Director’s Blog (2010 Archive)
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 15:33 BST
DIRECTOR'S BLOG - ELIZABETH INMAN - TUESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER
We’ve finally arrived at our destination and what a wonderful week; a great competition with a very deserving winner, lovely weather drawing record crowds, happy trade exhibitors and to top it all renewal of Land Rover’s title sponsorship for another three years. We had our ups and downs along the way; not least a bad fall on Saturday’s cross country phase. The competition was delayed for a while as the medical team attended to the injured rider, who was eventually air-lifted off site. When the competitor’s safe return home, after a night in hospital, was announced at the Horse Inspection on Sunday the cheer from the crowd was deafening and all’s well that ends well.
It was an exciting final jumping phase, and with only one fence between the top three competitors, everyone held their breath as the overnight winner, Caroline Powell on her lovely little grey horse ‘Lenamore’, came into the Arena. Victory at last, the combination first completed Burghley in 2005 and now at 17 years old it was very fitting that he was now ‘the champion’!
It is 10 years since we have had a New Zealand winner and as the parade of competitors commenced my mind went into over-drive as to whether the military band had been given an up to date list of nations competing in readiness for the National Anthem. I need not have worried as the band struck up and as I looked across the Main Arena, I reflected on what a great event it had been and breathed a sigh of relief that it had all ended safely and successfully. Despite meticulous planning in all departments, so much can go wrong through no-one’s fault and there will not be an event organiser in the country who is not alert to this until the very last car has safely left.
Land Rover always hold a Reception at the end of the competition for the prize winners and as the last few guests leave and the pressures of the last few days ease an enormous sense of tiredness overcomes the administration team. However, there is still work to be done and I went along to thank our press officer, Bridget Jennings and her team. They have done an amazing job this year and the media coverage of the event has been superb. One of the team, Ady, had just been stung on her lip by a wasp. A real stalwart she was not intending to do anything about it, but she had a long journey home that night and our Chief Medical Officer sent her off to the Red Cross for some treatment – again a timely reminder that we cannot relax until the last person is off site.
Talking of which, CTM our car parking firm, have done a marvellous job. The expression, ‘five P’s’ (prior planning prevents poor performance), springs to mind when I look back on their attention to detail. Their first input of the present traffic management plan commenced in 2009 and was taken a stage further this year. After initial teething problems on the first day, overall the traffic arrangements have to be one of the major successes of the 2010 Event. CTM’s Director has worked at Burghley for almost as long as I can remember, and was instrumental in developing and implementing the one-way systems in place this year. So far almost universal approval has been received, although inevitably there will be a few people who were unavoidably inconvenienced over the weekend. Overall, managing the volume of traffic we get through our gates over the four days, including contractors, trade exhibitors and competitors, in addition to our daily visitors is a mammoth task. On the day the implementation of this plan is down to a real team effort which includes superb support from Cambridgeshire police traffic officers, who monitor the external routes, Lincolnshire police who help within the town of Stamford, TMS our signage contractor are all monitored on my behalf by our great team of ‘bowler hat’ stewards – thank you all!
Good bye’s and thank you’s abound, including to the regular girls who thankfully come back each year to help in the Secretary’s Office. I have hardly had time to say two words to them over the week of the event, but I know they will be back next year looking as glamorous as ever!
The temporary portacabins, which have been their base for the last week, are due to be returned to the depot in the next few days and all the equipment, loaded up barely a week ago from our permanent offices, had to be returned. Computers, files, phones, stationary, empty boxes previously holding rosettes and prizes, and much more besides. Amongst all these items it is hoped we will find the missing radios and earpieces which have gone astray. At the beginning of the week everyone is well disciplined in daily logging in and out, but understandably many of our officials are keen to ‘get on the road’ on Sunday evening and accidently ‘forget’ to return various items to us. History tells me that over the forthcoming weeks miscellaneous deliveries will be received in the office!
I hardly dared ask our latest recruit to the permanent office administration if she had enjoyed the event. Sophie joined us in June and hit the ground running and has not stopped since. Having previously worked for the Burghley Estate as ‘Assistant Agent‘ Sophie is no stranger to the Horse Trials, but admitted she had no perception of how complex the event is. Most importantly for me, she had enjoyed every minute of this year’s Event and cannot wait to get started on 2011!
