I’m sorry if you were hoping to find some detailed wordy event report full of superlatives and mentions for owners, the breeding of horses, and other uninteresting facts, because you won’t find it here. For that you’ll need to try the Horse & Hound or Eventing Magazine.
Hambleden doesn’t normally feature in my blog as it’s usually on my own calendar of events, but this year I visited in a supporting role, which meant a little spare time to take a few photos and video, and chat to a few old faces I would otherwise not have time to talk too.
If you’ve never been to Hambleden (as a competitor) then I highly recommend giving it a try, if only for the bluebells! It runs a decent Pre-Novice & Novice as well as a really nice Intermediate that’s not too strong, just challenging enough not to put off those rising from Novice, and bearing in mind it runs early in the season (well early for me anyway).
This year the ground was good-firm, the firmest I’ve ever seen it here, but this really only affects the show jumping, as a good deal of the cross country is through woodland, littered with bluebells. The lorry park was busier than I’ve ever seen it, to the point where one poor competitor trying to leave got on the wrong side of Pippa Funnell’s frustration at being parked on the end of a busy thoroughfare as her horse shy’d whilst having studs inserted.
Ringside at the show jumping arena was 2 or 3 cars deep with spectators and the picnic brigade, and judging by the constant warnings about how narrow the track was through the woods there were plenty of people out on the course too. Fun for all ages is probably what the brochure would say.
I suppose running after Badminton (it’s usually run earlier) meant attracting more big names and therefore crowds, but quite honestly the vista from this showground nestled in the surrounding hills with Red Kites flying high and the woodlands sporting a carpet of bluebells should be enough to attract anyone at a loose end on a Sunday with mild interest in horses.
I have no idea who came where, but you should be able to find out all of that on bdwp.co.uk. What I can tell you is the top flight of eventing’s elite were out en mass. I spotted William Fox-Pitt, Andrew Nicholson, Badminton winner Paul Tapner, Mark Todd, Zara Phillips, Pippa Funnell, Daisy Berkeley and host of others fresh out of the Badminton line-up, all in good spirits, and all none the worse for wear.
I did manage to spot the most fantastic appaloosa too (see video). This lovely energetic horse proved lively in the Dressage warm up and then in the show jumping, unfortunately home time came before its cross country so I’d didn’t manage to capture that.
You wouldn’t call it a particularly undulating course, but with a few twists and turns, and a ‘quarry’ to go through, making the time really does mean stepping on the gas.
Anyway I hope you enjoy the video clips and make a note to look this event up early next season.