Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sunshine & Somerley Park Horse Trials

Somerley Park Horse Trials | Another Great UK Eventing Venue
I love my day job, but after two weeks in the US trawling back and forth to San Francisco airport more times than I care to remember, the unseasonably good weather and Somerley Park Horse Trials was an opportunity not to be missed, so I downed tools for an afternoon and headed off.

Situated in the northern reaches of the New Forest, one of the most picturesque parts of southern England, Somerley Park is a truly great eventing venue, with acre upon acre of relatively level park land, which means good going and plenty of space, complete with the requisite stately home back drop.

Running Pre-Novice (BE100) up to Intermediate plus a CIC** over two days there were plenty of entries and a surprising amount of Tradestands around the show jumping arena. I seem to have chosen the best year to make my first visit. Apparently the last years have been a complete disaster weather wise, and judging by the size of the sponsor's tent, plenty of others were making the most of a mid-week break too.

UK Eventing's elite had an outbreak of short sleeves, and a cluster of course designers descended on Somerley , amongst which were Mike Etherington-Smith, Eric Winter & even London Olympic Course Designer, Sue Benson, who had a horse in one of the Novice classes ridden by David Doel.

I only arrived at around 11am, by which time the Intermediate classes were in full swing, and the course didn't seem to be causing too many problems early on, but as the day worn on and the heat & humidity rose you could see horses starting to tire, and the course taking it's toll. Although I didn't walk the whole course, I didn't get the impression it was a particularly difficult Intermediate course, with wide open galloping stretches between most of the fences, but there were a few tricky fences very cunningly placed, like the arrowhead off a curving line down hill or the one stride combination under some trees, both of which made a hash of numerous rider's scorecards.

The New Zealanders & Australians continued to dominate the event, by sheer numbers, and I even happened upon Nereo, Andrew Nicholson's No.1 Olympic hope, in the show jumping warm up being ably assisted by his team coach, plus Mark Todd on his very handy little horse, NZB Campino. These guys are going to be very hard to beat come July.

I also bumped into Charlie The Coffee Man to pay part of my "Eventing Live For Charity" dues. Charlie, if you don't know already, is running his little legs off for Spinal Research (see link top left), and along with Claire Lomas is going to enormous effort to help this very worthy cause that is ultimately relevant to the eventing community. If you do find yourself with some spare change do drop it in Charlie's charity pot, and Claire has come up with a real easy way to donate to her fund - simply send an SMS that says "LEGS60 £(amount)" to 70070. See the top two links on the right to find about more about Claire's & Charlie's marathon campaigns.

I'm hoping to get back to Somerley tomorrow to watch some of the CIC**, and promise to try and remember enough to provide something resembling an event report, until then here's a few more photos:


1 comment:

  1. A great place for you and your horse pet to train and enjoy at the same time. Their tracks and field are very welcoming that when you see it, it will make want to start immediately.

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