There is still a nip in the air, but inside our timber office the temperature is hotting up (literally, as there are a few here who insist on sauna-like conditions in order to function!). I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of days this month that there hasn’t been a formal meeting planned in my diary, home or away.
Essential to establish the foundations of this year’s planning, but whilst few meetings are troublesome in themselves, it’s the necessary thinking time to “join the dots” between the various elements which is the challenge. ‘Cause and Effect’ is a term frequently quoted in our office: every change and improvement in one area has an impact on a myriad of others. Given the number of developments planned for the 2015 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials this is more of a juggling act than ever – but (to shift the metaphor) I’d rather have a game of dominoes in February than one of Jenga in the summer!
In recent weeks much time has been taken up concluding plans for a revamp of the Grandstand, as this year the freestanding area at the West end of the Arena will be changed to offer more seats to purchase for the Sunday show jumping, so the team are ensuring that printers are advised of changes to row and seat numbers and that these are programmed into the software that supports our on-line booking processes for the Box Office opening in May.
This month we have met with our Caravan Steward, a new Grandstand steward’s assistant, our competition Technical Delegate, the organisers of the Exhibition Village and Celebrity Talk Area, various sponsors, our TV production company and PR agency. A very large proportion of our incoming post now is applications from Tradestand hopefuls – our ‘regulars’ and many keen newcomers – which must be sifted through in advance of the meeting of the Tradestand Selection Committee. And how could we forget that all-important element, food and drink, so we have had further talks with our public caterers – after all, every army marches on its stomach!
All this leads me to conclude that horses are relatively straightforward to look after, even at this level of our sport, but humans are ever more diverse in their habits and tastes – shopping, culinary and otherwise – and we have to “get it right” for near on 160,000 visitors in (as I write) 196 days’ time. In a few short weeks, the first meeting of the year of the LRBHT Committee takes place, which always serves to focus the mind, but the judge and jury will be you, the public, and as ever, that Rolex clock on our website’s homepage serves as my ultimate alarm clock – with no snooze button!