Course Designer and Builder
Words from Hugh Lochore
Back home in Scotland I had been working as designer/builder on another up and coming event, Burgie. In 1996 Burgie ran it’s first CCI**, requiring an FEI affiliated designer, and so I went back to school, getting accepted onto the FEI Course Designer’s list as a Candidate – thought to be the youngest in the world to achieve this status at that time. By 1999 I had a busy schedule designing and building at multiple levels throughout the UK whilst still building at Red Hills in the US. In that year I had started designing new Preliminary and Intermediate courses at Burnham Market in England, and with International experience under my belt I was promoted to an FEI ‘I’ level designer. Burgie had become the largest – in terms of entries – 3-day event, in the world.
In 2002, as a culmination to a 3-year contract, I designed the Pony European Championships at Necarne Castle in Ireland. Burnham Market was now running 900 horses, twice a year, from Training level to CIC***. Burgie was going strong and I had started designing at Vairano, Italy’s new CIC**/*. Having assisted the Willis Brothers with the building of the WEG’s at Jerez, I had been shadowing Mike Tucker as course designer in Spain for the 18 months leading up to that event. In helping Alan Willis’ crew I learned a lot from the world’s most experienced course builders and I was only too appreciative when they agreed to build to my designs at a new project in Ballygraffan, Ireland. Ballygraffan the next year became a CIC**/*, and in 2005 the event was voted the best in Ireland by competitors and journalists. In 2005 Burnham Market became a World Cup Qualifier, and I was designing and building at 9 other venue across the UK, including Burgie, and at every level. In Ireland I had Ballygraffan and had been asked to take on the role as designer of Punchestown, one of the worlds top 10 events, running CCI***/**. In doing so I was taking over the reins, and learning a great deal from, the retiring Tommy Brennan, a living legend in the world of course design. I was also designing a new CCI**/* at Tattersalls, Ireland. This event beat Ballygraffan into 2nd place as the best Irish event in 2006, and again in 2007 and 2008, when it hosted a very popular World Cup Qualifier. In 2007 I was designer at the 1st running of Houghton Hall CCI**/* in England, successfully taking over from the great Windsor International, running 240 horses, including 140 in the CCI 2**. I have dropped Vairano in Italy and Punchestown in Ireland is cancelled.
It was during this year that I had made the decision to move my new family from the UK to my wife’s home town of Tallahassee, Florida, and that is where my crazy journey with Red Hills completed it’s circle. I was to focus on a new career in Real Estate whilst continuing my designing at the following International events:
Having been the principle builder at Red Hills for 10 years, it has been an incredible journey for both the event and for me personally. I always hugely enjoyed my trips across the Atlantic to work with such a progressive project and it was whilst in Tallahassee that I met and married a local ‘gal’. Brooke, having moved with me in England for 3 years, agreed – with very little persuasion it has to be said – to make the move back to her roots, and that is how we came to live in Tallahassee today.
I believe that the positive vibe that I can take from this community and its deep involvement with The Red Hills International Horse Trials, coupled with my extensive knowledge of the ground at this facility, I can bring to Red Hills what is needed to develop the x-country courses as we embark on the new Continental Cup era. Mark Phillips, involved me with Red Hills from the outset, has been instrumental in developing the courses from the lower levels to world class. Mark has left me with a good feeling for what can be achieved with this venue..