As the Houghton International horse trails get under way in Norfolk, event director Alec Lochore is also playing a key role in this summer’s London Olympics

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He smiles as he fondly recalls helping to create the cross country course at the first Burnham Market horse trials, just over 13 years ago.

Little did Alec Lochore know then how big the event in North Norfolk would become on the international equestrian scene, attracting the sport’s biggest names.

He has also played a big role in organising the Houghton International horse trials over the years, including this year’s event which ends on Sunday.

Now the Brancaster resident is working hard putting the finishing touches on what he hopes will be the best eventing competition the Olympics has ever seen.

Sitting at the highest point in Greenwich Park, looking out onto where the likes of Zara Phillips will compete to become Olympic champion, Alec said: “It’s been quite a journey from the first Burnham Market horse trials in 1999 to here, with this incredible view of London and the Olympic Games only a couple of months away.

“It’s wonderful to be involved on your home Olympics soil, and I am honoured to be part of such a unique event and being part of a team that is working hard to deliver a first class equestrian event,” he said.

“It has also been an amazing experience to work in a setting such as Greenwich Park, with its unique history, setting and undulations.”

In his role as eventing manager, Alec is responsible for the day-to-day project management and operational planning for the discipline of eventing within the equestrian programme.This includes dressage, jumping and cross country.

He also manages the planning and development of the cross country course, working closely with course designer Sue Benson and builders London Eventing.

Alec, who has helped to run more than 50 national and international horse trials over the past decade, is pleased with how the cross country course is coming together.

“It’s been very well considered and has the added bonus of crossing the meridian line four times,” he said.

“We had our difficulties during the design process because of the huge slopes here and the archaeological, environmental and ecological challenges, but we are on schedule to finish in time.”

The choice of Greenwich Park for the Olympics, over sites like Badminton, has been questioned by many in the equestrian community, with some saying there will be “no legacy” as the park will be returned to its former state.

But, the father of two continued: “Before I got the job, I had a tour around here and I could see the benefits of being here.

“I have officiated and been a spectator at previous Olympic Games, and quite often we’re half an hour or more outside of the particular city.

“But here, we are so close to the Olympic Stadium and the athlete’s village. We will be right in the middle of it all and, hopefully, it will give lots of people exposure to our sport.”

A successful eventing rider himself, Alec was appointed the chairman of British Eventing’s safety committee in 2009 and is a technical delegate for the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

“The Olympics were two years and two months away when I got the job, but now it’s so close,” he continued. “We’ve looked at computer screens and plans on A2, A1 and A0 pieces of paper over the last two years but now it’s real, it’s happening.

“Sure I am excited but I’m also a bit apprehensive – we all are – because we want this to be the best it can be. This is the biggest thing that has happened to our team and it is under the most scrutiny.”

Asked if he would have enjoyed competing at London 2012, he replied: “It would have been great to have gone to any Olympic Games, but this would have been awesome.”

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