Saturday, 19 March 2011

World Clique

Blenheim would be a poorer event without foreign competition
Some months back I wrote about the unofficial cultural exchange programme we have in eventing and how wonderful it was to see so many people flourishing in pastures new. I do constantly thank my lucky stars that the UK has the best eventing circuit in the world, and a large part of it's success is the diverse nationalities we have camped in our back yards.

I'm not talking about the superficial marketing spin we're fed of how great it is to compete against the William Fox-Pitts & Andrew Hoys of this world, because after a few times it's just a nuisance knowing that as an amateur you haven't hope in hell of beating him in a pre-novice or novice that's pretty inconsequential to the professionals, but I'm not going to complain about that.

Friday, 11 March 2011

2011: The Year To Be At Badminton

Team Selection | All To Play For
I love this time of year! Anticipation is a huge part of the overall euphoria, and as the season gets underway, the first tingle up the spine comes courtesy of Badminton Horse Trials and publication of the list of entries.  Thankfully they gave the world at large some warning of the list's publication, so journos, hacks, and bloggers around the globe could sharpen their pencil and get t'd up!  I thought Pippa Roome from the Horse & Hound did a good angle on the whole thing with her, how does the new qualification requirement affect things.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Racing start

I am the proud owner of a six-year-old ex-racehorse. He’s terribly well bred — his sire’s stud fee was in the region of $60,000, and his mother won the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot. If he was a human, he most definitely wouldn’t talk to me — though he was born in America, and they’re not as hung-up about class over there, are they?
Despite his grand start in life, his racing career was somewhat short-lived: having been flown to the UK at the tender age of two, he raced twice, won the second time, then tweaked a suspensory and was retired. He had a year off completely, before being brought back in for retraining, and 18 months ago I bought him for the princely sum of £100 plus VAT (which, at the time, was only 15% — as if he wasn’t bargain enough already).

Monday, 7 March 2011

The Best Laid Plans

My Own Personal Gym
I'm loving the weather this week, I don't mind the cold too much as long as it's dry and means I have an opportunity to dust of my sunglasses. The eventing season is under way, and whilst Mark Todd may turn to Yoga, or Jay Halim may turn to Zumba classes, I break out the mountain bike and Lizzie the labrador to warm my muscles up in preparation for riding.

With a few days of sunshine in the forecast I plan to make the most of the weather this week, before stepping on a transatlantic flight to San Francisco. Cycling around the forest today got me thinking about my plans for the year ahead, and particularly which events I should go and spectate at. I plan to go to a few overseas events this year, particularly in the US, and have Rolex Kentucky on my definite list, and amongst others, Rebecca Farm on my list of possibles. Pau, Luhmuhlen & Beokelo are all places I'd like to revisit as well.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful.....(and one or two to groan about)

Spring Is Here | Time to Unwrap Badminton
The first week of March brings more promise, inspiration and a buzz back to my life. I feel like a sleepy bear awakening from slumber, but probably look more like a hedgehog!

The UK eventing season is imminent and I'm champing at the bit! And apart from the re-insurgence of exchanging blows views with Mark Phillips, albeit via his column in Horse & Hound and my blog, due to the sheer volume of air miles we are collectively racking up, this first week of March sees two other great milestones.

Badminton Horse Trials entries have closed, and that means we'll very shortly know the extent of the foreign invasion beach-heading in Gloucestershire in preparation for London 2012. The second great milestone is the launch of Apple's iPad 2, a major leap forward from the first iteration and very nearly perfect as a laptop replacement.