|Pippa Funnell | Running Right Up To WEG|
For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it runs over completely different ground to the 'main' Gatcombe Festival, but is undulating nevertheless. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos, and only a few short video clips at the water fence (below). I wouldn't say either course was "massive", but they are both very technical, and there are quite a few long steep descents and climbs to contend with.
On the CIC** course there was almost no let up with real thought provoking fences all the way through from the 4th fence right on to the second last. Halfway through the course in the woods, there was a very deep but small natural bowl with an upright on entry, a drop fence in the bottom (yes!), then a steep climb out over another upright at the top. This was where the majority of those that didn't go clear, had problems, including Matt Ryan.
For the second time in a few months the first person I just happened to catch on video was Lucinda Green (at the water complex), and she made the whole thing look second nature. Watching Lucinda show jumping was more interesting, as her horse zig-zag'd towards the planks trying to duck out at least 3 times, but to no avail and they jumped clear. I wasn't sure whether to be surprised or not to see Pippa Funnell competing in the CIC* on one of her homebred horses, only days before departure for WEG. She notched a perfect double clear to finish 7th in one of the largest classes I've seen anywhere - well over 100.
We did happen to watch a few of the CIC* runners as we walked the course and I did feel a little sorry for one of the competitors I follow on twitter, Ben Murphy (or at least I think it was him), who had clearly had traffic problems on his way up from Kent, arriving late for his dressage, and after a good round showjumping, suffered elimination at the water complex after one stop and two run outs. If that was you and you do happen to read this Ben, just remember, even when your horse is having a good look at a fence, always keep your vision up, and your leg on! Good Luck with your next event.
I really liked the look of the CIC* star course, a decent course without frightening off the amateur riders, many of whom see this as one of their main goals, and it was only a few years ago that you couldn't find a CIC* in this country. Also, I thought I heard over the tannoy they were issuing prizemoney down to 20th+ placings.
All in all a great event, and one I'll be aiming for next year, if we manage to keep our season on the right tracks next year, and I'd be interested to hear what Mike Tucker would have to say in his commentary, as he was adamant I wouldn't 'personally' pass the trot -up! He's probably right, but thankfully it's the Great White Charger that needs to be sound.
Here's a few clips from today, sadly only a few: