BETA basks in the glory of Gatcombe

The British Equestrian Trade Association enjoyed a brilliant 11th year as presenting sponsor of the Festival of British Eventing, at Gatcombe Park (5-7 August), where large crowds gathered to see a field of top riders compete in the glorious Gloucestershire countryside and enjoy some of the retail therapy on offer in the shopping village.

The BETA Anniversary Trophy – introduced last year – was awarded to Thomas Carlile, the highest-placed rider to complete the British Open Championship for the first time. BETA also supported the Pony Club Inter-Club Team Show Jumping, which was won by the Ledbury Hunt branch, and the Pony Club Mounted Games. All riders were presented with a goody bag when they took their riding hats or body protectors along to the BETA stand for a four-point check to examine fit, fastening, condition and standard – and those who took part in the showjumping also received a commemorative BETA stable plaque.

This popular rider safety initiative was also offered to Gatcombe visitors, with those who took part receiving a voucher giving them a 10 per cent discount on the price of a new safety garment when bought from a participating BETA retail member.

A luxury prize draw featuring £1,500 worth of equestrian clothing and equipment for horse and rider was the star of the BETA stand, where doggy bandanas and rosettes were offered in exchange for donations to the trade association's two supported charities, the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and HorseBack UK. Charity coffers were also boosted by BETA's two mechanical horses, RoboCob and Trigger, who gave visitors the chance to sample life in the saddle while raising money for The Brooke.

BETA's Snap or Selfie Competition made a welcome return to Gatcombe with an increased prize pot – a super £100 shopping voucher to spend with a BETA retailer. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram soon become peppered with #bgselfie photos as the photography challenge went viral, leaving the BETA team with the difficult task of selecting a winner.

As part of its commitment to the trade, BETA held its annual Tradestand Holders Breakfast early on Saturday morning, when everyone tucked into bacon rolls as the winners of the BETA Best Stand Awards were announced. This year, the awards at Gatcombe featured a new format – introduced at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials in June – with Lifestyle, Pet & Fashion and Equestrian & Saddlery categories, and stands awarded a silver or gold standard.

 In the Lifestyle, Pet & Fashion section, gold was won by luxury accessory retailer Will Bees Bespoke – which also won the Best in Show award – country giftware company Polka Dot Pie and subscription flower delivery service Freddie’s Flowers. Silver went to home and garden gifts company Wonders of Wood, country clothing and footwear retailer Yorkshire Clothing and rider clothing and gifts retailer Uptown E Store.

In Equestrian & Saddlery, gold was presented to retailers Horse Direct and Horses in Sport, while silver went to retailers Treehouse Sporting Colours and Colne Saddlery, and the Woodland Trust's charity stand was picked out for special mention thanks to its attractive and informative displays.

“The Festival of British Eventing is one of the high points of the BETA calendar and we consider it a tremendous opportunity to be linked to such a prestigious event,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “The sponsorship allows us to engage with riders at all levels and chat with individuals and families who are enthusiastic about equestrian sport and horse riding, as well as enabling us to promote BETA initiatives and the work of our members.

“We were also really pleased to unveil at Gatcombe our new arrangements for the BETA Best Stand Awards, as we feel that they do an excellent job of recognising all the hard work, dedication and commitment that goes into creating a first-class shopping environment.”

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