Entries for Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (16-19 September) will include at least two members of Britain’s recent gold medal-winning eventing team from the Tokyo Olympics.
Both world number one Oliver Townend and Tom McEwen – individual silver medallist in Tokyo alongside his team gold – plan to run at least two horses at Blenheim Palace, which will be run by The Jockey Club for the first time this year. The prize-pot – already the best in Europe at CCI4* level – has been boosted for the prestigious CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses by another £7,500 to £22,500.
Both Oliver and Tom have a keen interest in racing; Tom’s father Bobby McEwen is a well-known racecourse vet, while Oliver’s friendship with Oisin Murphy has led the champion Flat jockey owning a young horse ridden by Oliver.
“It’s fantastic to have The Jockey Club involved in eventing, and I am really looking forward to seeing what an organisation with such long experience of developing horse sport brings to one of our most important horse trials,” said Oliver. “It’s a breath of fresh air for eventing and hopefully will encourage a wider and more diverse audience to take an interest in what we do.”
Tom and Oliver were speaking after taking part in the official National Lottery Team GB Homecoming party and concert at Wembley.
Tom said: “We had an amazing time in Tokyo. We went there knowing that we could win because Oliver, Laura Collett and I were lucky enough to be riding three of the best horses in the world, and it was lovely to be able to bring home the gold medal.
“Blenheim Palace has always been one of my favourite events, and it will be very exciting to see what The Jockey Club brings to it – it’s terrific to have a new organiser in the sport and I gather they have lots of great plans and new ideas.”
The increased prize-money is due to the generosity of The Friends of Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (FBPIHT).
Dr Liz Williams, Managing Director of Classic Sport Horses, explained: “The Friends of Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials are a group of passionate equestrian enthusiasts who have come together to support the event financially. We are owners, riders, breeders and support a wide range of eventers at all levels. We are very excited to be able to support this event and look forward to meeting owners and riders who will be making full use of the opportunities this wonderful event offers.”
Having missed so many shopping opportunities in the past 18 months, visitors to Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials will love the wide range of high-quality tradestands, food outlets and bars. There is a packed schedule of entertainment on the Saturday and Sunday of the event (18 and 19 September) in the Family Fun Zone, including appearances from children’s characters Peppa Pig and Hey Duggee, dog agility, the brilliant Shetland Grand National and side-saddle displays. BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James and Chris Smith will be reading extracts from their new children’s book, and there will be meet and greet sessions with YouTube star This Esme.
Ian Renton, Event Director, said: “With just four weeks to go until the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, momentum is really starting to build towards the event. It is fantastic that we will hopefully see our recent Olympic Champions, Tom and Oliver competing over the four days, as well as former event winners such as William Fox-Pitt on the course. We are very lucky to have such world class athletes competing at Blenheim this year, and it is going to be a wonderful chance for our spectators to get close to the action.
“The four days promise to be filled with fantastic sporting action and quality entertainment of the course too. We are really looking forward to the event and welcoming people through the gates.”