It’s now Monday and everyone has that ‘morning after’ feeling with still a mass of tidying up to do. I have just arrived back from the showground and the clearance is going well. The weather is still good, although the forecast for the remainder of the week is unsettled. I am hopeful the site contractors will make good progress today and tomorrow, although it will be a month before everything is totally cleared. The grandstand is nearly down, and the tradestand tentage is being loaded up. Much effort will be made to put things away tidily - the intention is always there - and I know ‘”where there’s a will there’s a way”, few people could appreciate how much the event week takes out of everyone and there is still much to do. All the ‘hoop signs’ have just been returned to the stables and need sorting – literally hundreds of them. Philip has made a new trailer for them and Anne has promised him they will all be stored neatly in categories – it will make life so much easier next year, when we come to put them out again.
I have spoken to our TV producer this morning for an update on Burghley TV which has been immensely popular and people are still registering. For those of you who may be interested do look at this – it is on the home page of our website. Video clips of the competitors are available until the end of September and it will cost you nothing to view, just a few minutes to register.
In the office ticket audits are due to commence shortly, and invoices are already flooding in. Thank you letters to our many helpers and the cycle for next year has already commenced.
Right now I have just received a call from our Clerk of the Course, Philip, to go and meet with someone from the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute), who have been monitoring our ground for several years to use as a benchmark for the cross country track for Greenwich in 2012, so I have to draw this to a close.
I hope you have all enjoyed a small insight into ‘behind the scenes’ at Burghley. Next year will be as special as ever when we celebrate our 50th anniversary and we look forward to seeing you during 1st – 4th September 2011.
Saturday, September 04, 2010 10:11 BST
DIRECTOR'S BLOG - ELIZABETH INMAN - SATURDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 2010
The week has gone well so far, two days of perfect weather, record crowds and a top class competition. A major concern in the lead up to the event was how our new exhibitors parking area was going to run, as despite much advance planning it was obvious this would have a major impact on everyone. Thankfully everything seems ‘relatively’ OK, but we have had the benefit of fine weather. No doubt when we have collected our thoughts post event there will be tweaks to before 2011.
Thursday is always a popular day at Ring 2 where the Pony Club team jumping takes place. I knew I should have gone incognito when I went down to see how they were getting on – I struggled to answer a simple question as to ‘where had the photographer moved to?’ Competing in this competition is understandably a highlight for these young competitors and they want to have a memento of the day – what better than a photo of their team in front of Burghley House. A quick call to the competition secretary who of course did know where he was located and all is resolved!
Something must have gone right as I had time this year to drive round the cross country with Philip Herbert and site all the fast food and ice cream positions. Potentially a bone of contention on Saturday morning if located incorrectly as they get into camera view, or block pedestrian crossings – there are many elements to consider. Using spray paint is not one of my fortes; believe it or not there is a technique and I seemed to amuse those present by my efforts – I decided to delegate this to Philip (much to his relief). He always pulls my leg about my navigational skills (or lack of) when we are driving around the park throughout the year as I have to turn the map around to fit the way we are going – seems straightforward to me.
The annual cocktail party was held in Burghley House on Thursday evening which is primarily for the competitors and owners. We have twelve nations competing at Burghley and they were thrilled to have the opportunity to take in such magnificent surroundings. Following on from this we dashed off to an enjoyable supper for the riders held in the Members’ Enclosure. As I drove back through the stables, the party for the grooms in the stables restaurant was in full swing – I was only too pleased to be able to get to bed.
I did my usual drive round the Park early on Friday morning. It was very misty and as I drove past the Members’ Caravan Park a few people were making their way to the shower blocks to beat the rush. I realised I was being tracked by Tim Henson, our site manager, so stopped for a quick catch up and touched on the traffic problems encountered the previous evening. Our new traffic management plan had not taken into account that the one way system did not permit access, from Stamford, to the George Hotel and staff and guests had to follow a diverted route. Not good, but a solution found. The George Hotel is as much a ‘part of the Horse Trials’ as anything else and traditionally all our guests and officials stay here. Everyone loves it as we are so well looked after. General Manager Chris Pitman and his wife Mary always bake two enormous cakes for the winner of the event. One for the rider and one for the horse, the latter with mints, carrots and sugar– they are amazing and always greatly admired!
