Good things come to those who wait and finally, after three years, the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing is back, showcasing none less than 5 British Championships at the magnificent Gatcombe Park, home to Princess Anne and daughter Zara Tindall who’s also based on the estate.
I’m heading there for the weekend with my blogger/content creator hat on and can’t wait to share the low down from the event which has some of the best cross-country viewings in my opinion in the UK as well as a variety of trade stands making it a top family day out.
How to follow all the action:
If you’re unable to make it to Gatcombe Park, don’t worry Horse & Country will be live streaming the cross country on Saturday and Sunday – so you can keep up to date with all the action.
Follow The Festival across social media:
Keep up to date with the latest scores – Eventing Scores
Before The Festival I’m catching up with a mix of competitors and brands exhibiting who will give the low down on the event.
First off, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on The Festival: Becky Wren, blogger at www.countrybumpkinchic.co.uk
- What are you most looking forward to? I’m just excited to be attending one of the UK’s biggest equestrian events and soaking up the atmosphere. Olympia 2019 was my last big event and then the pandemic hit – so it’s been a while since I’ve got out to one of the big ones. It’s going to be great to watch the cross country, lots of exciting Championship classes. I have aspirations to compete in The Corinthian’s Cup one day! Oh and the variety of trade stands – there’s even a farmer’s market which means lots of yummy food and drink.
- Top tips for anyone attending? If you’re planning on walking the cross-country wear sensible footwear as it’s pretty hilly, or bring a picnic rug so you can sit down, chill out and watch all the action in the main arena.
- You’ll most likely find me…Trying to get the perfect shot at The Folly jump of Harry Meade, Oliver Townend, Pippa Funnell or Jonelle Price and the beautiful Classic Moet. Oogling over the beautiful Hiho Silver collection or treating myself to a glass of Piaff champagne.
Festival first-timers Tamsin Drew (Insta @tamsin_drew) and Isn’t It Special aka Kate are competing in the TopSpec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup for the National Restricted Novice Championship on Friday and Sunday – we caught up with them to find out how their prep is going and what they’re looking forward to.
- Have you been to the Festival of British Eventing before – either to visit or compete? It’s my first visit, I’ve not even visited as a spectator previously. I’ve always wanted to go and to compete here is very exciting!
- What are you most looking forward to at the Festival of British Eventing – a) from a competition perspective & b) once you’ve had a chance to relax? I’m really looking forward to walking, watching and riding the cross country. I’ve watched the XC live stream many times but being there amongst the action and added atmosphere, will be really good fun.
- How has your preparation been in the lead-up to the Championship? It’s been going well; I’ve heard they have big hills at Gatcombe! So I’ve upped the fitness with some trips to the gallops, and have a final cross country schooling planned and dressage test practice before Friday.
- Where do you think will be the best viewing point on the XC course? Ooh, I’ve no idea as it’s my visit, but the water jump always provides good entertainment.
- And one tip for anyone coming to visit over the weekend? If you are coming to spectate, enjoy the XC action. Make sure you have a look around the trade stands including the new Farmers Market and pop over to the main show jumping ring. I’m sure the added arena attractions will be great to watch including the Shetland grand national, all the times can be found here.
Good luck Tamsin, we can’t wait to see how you and the gorgeous Kate get on. Keep an eye out for #319 – they’ll be doing dressage on Friday, and both show jumping and cross country on Sunday.
We caught up with founder and exhibitor Sophie from Foxy Equestrian (Insta @foxyequestrian)
- What are you & the team most looking forward to about attending the Festival of British Eventing? It will be Foxy’s first time at The Festival. It’s a fairly local event to us and we have friends at Kicking Goat Cider that are supplying the event and thought it would make a nice weekend away. This will be the first event I have done with my husband, son and dog, so it will be a family trip, I guess that is what I am most excited about
- What are your must-have products for visitors to the stand over the weekend? Well, it looks like it’s going to be another warm one so our Vests at £15 a pop are sure to be popular and of course, our Riding Tights are super popular as people get to try them on and once you try them they are a must-have. I plan to bring lots of colour as usual with the Pompom Hat Silks and XC Colours.
