Scottish equestrian fans are celebrating today as Blair Castle in Perthshire has been announced as the host venue of the high profile FEI European Eventing Championships 2015. The British bid, backed by The Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, saw off competitive tenders from Germany, Poland, The Netherlands and Belgium to be granted the competition rights by the Bureau of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) on Friday 8 June 2012.
Identifying a desire to capitalise on the Olympic legacy, Robertson declared the bid a ‘top priority’ for the UK Government and described eventing as ‘an integral part of our sporting culture’. He commented: “The 2015 European Eventing Championships is one of the most prestigious international sports events to be staged by the UK as part of the 2012 major events sports legacy. Having been part of the presentation team, I am delighted that we have been successful and sure we will deliver a fantastic event.”
Led by British Equestrian Federation Chief Executive, Andrew Finding, the five strong bid team also included the expertise of Stuart Turner, Events Director for EventScotland; Rebecca Edser, Events Consultant at UK Sport and Alec Lochore, Event Director of the Blair Castle International Horse Trials.
The Blair Castle Horse Trials is Scotland's leading equestrian event and each year welcomes over 40,000 visitors over four days in August each year. The Atholl Estate has played host to the FEI Young Rider European Championships twice in the last five years but this is the first time a senior equestrian Championship has been awarded north of the border.
Sarah Troughton of Atholl Estates commented: “This is tremendously exciting news and we at Atholl Estates look forwards to the continued development of this great event and build on the experiences of hosting the FEI Young Riders European Championships on several occasions in recent years. We look forwards to welcoming Europe to this most spectacular and historic part of Scotland in this all important Pre Olympic year”.
The competition will bring the very best competitors in the world to our doorstep and, according to Alec Lochore, “would bring a new realm of prestige to the venue”.
He continued: “Our aim is to work with the FEI to put on a truly memorable event at Blair in 2015. We believe this would continue the legacy of 2012 and inspire a new generation of riders; it’s a tremendously exciting prospect.”
Simon Morton, Director of Major Events and International Relations at UK Sport said: “The 2015 European Eventing Championships was our main hosting target in Equestrian sport after London 2012, and so we are delighted in the bid decision.
“Not only will it have been ten years since the UK last hosted this event, the 2015 Championships are particularly important as they will be a critical qualification event for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“Having recently won bids to host World and European Championships in the UK in Athletics, Gymnastics, Triathlon, Hockey, Canoe Slalom and Squash, we're delivering on our commitment to secure a major events legacy from the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.”
Andrew Finding, Chief Executive of the British Equestrian Federation added: “No longer are Championships won on the basis of ‘Buggins’s turn’. This was hard work made so much easier with the personal support of Hugh Robertson MP who flew out to the FEI’s Offices in Lausanne to join our presentation. The team at UK Sport and EventScotland added huge practical value; I want to thank them all. It worked well and we are delighted to be going to Blair Castle in Scotland in 2015.”
Chief Executive of British Eventing Mike Etherington-Smith commented: “It is fantastic news that Blair Castle has been selected to host the European Eventing Championships in 2015. A combination of the spectacular scenery, the great venue, and the enthusiasm and ability of the organisers alongside some good old fashioned Scottish hospitality will provide a fantastic competition for everyone involved including riders, owners, grooms, spectators, and of course, sponsors. We look forward to welcoming everyone to the UK for what will be a terrific week’s sport.”
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: “Securing the 2015 European Eventing Championships is a fantastic achievement, and in Blair Castle we have a stunning venue which is familiar to the eventing community. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and with the addition of the European Eventing Championships to our upcoming portfolio; our international pedigree continues to go from strength to strength.”