The exhibitors have done a roaring trade and the celebrity talk show area was heaving yesterday when I went down with our TD, Alec Lahore, to say a few words about how the event was running. No time for the ‘to do list’ as the rest of the morning was taken over by radio interviews and other press commitments. Much in preparation for the announcement of Land Rover’s sponsorship renewal for another three year term which will take us up to 2013. There was great excitement all round when this was made official at yesterday’s evening press conference.
Thankfully the new lay-out put in place for the Young Event Horse classes were well received – we have expanded the ring and included a few cross country type fences. I have not yet had an opportunity to talk to the judges but gather there were some lovely horses in the Finals.
We have received much support from our local police this year – Burghley sits on the border of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire and both forces are involved. Additionally we also have representation from the City of London and Essex mounted branches. Our Bronze Commander said yesterday it was great to be greeted by happy smiling faces when they walked around - everyone enjoying themselves. I suspect a change from some of the other duties they perform.
It’s now Saturday morning, so by necessity this blog will not be much longer – it’s 6.00 am and I was trying to get a little peace and quiet. Some hope - Jonathan Clissold having seen my light on has just knocked on the office door suggesting we might drive round the XC for a last minute recce. Decided it would be best to finish our respective tasks, his being to set all the clocks and watches for the day. The Fence Judge Briefing, postponed last Sunday, is being held at 8am this morning, so there is still much to do. I’ve also got to get my vehicle re-fuelled, Merv, who is IC for all vehicles during the event, has just taken the keys – and I hope will be back soon. I feel quite lost without it and hope I have not left anything crucial in it that I will want in the next 15 minutes. During the Event I use it like an enormous suitcase and briefcase all rolled into one.
Hopefully when I write again we will have had another good day at Burghley!
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 14:07 BST
DIRECTOR'S BLOG - ELIZABETH INMAN - MONDAY 30 AUGUST 2010
Sunday was relatively quiet. The day was bright, with a strong drying wind. The new trade exhibitors’ park was marked out on Saturday. We were not quite sure how best to do this and it will not be until after the Event that we can review how it worked and where we need to fine-tune for the future. A certain amount of flexibility will be required from all parties when the exhibitors start to arrive and pull up to their individual pitches. Our new steward for this area, Nigel, is well practiced at other events, including Badminton, so he knows the traders well and they will have a welcoming face to greet them. Bob Lamb, our Members’ Caravan Steward, having helped Nigel mark out the exhibitors’ site moved up to the Members’ Caravan Park where he is IC for the week and by Sunday evening this had also all been marked out. Again there were several caravan members who had arrived early and twisted Bob’s arm to allow them on site. When I went to see Bob, John Clarke; who with his family has undertaken all the plumbing requirements at our event for as far back as I can remember; was busy re-positioning some pipework previously put in for the temporary showers. Bob said it was in the way, so ever helpful it was re-laid without a murmur from John and his brother Pete. That’s what makes Burghley special, everyone pulls together, always willing to make it work despite having a hundred and one other jobs to do in such a short space of time now.
In the afternoon I drove along the competitors’ route from the stables to the Collecting Ring, our stable staff had put out the hoop signs indicating the route and I made a mental note that several may require a facelift and will need renewing next year - I normally carry a small tape machine with me as there are so many things that happen in a day and I can note them as they crop up. For the first hour or so you mentally retain them in your head and then information overload takes over. The practice dressage arenas are marked out with the finishing touches being put to the dressage arena in the Main Ring. All that is left now is for the flowers to be placed around it and for the centre line to be mown. George Bates, now retired, but who previously worked on the Estate for many years, always undertakes this task. I dread the day when he wishes to stand-down from this duty – it must be so easy to make an error and there is only one bite at the cherry when undertaking something of this nature.
