Saturday, 30 June 2012

Barbury 2012 | Friday - Kiwis, Colletts, Coat Tails & Cross Country

Mark Todd & NZB Campino | Olympic Selection Contender - 5th After Dressage
The New Zealanders pretty much owned Barbury Castle Horse Trials today in the final day of CIC*** dressage, probably the largest, and most competitive 3 star class we've ever seen. With a truly international field of 110, four nations dominate the top ten, New Zealand (4), Great Britain (4), Australia (1), USA (1). The next ten tells a similar story with just Ireland's rising star Camilla Speirs on Portersize Just A Jiff in equal 15th, adding another nation into the mix.

I missed the rainy start to the day, and sadly also Phillip Dutton's ride on Mystery Whisper. I was however very pleased to have caught Mark Todd's ride on NZB Campino, probably his best team selection candidate for the London Olympics. Campino's test today might not have been the most exuberant & stunning we have seen over the past few days, or perhaps as good as his Houghton score in warm sunny conditions, but this was a very nice relaxed, athletic and correct test to score 44.0, just 2.4 marks off Andrew Nicholson's leading score of 41.6 on Avebury. I think Mark's horse has every chance of finishing on his dressage score here.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Barbury Dressage | Is Going To Be Interesting (No Really, It Will!)

Laura Collett & Rayef | Last Year's CIC*** Dressage Leader
 Barbury Castle Horse Trials is, along with many of the other European events, as the cliche goes, not a dressage competition. Last year, one of our rising stars, Laura Collett lead the dressage (and showjumping) on a sub 40 mark, one of only two, the other being eventual winner Pippa Funnell. Laura dropped to third after 6 time penalities on Cross Country - but I doubt a few time penalties was her key concern with European selection on the cards at the time. Rayef has continued to prove a strong performer in the CIC/One-day classes, only last week notching a 13 point advantage at Salperton. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Barbury 2012 | Officially Time To Get Your Games Face On

Barbury Castle Horse Trials | The Place To Be This Weekend
Wonder Horse Neville Bardos
Barbury Castle Horse Trials is about to become host to the most exciting pre-Olympic warm-up event ever seen. The Olympics being held on home turf has attracted the world's biggest names to camp in the UK during the build up to the games. The Australians & New Zealanders were first to arrive a year ago, joined by a smattering of other nations, including America's Tiana Coudray, who laid many a ghost to rest when coming second at Blenheim last year. She is now joined by the entire American Olympic shortlist, the latest contingent to arrive for their final selection trial at Barbury this coming weekend, including the two US wonder horses, Neville Bardos & Mystery Whisper.

Barbury has grown in stature over a very short space of time, and since the demise of Savernake Horse Trials, is my most local, and one of my favourite events in the calendar. Taking a look through the entry list for the CIC*** it's really hard not to get excited about the Olympics - it reads like a who's who of eventing, and pretty much anyone that is missing from this list can be found in the 3 CIC** sections, along side many of the horses that made Salperton so memorable.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Salperton Horse Trials: Rayef, The Kings & The Olympics

Laura Collett & Rayef | Open Intermediate Winners on a score of 25.0 (Dressage 21.4!)
Young Laura Collett illustrated that with all the stars aligned, and in the right circumstances she & Rayef are unassailable. With a dressage score any German would be envious of (a staggering 21.4) they led from the get go, winning their OI section by an equally staggering 13.3 point advantage finishing on a score of 25.0 ahead of the even younger Emily King (a surname that was to haunt me all day).

Salperton is hosted by Rayef's owner, Jason Houghton, on the most wonderful undulating parkland of magnificent, clover rich pasture. Walker Logistics, another Patron of Laura's were sponsors at the event, making this very much the Collett Eventing Team Show.
Chris King Racing Home To Take 2nd In AI Section F On Idol Hero

This being the heart of the Cotswolds, the course has plenty of steep inclines and descents on the way round, making it easy to bowl along on the forehand or run out of steam if not careful, but Laura & Rayef just sailed round, as did another of the leading Kings of this sport, Chris King. He rowed home one second over the optimum time looking every bit a NH jockey as he thundered past me on Idol Hero to finish second on a score of 28.9 behind yet another King, Kitty King, who won AI Section F on her dressage score of 27.9 aboard the fabulous little mare Zindante. By the way all of these King's are unrelated, and with so many of them being announced (Mary [King] also made an appearance)  I incorrectly tweeted earlier today that Chris had won this section. I'm very much looking forward to seeing more of these two horses and the Kings later this season (weather permitting).

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The TEAM GB Olympic Quest | Rockers, Ravers, Lovers & Sinners

WFP & Lionheart Headed To Greenwich | The Olympics Are So Nearly Here It's Scary
The waiting is over (well almost - we wait to see who is on the subs bench), Team GB Eventing has been announced amongst much comment, opinion, and heated discussion - it's all a little scary! Some are ranting, some are raving, and others are just loving the debate about selection choices.

The 5 members making up the team are:

Kristina Cook - (41)  Miners Frolic
William Fox-Pitt (43) Lionheart
Piggy (Georgina) French (31) Jakata or DHI Topper W
Mary King (51) Imperial Cavalier
Zara Phillips (31) High Kingdom

Zara Phillips | On The Team
Personally I think Zara is an inspired choice. The Olympics is nothing but pressure, and a home Olympics is like turning up the gas and leaving the lid on! Her horse has continued to grow, mature and improve event after event, and Zara has achieved more than any other her age at senior level. I would suggest aided by the fact that she can handle the pressure better than most due largely to the attention she attracts because of her royal connections.

If you look down this list you'll notice that each of these riders is predisposed to handling pressure very well.   I've always thought this is what separates the best from the very best, and given the right horsepower you'd expect to see Pippa Funnell in that list, given how well she has learnt to manage nerves when it matters most.