Having finally found a moment to sit and get this written in the Autumn rain, it’s hard to believe it has already been a week since I landed back at home after probably one of my favourite events of the year (although there have been a few…)
For any of you who haven’t been to Blenheim Palace itself (during the famous horse trials or not) can I please suggest that you go! It is simply stunning. From the opulence of the golden globes that sit above the Palace to the wonderful Water Terrace that begs for a moment of calm, there are treasures at every turn and I well and truly fell in love.
Now I know just how lucky I am to get to two the things I do for “work” and this weekend was no different. I get to work with some pretty cool people and perhaps some of the coolest are the RedHanded TV guys. While I was with them filming for the Event Rider Masters (ERM) show opener with the legend that is Alice Plunkett (Fox-Pitt), I got to see some of the behind the scenes areas of the Palace, which just so happened to be the birthplace of Winston Churchill and it was amazing! Having worked for a while as Visitor Services Manager at the National Trust’s Belton House near Grantham (another of Capability Brown’s greatest landscape design triumphs), I had access all areas around one of the most amazing stately homes in the Country. This included being allowed to rifle through the extensive attic rooms and I got to see some incredible antiques, letters and sketches, some of which changed the course of Great Britain’s future. It is safe to say that my curiosity about the past has only grown since then.
The 2017 SSang Yong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials was playing host to this year’s Event Rider Masters Series Finale and what a final it was. With Gemma Tattersall having already secured the Series Title, 2nd and 3rd place on the podium were still within reach for a big number of competitors and the small matter of winning Blenheim’s ERM CIC3* class was very much at the front of everyone’s minds.
As a huge eventing geek being able to spend time with Diarm Byrne from Equiratings is always fascinating and he had spotted that 29 combinations had posted sub 40 dressage scores coming into the final leg of the 2017 Event Rider Masters. Now this time last year Diarm had promised that we would have 30 in the 30s and that didn’t quite happen but last weekend, joined by 7 other combinations, Alex Hua Tian and the majestic Don Geniro became 2017’s 30th ERM dressage score in the 30s. Putting their Jardy ERM dressage test ghosts to bed, they sat in 3rd place in the Blenheim ERM field overnight on an amazing 36.4.
Perhaps the most incredible achievement of the whole series for me was new mum Jonelle Price and Classic Moet posting a very respectable 47.3. For any of us who have had children the very fact that Jonelle was back in the saddle just 3 weeks after Otis’ tricky birth is pretty phenomenal, let alone the fact that she was competing at one of the world’s toughest and most prestigious 3* events! As always her and Molly were a joy to watch and it wont be long before they are topping podiums again!
My Ones to Watch and EquiRatings pre-event tip, Izzy Taylor and the 11 year old bay gelding, Be Touchable, arrived at Blenheim on the back of their Millstreet CIC3* win. Performing an impressive dressage test and collecting numerous 9s, Izzy and Be Touchable smashed their CIC3* PB of 36.6 with an incredible 35.7 and lead from start to finish adding just 1.2 time faults to their score to take Leg 7 of the ERM.
It was lovely to see a new face at the top of the leaderboard adjust goes to show that the Event Rider Masters momentum doesn’t look to be slowing down at all… In fact, standing in front of over 200 riders, ERM CEO Chris Stone announced next year’s calendar. Including a leg in America, 3 in Europe and 3 possibly 4 in the UK, ERM is continuing to move forward, reaching millions of sports fans globally as it goes and I have everything crossed that they want little old me as part of the machine next year too!
I think I’ve said it before but seeing two of my brands successfully working together makes me very happy and this is exactly what has happened this year with Team Monart and ERM. Niall and Polly at Monart very kindly donated the ERM Owners prizes this year with a 2 night stay including breakfast for 2 at the Monart Spa, one of Conde Naste’s top 3 Spa Hotels in the world, given to the winning owner for each leg and a 2 night stay for 2, again with breakfast, but this time in the hotel’s exclusive suite for the duration of the 2017 Monart Sale, donated for the Series winning rider. The collaboration seemed to work very well for both parties and I look forward to hearing what the owners (and Gemma T) think about their stay at Monart – it really is incredibly beautiful!
Blenheim isn’t just amazing because of the world class eventing – the shopping is pretty cool too. Last year I was taken to the most amazing little stand by Alice (please be aware I spent the whole time pinching myself that actual Alice Plunkett off the tele was showing me her favourite places to shop). 64 South was our first stop then and it was mine again this year… I absolutely love their colour pops and bright twists on traditional styles and their stand didn’t disappoint this time either! Their beautifully colourful handwoven baskets are simply gorgeous and add a pop of colour to any room without losing their traditional basket charm… (www.64south.co.uk)
My next stop was to see the gorgeous gang at Mackenzie and George who sell THE most beautiful belts, hats, feathered hat pins, bags and accessories you have ever seen… They make all of their leather goods (including their stunning Windsor Clutch Bag) by hand in their family run, rural workshop in Shropshire and each piece takes it’s inspiration from British Equestrian & Countryside lifestyles. They literally only use the very best materials and vegetable tanned leathers and solid brass fittings are the cornerstones of their brand ensuring that their products stand up to the lifestyle for which they are intended! (www.mackenzieandgeorge.com)
I wouldn’t be a true countryside lover if I wasn’t ever so slightly obsessed by Fairfax and Favor. Not helped by the fact that they seem to be at EVERY event I go to (and I go to A LOT of events) my love of the brand has been enhanced by their stunning Amira over the knee boots. Looking amazing when styled with traditional white jeans and a tweed blazer or as part of a more modern country inspired outfit with a dress and beautiful fedora I am seriously struggling not to buy a pair for myself… I am saving all of my pennies as we speak! (www.fairfaxandfavor.com)
With countless other beautiful brands exhibiting at Blenheim I had to pick my favourite three this time or we would be here for hours..!
It is very safe to say that with the event season drawing to a close, I am already getting giddy about the prospect of what ERM is set to achieve in 2018, couple that with the UK hosting two of the best events in the World at Badminton an Burghley and the fact that I get to work with some of the most exciting eventing based brands around – next year is already getting me VERY VERY excited..!