Due to the wet conditions underfoot earlier in the week, we postponed our fence judge briefing, to protect the ground around the cross country course. The briefing normally takes place on the Sunday morning. Having spoken to Philip (Clerk of the Course) we decided it was too much of a risk as everyone, after an initial briefing, drives to their respective fences on the cross country to familiarise themselves with the surroundings, check emergency access routes, meet with Red Cross and St John personnel and where needed additional individual briefings take place at the complex combination fences. This change of plan involved a lot of work for Anne, when she already had much to do. Over 120 people had to be notified, within 48 hours preceding the Bank Holiday. In addition she had to post all their passes which they normally pick up at the briefing. Thank goodness for email, but the following morning Anne still had to phone about 20 who had not confirmed receipt of the communication.
For me, not having the briefing on Sunday was a bonus and I could catch up on a few last minute tasks, including checking some of the internal and external road signs. The majority of external road signs are not placed until late Monday. As several changes have been made this year to the traffic management plan we had agreed the relevant signs would be erected in plenty of time. I was pleased they were all present and correct, including those asking our visitors to drive with care through the local villages. Although The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is probably the biggest event in our county (according to an independent economic impact survey undertaken in 2004, brings in circa. £16.3m to the local economy), I can appreciate a degree of frustration from the local residents when a steady stream of traffic flows past their windows over the entire weekend. Fortunately most people are very proud of the event and the impact of attracting around 150,000 people to the area cannot be under-estimated. All the hotels and B&B’s within miles are fully booked year-on-year and we know that many of our visitors come back to visit Stamford later in the year when the Event is over.
Bank Holiday Monday has now arrived, but as Philip (Clerk of the Course) once told me ‘Bank Holiday’s are only for people with ‘normal jobs’. The show ground is a buzz with contractors and others completing their tasks. The hanging baskets and flower decorations were being watered earlier today. Unbelievable, only last week we had too much rain and now it is like mid summer. I have just driven up to the ‘Maltings Fence’ on the cross country, where HSBC have sponsored a mini grandstand overlooking their fence. It looks great and I think the area will be a popular stop-off point as this is also a fast food area. Not far from this fence are the Rolex Corners, so I dropped by to see if the floral decoration had been completed. The green and gold colour scheme – Rolex colours - has been very smart in past years, but so far nothing is in place. Another job for tomorrow.
Nearby the Land Rover crew are completing the Land Rover terrapod. This overlooks the lake and is a mini off-road driving experience, which has proved popular with our more macho visitors over the years. Make sure you visit it, adjacent to Lion Bridge. Land Rover will also have a presence at the front of the public car park overlooking one of their fences, ‘Discovery Valley’. Visitors with a Land Rover key fob will be welcome to drop by for light refreshment, perfect on Saturday when people are walking the course.
Our officials are arriving; already our shadow technical delegate has flown in from Australia. It is his first trip to the UK and he and his wife are off to visit Burghley House this afternoon. Captain Mark Phillips has just arrived; he flew into the UK from Chicago and drove straight on to Burghley. When I last saw him he was discussing the positioning of some fir trees in the bottom of the Leaf Pit, to address some technical requirements for the competition.
Our TD, Alec Lochore is travelling down from Scotland where Blair Horse Trials, the event he organises, has just finished. We are due to meet tonight for a quick supper then retiring early to recharge the batteries before a busy week ahead. This very second he has phoned me to let me know there are three stray deer in the Collecting Ring. They must have escaped being rounded up into their enclosure for the week of the event. As they are in the collecting ring, despite all the activity around them, I wonder if they are the ones I wrote about last week. This must be their favourite territory, normally shy by nature it is strange with all the activity going on that they have not moved to somewhere quieter in the Park. I am not sure what we are going to do about them. My first port of call will be to phone the gamekeeper to see if he can coax them to another area of the park. So once again duty calls – this is definitely not a ‘normal job’ just a Bank Holiday weekend!
