I spoke to Lance Bradley, Managing Director at Mitsubishi Motors UK about sponsoring such a prestigious event as Badminton Horse Trials. I wanted to understand what it was like to be involved with the event and the sport and why Mitsubishi Motors started and continued the relationship.
How did you get involved? Where did it all start?
1992 it started, but this was well before my time at Mitsubishi Motors UK, it’s a local event to us and at the time a lot of people in the office were interested in equestrian sport so it was natural for us to get involved. We have now been involved with Badminton Horse Trials for 24 years and it’s become part of what we do, almost everyone at our head office gets involved to some extent or another and it’s become part of our DNA.
Why do you continue to be involved, obviously advertising is a great hook as everyone knows, but are there other reasons?
It’s very local but it’s also one of the premier equestrian events in the world, so to be involved in the event is a great honour and that’s not just corporate speak, it truly is! When you meet some of the amazing people involved you realise how fantastic it is to help support such a magnificent event. It’s great to put our brand and products in front of everyone, but to be associated with Badminton Horse Trials is amazing and something we are very proud of. We spend the entire week at the event with my family, it’s something I like to fully participate in as a sponsor and make it worthwhile.
Talk to me about some of the memories you hold when attending Badminton?
My mum is a huge fan and always used to come to the event, I used to joke with Hugh that our sponsorship has to continue as my mum wants to come, I would be more scared to tell my mum we stopped sponsorship! It’s such a fab and inclusive event, the first time I went as Managing Director of Mitsubishi Motors UK I was meeting people in the press area such as Mary King and William Fox-Pitt, before I took on this role I hadn’t really been involved in the sport, but even then I knew it was a real privilege to meet these people.
Last year’s event, when Giuseppe did his first design, I bumped into him for a chat. After building such a challenging course in 2014 I asked his thoughts, to which he responded “Last year everybody said the course was too easy, this year nobody said course was too easy”!
Is there a reason jumping the bed of the Mitsubishi truck has stopped?
Yes, riders used to jump over the bed of the truck in historic years, but we were worried that if a rider got it wrong there is no give, so we realised it was much safer for the horses to jump something between two flat trucks instead. The welfare and safety of the horses and riders is absolutely paramount.
Where do you see eventing in the future?
From our point of view we hope to continue our relationship for as long as they want to keep the association. I can’t see any circumstances where we wouldn’t want to be involved.
Let’s talk about Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championship, or from next year Mitsubishi Motors Cup.
The competition in its current format was a concept I formed, it came from a football competition I saw for young teams and the prize was the final was played at Wembley on the morning of the cup final. I thought it would be a great idea to try and do something similar for amateur riders. I went and pitched the idea to Hugh to try and make it a reality and the rest as they say is history. The only slight frustration, in its current format Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships, everyone refers to the competition as Grassroots, we want to have people to understand the association Mitsubishi has with Badminton so changing the name to Mitsubishi Motors Cup helps keep the association.
We have some plans for enhancing the competition in the coming years, but we won’t be making any announcements until after this years’ event. The event itself has done exactly what we wanted, to offer the opportunity for amateurs to ride at Badminton but there are things we could also do to make it even better in the future than it is now, keep an eye out for the changes for next year.