Thursday, 29 September 2011

CrossCountry | Now There's Another App For That......

Cross Country App
Like a bus, you wait and wait, and then 2 come along at once! Well now we have two apps for memorising your cross country course. To rival CourseWalk, CrossCountry is the latest iPhone App to launch that helps you memorise your cross country course, and it's a pretty strong contender for the App Store's "New & Noteworthy", and should have metre wheel manufacturers quaking in their boots. [Not that anyone competing below intermediate needs a metre wheel]

This App hails from Australia, developed by the Diacono family from Sydney (Mum Jose, Son James & Daughter Helen), and unsurprisingly they have a fair bit of experience in Eventing, Jose is involved at the Sydney 3 Day Event and has an 'ology' in mapping, Helen is an event rider, whilst James has provided the technical wizardry behind the app.

The principles are very simple; provide some basic information about the course you are about to walk then start recording as you walk round your course. Along the way take snaps of each fence, and other relevant points. You can record video clips too.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Gatcombe | A Fond Farewell To The British Summer

Gatcombe | Great For Practicing My Photographic Skills
The Whatley Manor International Horse Trials [or "Gatcombe (2)" as it is often referred to] often signals the last of the good weather events in the UK. By mid September it really is a case of "if it's not raining, wait 5 minutes" [it will], so you might as well flip a coin before deciding what to wear and setting off for this event, and I did spot a few horses that had already been clipped, so the great British autumn really has arrived......brrr!

Autumn colours were breaking through everywhere, and the varying terrain of Gatcombe provided some great opportunities for practicing my photographic skills in a variety of settings. I've still a way to go on the photography front, and I will have to go on a few photography courses this winter to get more of a handle on my camera, but I think I came away from Gatcombe with at least a couple of nice photos.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Cross Country - There's Now An App For That Too

Course Walk App
The growing band of iPhone Apps for eventing fans everywhere is about to increase by one, thanks to the imminent arrival of the Course Walk app, that will help you record your course walk, automatically work out where your minute markers are and let you take photos of every fence along the way.

I have to confess I got quite excited when "CourseWalk" started following me on twitter, and I discovered this was a new app, with some cool tech use of the iPhone for eventing. The app has been developed by Nicolas & Tracy Hinze from Bedford, Virginia. Tracy has been eventing for 20 years and currently rides at the Preliminary and Intermediate levels in the US, and her software developer husband, Nick, seems to have caught the eventing bug in the last few years, and is running around some of the beginner novice level courses on a percheron cross named Picasso - brave guy!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Blenheim | A Change In Nations Fortunes

Piggy French Warms Up To Win Blenheim CCI***
A change of venue, from the grand surroundings of Burghley, to the even grander surroundings of Blenheim Palace, gave many a change of fortune, expect perhaps the British, who excelled at both. William Fox-Pitt added 1st & 3rd in the CIC*** (split by Sarah Cohen) to his historic Burghley win, and finished 10th in the CCI*** won by Piggy French aboard the horse she won the Olympic test event on.

The fate of nations in eventing is so often cyclical, dependent on bringing enough elite horsepower together at the same time. British & New Zealand are currently the super powers with riders having invested heavily in breeding and selective purchasing like no other nation except perhaps Germany, in a bid to break the cycle. The Australians who, not too long ago, could boast triple Olympic medalists on their team with elite 4 star horses, are currently climbing out of 'recession' with fresh talent like Paul Tapner & Sam Griffiths, and may perhaps not make up an all conquering team in time for London 2012, having failed to qualify so far, plus two of Paul Tapner's elite list horses are currently on the injury list.  None of this would prevent them from fielding some pretty strong individuals.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Team Australia - In My Back Yard

Paul Tapner & Sam Griffiths | On The Australian Elite List
One of, if not, the largest contingents of foreign event riders based here in the UK hail from Australia, and after two weeks in and out of planes, trains & automobiles watching events (in-between the day job) I finally managed to get to see my own horse earlier this week, only to find almost all of the Aussies in my back yard for an Australian Event Team training clinic. What a treat!

Boomerang Stables near Lambourn in Berkshire is something of a hub for many Australian & New Zealand riders, most of whom are based within a short drive of the place. With eventing facilities to rival any available in the UK; 2 outdoor all weather arenas, a decent sized indoor arena with viewing gallery, a 40 acre cross country schooling facility with over 100 fences of all types (see link below), and enough stables & grazing to support 40+ horses plus hay production. It's been base camp for many international riders over the years, including Mark & Sandy Phillips, and Bltyh Tait, and before that was an 400 acre thoroughbred stud, subsequently carved up. I've been here for 10 years now.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Burghley, As Only Burghley Can

This year's Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials cross country day, lived up to all my expectations as the best Burghley for many years. Probably the most international line up of any CCI**** I've ever seen, with horses and riders having travelled from as far afield as Australia, California, and of course Europe.

I've spent most of the day out on the cross country course, partially succeeding in fine tuning my camera skills, although I have to confess to being a little ill prepared by not having a course map with me until I blagged one from an official, but not before I'd walked far more than I needed to.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Germany Leads, But Andrew, William & Mary Still Own Burghley

Dressage Leader | Simone Dietermann
With only 6 points separating the top 10, and a much needed clear run over tomorrow's Land Rover Burghley cross country course, the current leader Simone Deitermann, has quite a task ahead of her if she is to maintain her lead. A fast clear round, even with a few time faults should still aid her primary aim of gaining an olympic qualification after a few disappointing runs at 3 & 4 star recently.

This pair were so impressive at Badminton in 2010, only to have an unfortunate tumble, crashing literally into the last fence at the WEG in Kentucky last autumn.

The next 5 horses in the pecking order are all ridden by previous Burghley winners, with William Fox-Pitt less than a point behind the leader, and no doubt eager to make an historic 6th win to equal Lucinda Green's record at Badminton. Andrew Nicholson, Mary King  and William all have two chances in the top ten, and last year's popular winner, Caroline Powell with Lenamore is poised in equal fifth. It is possibly these riders who know Burghley like the back of their hand and where to shave that vital second or two that will own this competition.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Two 5 Timers In The Burghley Field | 6 Anyone?

William Fox-Pitt
Day One of Dressage complete at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, and one of the three people to have won the event 5 times, William Fox-Pitt, is in the lead with the decent chance of getting his second ride, Neuf De Coeurs, in front or close to the leading score of 39.7. In a what might almost seem like a re-run from last year, Fox-Pitt had an error of course, in an otherwise exemplary test to sit 3 point clear of Andrew Nicholson on Avebury.

Another Burghley 5-time winner, Mark Todd, is also in the field, only a lot further down the pecking order on 56.5. When I asked Mark back in the beginning of August, about his chances of making it 6 Burghleys, he said " Realistically No. Last year he [Major Milestone] was there and he finished 11th, and we were really pleased with it. He's a very good cross country horse, and he's normally a pretty reliable showjumper, but he struggles a bit in the dressage, and although I think he's going better than ever at this stage it depends on what the track is like and what effect that has on it [the competition], but with the sport today you really need to be in the top five after the dressage to have a realistic chance of winning, I don't think we're going to be doing that." (but he is Mark Todd, and anything can happen, can't it?)