Saturday, August 28, 2010 10:56 BST
DIRECTORS BLOG – ELIZABETH INMAN – FRIDAY 27 AUGUST 2010
So much can happen in 24 hours. We didn’t have to watch the national news to realise that RAF Wittering, not 5 minutes from Burghley, had the highest rainfall in the country yesterday. To be precise 38mm in 24 hours, as I was reliably informed by Velcourt Farms early this morning when I dropped by to see the Farm Director and Manager. We always keep in close contact with Brian and Jason, who between them have helped us out on many occasions when the weather has been dire. They have the strongest towing equipment we could ever want and the most helpful and supportive drivers. Given the conditions underfoot I thought it might be wise to register a request for some towing power at the Stables where the horseboxes will shortly be arriving. We have just about managed to get in the 40 or so caravans that we hire in annually for the competitors, grooms and officials, having laid some temporary tracking down purely for this exercise. Our stables’ caravan steward, Harry Coleman, is mightily relieved as he has been able to start checking them all – down to the smallest detail – he even puts air fresheners in them. I have just looked up from my writing and see that Mick Varley, our Stable Manager, has arrived. He will shortly be studying all Anne’s notes setting out which horses are to go where, what bedding they want, and a mass of other requirements – what would we do without him.
We have decided to postpone the fence judges’ briefing this weekend to ensure the cross country course is given every chance to dry before our big day. I think the only person happy with the rain is our Clerk of the Course Philip Herbert, who with our team of course builders has spent much of this summer irrigating the track to ensure it is up to Burghley standard and in fact we could not wish for better ‘going’ on the course right now. So different to the showground - our Site Steward Michael Woodhouse blames it all on Philip and said grumpily this morning that it was all his fault as he had been praying for rain for his cross country course for the last 6 weeks – you can’t please everyone in this job. Michael is one of our lynch pins, he starts work every year about 2 months before Burghley; marking out the trade area, having spent much time over the winter months discussing the showground lay-out with myself and Jacqueline, who is in charge of the tradestands. It is amazing how everything changes from year to year in the Burghley parkland – trees grow in height and width, some trees are felled but others are planted and the landscape continually evolves – so we have to remain alert as to how best use these opportunities. Now the event is upon us Michael and his assistant Chris Barnett, are fully stretched. The last portacabins are arriving, scaffolding is still being erected, Sponsors’ boards and banners are going up everywhere, too rapidly for me to keep up with them – I always check the positioning, especially if television coverage has to be considered. All this (and much more besides) runs smoothly when the weather is kind, but given the present conditions much care has to be taken to stop vehicles driving un-necessarily on the grass which could soon cut up. The weather forecast is really good for next week so these last minute efforts are important to ensure everything is well presented when we open the gates to our guests, including our 4 legged equestrian visitors, some coming from far afield.
This morning I met our President, Miranda Rock, to run through our respective timetables for the forthcoming week. We may struggle to fit in all the guests invited for the President’s lunches. Tomorrow I must check the President’s and Official Box in the grandstand as following our conversation I am becoming a little concerned that more invitations than seats may have been allocated as well! Ever the optimist I am sure it will not be unsolvable.
Lindsey has just brought in some articles of clothing from our new Burghley range, which unashamedly I am going to promote to you. Please be sure to visit Stand No A36 ‘Burghley the Collection’ and see for yourself. All summer we have been looking at designs and colours forwarded to us by email and now I have seen the real article – they are a ‘must’!
We made a decision this morning to change the venue for our doctor’s training day. This usually takes place in the Members’ Enclosure the weekend before Burghley when they get together and practice dealing with accident scenarios. Again due to the inclement weather we decided we did not want all their cars driving around the Members’ Lawn area. Doctors are not renowned for their off-road driving skills - I say this despite my brother being our chief medical officer, but none of them will read this so I think I am quite safe! We have decided the best place will be in the Stables Restaurant. It seemed a good idea at the time, but we now realise there is no electricity or furniture – all planned to be installed for next week in time for the competitors. Poor Katherine, whilst ploughing through the programme proofs hoping to get most of them to the printers before Bank Holiday, has had to break off and sort all this.
Confirmation was received this afternoon that all our radio boost masts have been installed, and we have just taken the first delivery of about 25 radios. In total we have over 200 but we have asked for an early delivery to ease communication for our site team over the weekend. From Monday onwards the trade exhibitors’ vehicles will start to arrive – then the fun really begins. Hopefully the ground will be drying well by then as they will all want to stock their stands. It will be so difficult to co-ordinate them all to avoid damage to the ground – I expect there will be a few frayed tempers, so it will be important to retain a sense of humour!
