Monday, 30 July 2012

London 2012 | Dressage, Drama & An Inspirational Leader Board

Truly Inspirational | Day 2 of London 2012 Olympic Eventing
The lead up to these games has been nothing short of an epic novel or Hollywood Blockbuster. You really couldn't make this stuff up. Day 2 of Dressage for the London 2012 Olympic Games Eventing at Greenwich Park has been nothing short of inspirational, surprising and full of stories that will make this competition the most interesting of recent times.

Yoshi Oiwa | Leader After Dressage
It promised to be a truly ground breaking day of dressage, with an ample helping of World, European & Olympic Gold Medalists in the hot seat. I knew we might see a few more break into under 40s club, I think we were just a little surprised at who managed that and who didn't.

First on my watch list was Zara Phillips. To my untrained eye this was a beautiful test. Both horse and rider totally composed, soft, yet energetic and "in sync". 3 of the flying changes looked faultless, but perhaps not as expressive as judges seem to like to see. Lenamore threw out some nice extended trot but didn't seem to really steal the show today, and suffered as a consequence posting a score in the fifties. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

London 2012 | Team Talk - The 5 Nations

Team Talk | A Team Gold Medal for GBR Would Crown Both Of These Mens' Careers Nicely
I haven't played any team sports since I left school, a bit of Badminton doubles maybe or Sunday soccer, but that's as close as I've come to being in a team for some time. Eventing isn't really what you'd call a team sport, I mean it's not like they pass a baton to one another, but this is a home games and there are team medals to play for so I'll park that discussion!

What I love about the team game is how it highlights the uniqueness of the equestrian disciplines amongst the Olympic mix. Look at the ages of some of the guys in these teams; Mark Todd, Mary King, Andrew Hoy, Andrew Nicholson,- all in their 50's, these guys must have been born into the games, not to mention some of the showjumpers, and the 71 year-old dressage rider from Japan. To me this illustrates just how difficult it is to control half a ton of horse flesh around a given task, and how much effort, skill and experience that requires. Yet we also have some of the youngest competitors giving these living legends a run for their money, now that's real talent! I just wish our only Rolex Grand Slam winner, Pippa Funnell, was in a position to challenge for a home games, that really would complete the set. 

Thirteen teams, from every continent bar Africa, are all dreaming of chalking up a victory of some sort in London. When you consider what you need to do just to get a team qualified for the Olympics - just understanding what's needed, let alone qualifying, it's quite an achievement in a sport such as ours for so many to get a full squad to the games. Hats off to them all!

Friday, 20 July 2012

London 2012 | History In The Making & Dream Headlines

Sadly No Fairytale Headline For Neville Bardos, But Perhaps A Medal & An Underwear Deal For Boyd
One of the legacies I'm left with after five years of living with a broadsheet journalist is the little game of "Guess Tomorrow's Headline" we played as we waited for the morning papers, each paper adding their own particular style (or lack of it in the case of the tabloids) to the big story of the day. Every single Olympian must dream of winning one of those shiny metal medallions, and speculate over the headlines in the national & trade press the following morning. 

This year's Olympics, more than any other I can remember, gives rise to so many dream headlines depending on the winners, losers, lovers and sinners from the eventing world stage. Just run your eyes over the long list of horses and riders in the line up for the eventing at Greenwich and it's not hard to image what any number of headlines, littered with superlatives, might read given the number of hugely popular combinations dreaming of making history in the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Barbury 2012 - CIC*** Cross Country | #EventingLive At It's Very Best

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury | Lead The CIC*** From Start To Finish
The New Zealanders owned Barbury CIC*** from the very beginning, and very nearly gave it all away in the closing minutes of the competition. After phase 2, the showjumping, all three top slots were occupied by much fancied NZ team selections; Andrew Nicholson, Jock Paget & Mark Todd.

Jock Paget | The Long Walk Home
Barbury 3* always finishes with the cross country phase, and run in reverse order, creating the perfect climax to the weekend of sport. Jock Paget, in second place and second last to go, left the start box cruising through the first part of the course on Clifton Lush with very little to do in order to prove his worth, but tipped up at the first water, not a difficult fence, but one that perhaps required too little effort to ride through. They were reunited for the long walk home but of the competition. Fellow kiwi, Mark Todd was already on course ahead of him, and seconds later eliminated himself by missing out a fence.

Andrew Nicholson & Quimbo | 2nd in the CIC***
This left current leader, Andrew Nicholson, with an 8 point advantage over this other horse Quimbo before leaving the start box. Nicholson left nothing to chance and cruised around the course under the optimum time on Avebury to secure 1st and 2nd slot.

The New Zealand Team are announcing their riders tomorrow, in a pub, not too far from me! Even with Mark Todd's senior moment, and Jock Paget's ducking at Barbury, it would be hard to imagine good reason why either of these two won't be joining Andrew Nicholson on the team.

Barbury 2012 | The XC Style Council

Sinead Halpin
Whilst going through my photos from today's epic action at Barbury Castle Horse Trials I've been thinking "I wish I could ride like that!"

So before I gather my thoughts on all that I've witnessed today at Barbury in a wrap up, here's a few photos of the most stylish riders I've watched glide round the Wiltshire hillside. If I could ride one side of a horse as well as this group I'd die happy!