – great light for photography, the autumn colours are just coming through, warm sunshine, birthdays, and not least because it’s time for Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, the last big three-day-event of the UK calendar, and one of the best to visit. As I’m free from the shackles of work for the rest of the month I’m planning to be at Blenheim every day.
Whilst officials and exhibitors were busy putting the final touches to the main site, down by the stables the sport’s fashion parade, the first horse inspection, got the competition underway this afternoon. In beautifully bright sunshine all competitors dressed up in their Sunday best, polished their horses and presented themselves to the Ground Jury & Veterinary Delegation by way of the ‘trot-up’. All passed although a few made a visit to the holding box for closer inspection.
Just about every horse I watched trot pass looked the picture of health, with glistening coats, sleek & slender physiques, all neatly plaited and creatively quarter marked.
And the riders were far from shabby too. Ben Hobday, who’s looks & charisma could easily pass him off as Eventing’s own Robbie Williams, was the smartest of the lads, whilst Lucy Jackson would not have looked out of place beside Jodie Kidd on the catwalk, and must have legs long enough to rival even William Fox-Pitt.
The CCI*** competition starts in earnest tomorrow at 9:00AM with the first round of dressage, which takes place against the backdrop of Blenheim Palace. The Blenheim event has gone from strength to strength over the years, and now holds a CIC*** for young horses which is an excellent chance to watch many of the best horses you’re likely to see over the next few years. Look back at the results from previous years and you’ll see what I mean.
Blenheim is one of my all time favourite events, a chance to catch up with old friends from oxfordshire without the pressures I’m usually under at Badminton, and relax.
Over the next four days we have 2 days of dressage, 2 days of cross country, and 2 days of showjumping, not forgetting a host of other activities and side shows. If you’re looking to spent some time outside in the sunshine, there would be no better place this week.
For a comprehensive event details and results see:
I’ll be back at Blenheim tomorrow for more and will be back with a round up. Until then here’s a few more photos: