Monday, 30 April 2012

The Safety Pin Rule | Keep, Amend Or Remove?

Astier Nicolas picks up 21 penalties at Belton CIC*** For Breaking A Frangible Pin

But Negotiates The Fence Safely To Complete
Some of the fall out from the problems on cross country at Rolex Kentucky, surrounds a FEI rule, and the 21 penalty points it imposes on any competitor breaking a frangible pin. A fate suffered by both Clark Montgomery & Andrew Nicholson at fence 9. In a recent podcast interview Andrew Nicholson made some interesting observations about how this can influence things depending on how a horse with a particular type of jumping style likes to moves over a fence, but he seemed to accept this was now part of the job and you just have to deal with it.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Virgin London Marathon - It Ain't Over Yet!

Claire Lomas With Tim & Lucy Henman
Former eventer, Claire Lomas has energised the eventing community into supporting Spinal Research and her quest to raise £50,000 for the charity, by walking the Virgin London Marathon in a pair of robotic trousers. Whilst the rest of the marathon field have long finished, Claire is setting her own pace aiming to walk up The Mall over the finish line a day or two after next week’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Digging Deep For Spinal Research | Charlie, Coffee, Charity & Runner Cam

The Eventing Barista At Work
If you've ever attended any of the one day events in the southern UK, chances are you've come across Charlie Massey, AKA "Charlie The Coffee Man", also know as The Eventing Barista. His 'Speciality Coffees To Go' are the best on the circuit, and like every good bar tender or barista has the conversation to match.

Thankfully Charlie attends all of my favourite one day events, and for some time now I have abandoned taking a flask with me when I compete, and just pitch up with a fist full of coins. For as long as I can remember there has always been a charity pot sat on the counter of his wagon, helping many of the charities that us eventers have an affinity with. This year it's Spinal Research, and already Charlie has raised several thousands of pounds for a cause that anyone who dons cross country colours can see is vital for our sport.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Badminton 2012 Cross Country - 11 Minutes You'll Want to Re-Live

Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials Press Preview Day
In a little over 3 weeks 80 or so horses & riders are going to descend on Badminton with dreams of galloping round the hallowed grounds of Badminton House, where eventing as we know it really began. Some will be coming to prove to selectors their horse is back on it's game after a long lay off, whilst others will be looking for the last minute slots on a team for the London Olympics, and the rest will no doubt be looking to pick up qualifications, from what might at first appear to be a less than competitive field, and perhaps pick up some prizemoney. For many I think this will include 11 minutes of cross country they will want to relive time and time again.

Hugh Thomas unveiled his cross country course today in the ritual that is Badminton Press Preview Day, a day that runs to tried and test format year after year. If any sponsor knows how to make the most of an eventing sponsorship it's Mitsubishi Motors - Press Day is just a small part of their plans, and this year for the first time will include a live internet broadcast of the end of day press conferences. The entry list this year is very interesting, one of the more interesting years I've see for some time. I have another post in mind for that later, but for the facts and figures fanatics, here's a couple of interesting facts:

1. There are more entries from foreign riders than Brits for the first time anyone can remember.
2. There are 3 World Champions in the field (Zara Phillips, Michael Young & Jean Teulère) - none of them have won Badminton before.
3. Andrew Nicholson has completed 31 times, and yet to win.
4. Two veterans are aiming for a record 8 completions (Comanche & Lenamore) Testament to the value of the short format in giving longevity to event horses.
5. There's one previous winning horse in the field - Inonothing (Paul Tapner, 2010)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Bright & Breezy At Larkhill

Salisbury Plain, not far from Stonehenge, is one of the UK's largest military exercise grounds, but it's also home to Larkhill Horse Trials, run over a point-to-point course. The open and exposed landscape may not have the hallmarks many associate with eventing venues, but it does attract many of the top riders who use it as a good building block in the education of their younger horses, and today was no exception. Mark Todd, Sam Griffiths, Chris King, Paul Tapner and a host of others were in attendance, all with lorry loads of green horses out for an educational run.

The Charlie Massey Cup Cake Shrine!
I had only intended to drop in briefly to deliver some madeleines for "Charlie The Coffee Man" to sell for charity as it seems there was a charity bake off going on in aid of Spinal Research, Charlie's cause for this year. #JustEatCake day spread from the coffee van all the way over to the secretaries office where a shrine to Charlie and his cause was set up selling cup cakes for the charity fund!

Everyone was talking about it on course, and I overheard several people pledging support, from all corners of the showground. The occasional hold in proceeding as we waited for horses to arrive in the cross country warm up, provided the commentators with plenty of opportunity to give the cause a plug.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Belton Horse Trials - The Benchmark For 2012

Belton Horse Trials | Hopefully A Sign Of Things to Come This Season
If today's conclusion to Belton Horse Trials is a sign of things to come over the rest of the season, this year will live up to all my expectations! Blessed with bright sunshine all day, the crowds poured out of Grantham and the surrounding area for what was a truly great day of Advanced cross country the likes of which you don't see very often. It was a day of fortunes won and lost, meteoric returns to form of riders & horses sidelined for one reason or another, and a little heartache too.

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury | Winners Advanced Section O
Three sections, 2 Advanced & 1 CIC***, with the challenge of a course with pretty good going, thanks to sandy soil, that would prove pretty impossible to complete without penalty. This left the leader board changing almost constantly in all three sections.

As this is cross country day, that usually means Andrew Nicholson dominates the action - and he did! He ran the three greys he has entered for Badminton, Shady Grey, Avebury & Mr. Cruise Control. He completely owned the cross country course, as he often does, and took the Advanced section O on Avebury, and slotted Mr. Cruise Control into 5th, both apparently run without really gunning it. Fellow New Zealander, Caroline Powell ran the wonderful little Lenamore round to finish 3rd just behind Sarah Stretton in 2nd.