Think riding a horse on the flat and over a few cavalettis then entering the grand prix ring to soar over six foot fences at top speed. This is a bit like driving a Range Rover SVAutobiography to the barn then heading to a specially designed Land Rover Experience Driving School course over challenging terrain of steep climbs and ascents, water, mud and a black mogul looking ravine. The key to both experiences is trust. Trust in your horse power.
Telling friends I was off to drive a $250,000 car and shoot sporting clay with a $100,000 fine rifle at the Biltmore Estate in Ashland, North Carolina made them green with envy. And a signature green at that – the hunter green of Holland & Holland, makers of the finest firearms since 1835 who teamed up with Land Rover to create a limited edition Holland & Holland Range Rover with only 30 units in the U.S. The two British brands favored by the royal family appeal to the sophisticated sportsman or sportswoman, and this was a trip not to be missed.
The picturesque Biltmore Estate on rolling lush hills includes a winery, two hotels and spa, equestrian center and historic house and gardens. The extended Vanderbilt family, owners of the Biltmore Estate, have long had riders and horse lovers, including Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, and trails meander through the woodlands and meadows.
Land Rover Equestrian Partnerships
Land Rover is the official automotive sponsor of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and has been a sponsor of equestrian sport across all disciplines including Equestrio partner events Rolex Central Park Horse Show, Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event, and British Polo Day. For riders who go from top hat and tails in a dressage ring to inflatable safety vests on challenging cross country courses, the Land Rover is a good fit, able to navigate mud, water, incline and obstacles with performance and safety then run through a quick wash to park in style at a five star restaurant.
The Land Rover family includes the Defender, Discovery and Range Rover series and even a special armored version used for diplomats. Land Rover set an annual sales record in 2015 with a 37% increase in sales with Range Rover Evoque being the fastest selling Land Rover ever. A lease on a new Evoque is one of the coveted prizes for riders at the Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event.
At the Biltmore, the Land Rover Experience Driving School takes you over approximately 300 acres across a specially designed course which gives you the full experience of the car’s capabilities on steep inclines, over rocks, through water and devilish terrain of chest high slippery mounds. As my instructor James informed me, ‘This isn’t Disneyland.’ Move over Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Even the bravest of cross country mounts might take pause at this course. The juxtaposition of being entirely out of your comfort zone with the exterior elements but entirely comfortable inside the luxury vehicle is unique. Even sideways or balancing on riveted terrain on two wheels or climbing over boulders there is no rattling of molars or saddles flying across the back seat. And the refrigerated middle console keeps the emergency dark chocolate from melting.
The Land Rover design includes a combination of 30 computers, special settings which allow the chassis to rise above the elements, and different modes for different terrains. It will even set its own optimum speed to navigate inclines and declines without feet on the pedals. The driver must learn to trust the car. Trust that the car knows how to safely and securely negotiate the obstacles – a sense very keen to equestrians.
The drive culminated at the sporting clay course on a beautiful hill top. The limited edition Range Rover Holland & Holland awaited with its bespoke, locking, leather trimmed gun case in the rear, specially engraved Acanthus scroll design on the handles, and sustainably sourced polished French walnut Veneers, as well as champagne cooler and glasses. Let’s just call it super fancy.
Then it is off to shoot. Holland & Holland, established in London in 1835, are famed for creating sporting guns with utmost artistry and craftsmanship taking over 1100 man hours to create each rifle, retailing on average in the $100,000 range. Longevity is also signature to the Holland & Holland firearm which is often passed down for generations or bought and kept for increased asset value, up to $500,000.
Each element is carefully considered from the stock which comes from the finest walnut and can be tailored to fit the contour of the shooter’s face, to the hand engravings and embellishments for decorative detail, mirrored on the handles of the special made Land Rover. The key when shooting I learned is not to look at the gun but at the target, again an element of trust to will the shot in the right direction to hit the clay. Note that many people are one eye dominant – in women usually the left eye so closing it was the key to me being on target. Like equestrian sport, shooting is one of the few sports where women and men compete on equal terms.
Under ownership by Chanel, Holland & Holland has also expanded an exclusive highly- tailored line of sport clothing, sourcing the best silk from Italy and tweed from Scotland, evoking both safari looks from Out Of Africa and countryside shooting parties from Evelyn Waugh. The specially designed jackets with action pleats allow both shooters and riders the ability of movement to compliment the style.
Experience is The New Luxury
For those looking to enjoy the Land Rover Experience Driving School, they can also be found at the Equinox Resort in Manchester, VT, Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello in Montebello, QC or the Quail Lodge in Carmel, CA. For riders traveling in Europe, the Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds welcomes beginners as well as sharp shooters in Northwood, Greater London and they also have a fine show room in the middle of New York City.
For those interested in the new Holland & Holland Range Rover contact your local Land Rover dealer.