I have just broken off for a radio interview, and was questioned how the preparations were going – I suspected they could have little idea of just what goes on behind the scenes. But that’s what organising shows and events is all about, all our visitors have come to enjoy themselves and I am hopeful this year’s Burghley will prove no exception.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 17:28 BST
Directors Blog – Elizabeth Inman – Wednesday 25 August 2010
I cannot believe it’s 375 days since I wrote my first ever ‘blog’ and so much has happened in that time. All the usual preparatory work over the winter, which everyone takes for granted but which is vitally important as it forms the foundation for the year. The list is lengthy but includes; pricing strategy, marketing plans, printing of tickets and badges, discussions with the BBC and overseas’ broadcasters, meetings with sponsors and contractors to review the previous year and formulate future plans. Our tradestands, which have become such an essential part of Burghley, take up much deliberation and planning. But of course the Three Day Event competition is what Burghley is internationally renowned for and planning for this started on the Monday after last year’s Event when our Course Designer, Captain Mark Phillips, popped in to my office before his departure to wish us all well and outline his plans for this year. There was acknowledgement that WEG was taking place soon after Burghley and this must be a consideration when planning the course. We still wished it to be a true four star but also one which would suit perhaps some of our less experienced horses. I hope this has been achieved and if you log on to his course drive on our website you can have a sneak preview. Anne, our competition secretary wrote the first Burghley blog for this year and she touched on some of the elements of the equestrian competition side of Burghley.
The event is now imminent with the clock ticking rapidly, so less of the past planning and more of today. I have just finished meeting with the Burghley Estate Director, who will be co-ordinating the traffic arrangements. An unenviable task and one which I suspect new appointees to the Estate are not told of until after the appointment! David has a great sense of humour which makes life so much easier, but I know behind this happy exterior he takes everything very seriously and will be working long hours over the four days.
I did not start this morning in good humour at all, we had heavy rain last night and I thought the showground was bound to suffer. I need not have worried, as I drove into the Park the site team had everything in hand. The heavy electric generators had all been parked up on the tarmac to await the ground to dry before being postioned. The avenues in between the tradestands had been roped off to prevent vehicle entry and all forklifts had been told they could not come on site without turf tyres. I got the hint, they had it all under control and as I drove up onto site again later today the sun was shining, and everything looked pristine and in order. That is apart from my smart sliver Range Rover, loaned to me for the event by our title sponsors, Land Rover, which does not now look quite so smart having been driven around the Park earlier in the day in the type of conditions they were really designed for!
We’ve made new arrangements for the deer this year. Part of their enclosure has had to be taken up for a new parking area for our trade exhibitors. We were uncertain how this was going to work and decided to put up temporary Heras fencing rather than build a permanent deer fence for them. Their ability to jump great heights never ceases to amaze me so I was relieved to see them all happily grazing behind their new boundary. I was similarly surprised when a few weeks ago I saw three ‘stray’ deer happily grazing our Main Arena area which has an electric fence boundary around it like Fort Knox. I was expecting them to jump over it to exit the Arena and watched from a distance for some time. Eventually they all lowered themselves almost to their knees to crawl under the fencing, so much for our efforts!
The committee have all been updated today of the finer details for next week. We had our local press day last week, so there has been a last minute flurry of activity; radio interviews, VNR’s for the TV and so much interest in the event that we held the Box Office open for another week. With Bank Holiday looming we closed today for Advance bookings, so no more discounts and all tickets are now at gate prices. I hope the committee will be pleased as our advance sales are well up on last year’s and there are only a very few Sunday grandstand tickets left to sell ‘on the day’.
I cannot do much more today, nothing will spoil between now and the morning – one thing is for certain it will still be here! We are ending the day on a good note as Anne has just confirmed that our new medical kit bags have arrived for cross country day. Last year we sent all the medical teams’ working gear to be dry-cleaned and then forgot about it. Thankfully having searched the office high and low last week, Anne remembered and today three girls were despatched from the office to collect everything. At least it had been safely stored for the year! Quite a task as we have 45 doctors that work over the period of the Event; some in the Red Cross units looking after the general public, others dedicated to the main competition with the emphasis on cross country day and the remainder overseeing the other competitions. At least the medical team are sorted!
