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What's On, Culture

The Blenheim International Horse Trials

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Katrina Midgely has, what to many must be, a dream job as Event Organiser with the team behind putting on the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials. Located in the stunning grounds of Blenheim, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the ‘three day event’ starts on Thursday 14 September with dressage and continues with cross-country and show jumping, culminating on Saturday 17 September. We were eager to learn more about Katrina and her role.

Katrina, what exactly does your role entail?

Imagine the largest symphony orchestra playing a concert on a catamaran. My role is like conducting that orchestra. All of the moving parts need bringing together to create a beautiful sound, whilst bumps and waves are crashing over them.

We’ve got a great permanent team including operations, marketing and sales teams as well as our Stable Events team. We then bring in the sports side like the technical delegates, hugely important volunteers and course designer David Evans. All elements combine and the result is a great weekend of sport and entertainment. Plus a few grey hairs for me and the team.

How did you get into your role?

I’ve always been involved in horses and was part of the Pony Club when I was younger. In fact, I am now DC for my area. This is probably why grassroots is so important to me.

I’ve got a degree in Spanish and Economics, so not that relevant to what I do now. However, I started my equine career in Ad Sales. I was an Account Manager at Horse & Hound until I had my children. From there, I ended up managing Horse & Hound’s outdoor events. This is where I dipped my toes into the water for events and found my passion. As a result of this role, I’ve seen it from both sides now, I’ve been an exhibitor and I’ve been involved as a competitor / owner, I can see how an event should be from most perspectives. I have also been involved with Crufts, Royal Windsor Horse Show, The Game Fair and Olympia.

What has been the biggest challenge so far in organising BPIHT?

You’ve got to balance the books – if you can’t make it financially sustainable it won’t survive. The outward appeal of eventing is not immediately obvious, but such is the thrill of the sport, the glamour of the event and the physical power of the horses, it is easily one of the most accessible and appealing niche sports available, where women and men compete on a level playing field. It is our role to deliver that message to sponsors and partners, but also to the wider public to ensure the longevity and success of the sport as a whole.

What is one thing that might surprise our readers when it comes to organising an event like BPIHT?

That’s a tricky one. At an event like Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, and the other events we do, you have to be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get involved – no one is too important or above cleaning the loos. There have been many nights spent doing the sublime and ridiculous, all to ensure the event goes without a hitch.

What are you most excited about for this year’s event?

I’m so excited to be part of this iconic event that is such a significant part of the eventing calendar. In particular I love the 8 & 9 year olds class. It’s very exciting as you get to see the stars of the future. BPIHT is so often a stepping stone for younger riders too, moving up to 5*, so you really are seeing the future of eventing at BPIHT.

What has been the best bit about organising BPIHT so far?

It has to be the volunteers. Horse Trials in particular survive because of the army of volunteers, we absolutely cannot underestimate the power of them. I cannot believe the phenomenal response to volunteering at BPIHT and the passion the volunteers have for the event. They are so proud of BPIHT and we value that very highly. Everyone wants to be a part of the amazing community atmosphere at BPIHT, these volunteers are prepared to work for it.

It’s also amazing working on such a beautiful estate and in stunning surroundings. Blenheim Palace is special and the perfect backdrop for the spectacle of BPIHT.

Finally, what does the event have to offer for those who don't necessarily follow eventing?. 

The location is spectacular. Just to have the opportunity to take in the views of the beautiful parkland and the Palace itself quite magnificent. Blenheim Palace provides a stunning backdrop not just for the horse trials but also the extensive shopping village, with its food and drink outlets throughout the site, as well as entertainment for all the family in the main arena and the nearby Blenheim arena.

As well as all the equestrian stands, the shopping offers some great choices from Fine Art and bespoke jewellery to luxury clothing and footwear to doggy essentials and garden lighting. There really is something for everyone. Many food and drink producers will be selling their wares too; you can try Greek Traditional Souvlaki or a take a tipple from The Pink Drinks Company. You could even stock up on delicious delicacies and take them over to the lake to have a picnic and watch the competitors and their horses go by. We can never resist a cheeky ice cream on event days!

Displays in the arenas will truly impress. Watch awesome majestic Falcons one minute, then wonder at the amazing skilled working gundog demonstrations. Don’t forget under 12s years attend for free, you can also bring your dog and have-a-go at dog agility and show off your pooch’s prowess whilst you are here.

All in all there is something for everyone at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials – well worth a visit.

bpiht.co.uk

WIN TICKETS TO BLENHEIM PALACE INTERNATIONAL HORSE TRIALS

  Win a pair of Saturday or Sunday general admission tickets to the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials held at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire from 14-17 September 2023. This world-renowned event is set to bring together some of the best horses, riders, equestrian and country enthusiasts from around the world.

Blenheim Palace will once again be transformed into a hub of equestrian activity along with many family attractions including The Shetland Pony Grand National and Dog Agility plus plenty of great shopping for foodie, equestrian and country lifestyle retail therapy. The event will feature the three challenging phases of eventing: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. With its beautiful parkland setting, the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials promises to be an unforgettable experience for all. You might even spot a future Olympian with their sights set on Paris 2024!

For your chance to win and for full terms and conditions, head over to our website oxmag.co.uk/competitions

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