Blenheim Horse Trials receives new lease of life

Zara Phillips riding High Kingdom at Blenheim by Fiona Scott-Maxwell

The Jockey Club is keen to make this 2021 Blenheim Horse Trials better than ever!

Blenheim Horse Trials is set to return in 2021 and for the first time will be organised by The Jockey Club. The trials will once again take place in the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire from Thursday 16th September to Sunday 19th September inclusive. A pinnacle of the eventing calendar, the fixture includes FEI-accredited and internationally-recognised competitions; a CCI4*-L (four-star Long) and CCI4*-S for eight and nine-year-old horses (four-star Short).

The Jockey Club operates 15 racecourses across the UK, including iconic venues like Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom Downs and Newmarket. Explaining how The Jockey Club were given responsibility for Blenheim Horse Trials, Ian Renton, Managing Director of The Jockey Club’s West Region, explained:

When we saw Blenheim looking for tenders to take on the operation for five years, it made us think that we have often considered how we can use the expertise we have inside The Jockey Club and how we can use that outside our own sport of racing.

The timing of Blenheim works well with it taking place in September and the fact that our team is incredibly busy in the winter, especially in the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival, but we have more time to devote to other events in the summer months.”

The Jockey Club, founded in 1750 and with Her Majesty The Queen as its Patron, is one of the largest organisations in British sport and stages more than 340 horseracing fixtures each year. Uniquely, all profits made by The Jockey Club are reinvested directly back into racing and Renton believes this model will work extremely effectively at a venue such as Blenheim over the coming years.

Renton continued:

What we have at The Jockey Club is fairly unique as we are a sporting body that operates multiple venues in the sporting sector. If you look at Premier League football or Premiership rugby, you have one club operating one venue but at The Jockey Club we operate 15 venues covering events such as the Randox Grand National Festival, The Festival at Cheltenham and the Cazoo Derby Festival at Epsom Downs.

All are world-class events and we have got the experience and skillsets required to stage them. We also have all the support required to make those events happen in terms of marketing, communications, sales and partnerships, which very few other sporting organisations would have on our scale.

The Jockey Club model is that we are a commercial body which puts all of our profits back into the sport in a variety of ways, including via prize money and improving facilities. We would be looking at something similar at Blenheim where we can increase the revenues through things like new partnerships, ticket sales and hospitality. We can than invest that in improved facilities, improved services and increased prize money.

We have been incredibly lucky to have been able to put together an advisory board of some really talented people led by Alice and William Fox-Pitt, Pippa Funnell, Zara Tindall, Di Brunsden and Terry Miller. They are advising us on eventing and ensuring we plug any gaps in our knowledge. Their support and guidance, coupled with other members of our team like Becky Elvin, our Operations Manager at Cheltenham, who know an awful lot about eventing is invaluable.

While eventing and horseracing are obviously different disciplines, Renton is firmly of the opinion that the two share more than just the involvement of horses.

He explained:

We have a database of a quarter of a million people at Cheltenham alone. It is obviously a different equine discipline but I think there is quite a lot of crossover between racing and eventing in terms of people who love both. The synergies between the two are not to be underestimated.

Hosting top class equestrian competition, free admission, hospitality packages, club enclosures and the much loved shopping experience, the 2021 Blenheim Horse Trials is set to be a not-to-be missed event that we welcome back to the calendar following British Eventing’s withdrawal of support in August 2020.

Further information and tickets for the 2021 Blenheim Horse Trials can be obtained online at

Featured image: Zara Phillips riding High Kingdom at Blenheim by Fiona Scott-Maxwell

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Everything Horse Magazine Issue 43, July 2021

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