Thursday, August 19, 2010 13:44 BST
Anne Whitton has been competition secretary at Burghley for over 20 years and has seen many changes over that time.
My year starts almost as soon as the previous one has finished, with barely time for a break after writing all those thank you letters and I am very much in full swing by January when the preparation for the three day event commences; the schedule is prepared and sent to the FEI for approval, prior to me forwarding it to all officials, National Federation and posting on to the website
The three day event entries for The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials opened at the beginning of July and closed on the 30th, but in between times much work has been going on. Not least the ordering of all the car passes, entry tickets, badges and rosettes and also the preparation of the 20 or so qualifying classes for the Young Event horses so I am really a jack of all trades. Looking back through my files I think I must also have written to over 300 officials by the time I have included, fence judges, commentators, stewards, farriers, - the list is endless
As the entries have come in I acknowledged the details, confirmed ownership, breeding and special requirements, for example electrical hook ups, arrival times and bedding for the horses. We particularly like the name of the breeder of the horse and the name of the groom as these details are published in the programme.
Now that entries have closed and qualifications and Federation approvals have been received the draw took place at the beginning of this week to determine the running order. It’s been a busy week and I have spent much of my time sending out letters of confirmation and tickets to all the owners and riders – I hope they have arrived – good old Royal Mail! I am now awaiting the inevitable phone calls with the usual requests for changes, or extra stables for their Blenheim horses – unfortunately not possible now as the stables are up and you cannot just stick an extra one on the end!
Everyone n the office is very pleased that we’ve still got more than 100 entries in, from 12 nations, though sadly a couple have pulled out since the ‘draw’. I say everyone is pleased, perhaps not Katherine who does the programme and is worrying whether we can fit them all in! Every year some of the championship horses are entered as a second option so we know it is inevitable that we will lose a few more in addition to those who sadly for one reason or another fall by the wayside. Hopefully we will end up with 80 or so runners – just perfect and which I know will please the Director - 40 on each dressage day. Let us not forget the guinea pig, who will always ask Yogi Breisner (the performance manager) to arrange – we hit the jack pot this year with Nicola Wilson with her WEG ride ‘Opposition Buzz’
Still so much to do and so little time, what am I doing writing this – obviously someone twisted my arm! My next job, when I can face it, is 40 plus doctors to write to – they are a good bunch, always friendly with a good sense of humour so I am always happy to undertake this task. Already done the vets and general officials and now worrying whether I have missed anyone.
At Burghley we also run several other competitions – the Pony Club team jumping and the Finals of the Burghley Dubarry Young Event Horse classes. There’s barely time to breathe, let alone sit down!
My office at the moment looks like a tornado has been through it. My willing student assistant has been packing boxes with rosettes, trophies, clip boards, everything we can think of before moving offices to the temporary offices on the showground. In addition I am quite deaf as she has been testing all the whistles that we use on the cross country day – al the dogs in the office have gone mad. Tomorrow she will be packing up the riders’ and grooms’ goody bags. We have so much support from local and national companies and I am presently looking at about 100 boxes of Uncles Bens Rice and Pedigree dog Food kindly donated by Mars. Everyone visiting my office thinks I have a strange diet!
Press day is imminent and I am being pulled from pillar to post with requests for information. I was hoping to drive round the cross country earlier today, but time has not permitted, perhaps tomorrow. Captain Mark Phillips has just put his head round my door to check I have received his copy for the programme – He is as cheerful as ever – don’t know how he does it as he has only just returned from another trip to the USA.
I have just been told that David Goldstrom, our larger than life TV producer has just rung – we can never get him off the phone, he is so enthusiastic and one of those people we are always pleased to talk to – always looking for innovative ideas, I understand Burghley TV is about to go live and he has a last minute query. I will call him back in a few minutes as at the same time the director has requested a list of riders by county – duty calls again!