- If you get a chance to pop away from the stand where are we most likely to find you? By a cross country jump, drinking Kicking Goat Cider! (In my dreams!)
- Will any of the competitors be wearing Foxy Equestrian? Yes, Foxy Brand Ambassador Hani Milstein will be there riding two, VLOVE D ORLY in the Open Novice and MISTER KAI in the Novice Regional Championships.
- And finally, where can visitors find the Foxy Equestrian stand? We’re on Stand 64.
We look forward to seeing you at The Festival – I for one will definitely be checking out the riding tights and vests!
I caught up with Dorset-based mother and daughter eventers – Jo and Jess Rimmer who are heading to The Festival on Saturday to compete. Jess is a talented Young Rider – definitely, one to watch for the future, and Jo is a 5* rider who is a real inspiration in the eventing world and I’m very lucky to be trained by her as well. (Insta @JessRimmerEventing, Facebook Team Rimmer Eventing)
- What are you most looking forward to about competing at the Festival of British Eventing aka Gatcombe? Jess – will this be your first time? Yes! This is the first year I have qualified, I’m excited to finally be riding at the prestigious event. Mum has talked so much about the testing cross-country and I’m looking forward to giving it a crack – my ride, Fred, (Emerald Spirit II) is a class cross-country horse so he should be in his element. Jo – what’s your fondest memory of Gatcombe? I’ve had lots of cool rides there – Finnegans Whiskers, who we bought from Goresbridge Sales for peanuts as a 4-year-old, jumped clear in 2009, 2010 and 2011, before going on to finish his career as a Grand Prix show jumper! Isaac Newton, my 5* horse, jumped round the Intermediate Champs in 2016 and the Advanced in 2017, giving me super rides each time – he is a bold yet balanced cross-country horse, so the hills and undulations really suited him.
- What do you think makes The Festival such a special event? The iconic ‘bowl’ acts as a natural amphitheatre, giving the cross-country an exciting atmosphere for spectators. The tricky undulations provide riders with a true test of balance, reactions, and bravery, coupled with an exciting show-jumping atmosphere making ‘big’ Gatcombe a really special event.
- Where do you think will be the best spot to watch the XC? On the hill near the water jump!
- If you get a chance after competing, where are we most likely to find you at The Festival? At the lorry with a glass of Pimm’s, or out watching the Burghley Young Event Horse classes. (BYEH – takes place on Friday).
- Which classes are you both competing in & what day if we want to follow you? Mum (Jo) is #28 in The Evelyn Partners British Intermediate Championship riding Chilli’s Midnight Star and I’m #93 in the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship. Both of us have dressage on Friday, show jumping and cross country on Saturday.
Good luck Jess & Jo – we can’t wait to see how you get on!
Who better to catch up with before The Festival, than none other than commentator, presenter and Equiratings podcast host Nicole Brown (@nicolebrownmedia) who will be at Gatcombe presenting and commentating on the Saturday and Sunday for the Horse and Country live stream.
- What are you most looking forward to about the return of the Festival of British Eventing – aka Gatcombe? The Festival has always had such a special feeling and it’s fantastic to be back after three long years. Obviously, we will have top competition with some of the best horses and riders in the world, but I think I am most looking forward to the return of the event with (hopefully!) packed crowds. It’s such a family fun day out and the atmosphere is always incredibly special.
- Who are you looking forward to watching compete? There are some great combinations in the line-up but in the Magic Millions British Open Championship, I think it has to be the return of 2019 winners Jonelle Price and Classic Moet. There are few better sights than enjoying ‘Molly’ tackle a cross country track like Gatcombe.
- Best spot to watch the XC? It has to be the Gatcombe Bowl! Fantastic viewing spot which takes in the second half of the course, so things are really heating up plus there is a great atmosphere.
- And when you’re not commentating, where are we likely to find you at The Festival? Probably the shopping village!
Thanks, Nicole, and I must agree I’m excited about Molly & Jonelle doing what they do best & eat up the XC. If you’re unable to make it to The Festival, make sure you tune into the live stream on Horse and Country.
Will you be attending The Festival, what are you most looking forward to?