|Bill Levett | Looking For The Next Fence|
Intermediate day at the inaugural KBIS Wellington Horse Trials provided a real treat of cross country action and plenty of great riding from a mixed group of riders. I’m not sure if it was just that I noticed it more today, or they were all on form, but just about every rider I watched today jumping was ‘looking for their next fence’ as they flew over the obstacles – almost no one was looking down as you can often find. It makes for a great photo!
I had two reasons to be curious to visit Wellington today. Firstly, about 6 years ago when I thought about having a break from technology I interviewed for the top job at Wellington Riding Centre, and after 3 rounds of interviews they quite rightly chose a more experienced candidate, former international show jumper John Sillett, and I stayed in technology and went on to sell my next business for a good return, so all’s well that end’s well! Secondly, and more importantly, Wellington has taken over the slot in the calendar previously held by my all time favourite event to compete at – Highclere Horse Trials. (I’ll lament on that a little later).
It would seem the organising team literally picked up the whole horse trials from Highclere after Lord Canarvon could no longer accomodate the event, due to other commitments. Many of the cross country fences were transported to Wellington, and along with some ground work and a few fences borrowed from the Olympics, Wellington was well placed to run Pre-Novice, Intermediate & Advanced classes on it’s secondary site in Heckfield.
|Paul Tapner & Supreme Watts | A High Cruising Speed For Such A Small Horse|
Two intermediate classes ran today, an Open Intermediate, and the OI under 21s, which included Emily King having some, [quote] “bonding time”, with Apache Sauce, previous ride of her mother’s. Mary was also at Wellington today with Cavalier Venture, on whom she won Intermediate section H, looking no worse for wear after the pressures of the London 2012 Olympics. Another King having a good day was the on form Kitty King, who won section J on Persimmon, and not for the first time fended off the very useful looking Indian Mill [Paul Tapner]. Overall I wouldn’t have said the course caused many problems, there were just a handful of jump penalties in each section, I didn’t witness any holds on course, but probably 65% of the field ticked up time faults. In a tweet Paul Tapner described it as a “testing XC track”, I don’t know why as he flew round clear – three times, and even managed to pick up a 1.6 time penalty for going too fast! But seriously, this venue does have similar terrain to Highclere on well established turf in a parkland type setting, albiet with fewer mature trees. The show jumping however did prove a little testing today, and I did witness quite a few horses slipping, including two that slipped right over in the same place on the flat.
|The Footbridge Fence|
I didn’t walk the entire cross country course today, but tomorrow’s Advanced course looks very interesting, I particularly liked the footbridge. There are three sections, and I’m in shock at seeing Mark Todd listed as he’ll surely be fresh off of a plane from New Zealand as would Jonelle Richards and Andrew Nicholson!
Along side these you’ll find a host of other London Olympians, plus the great and the good of four star fame. The forecast is showing some rain, but if you can bear it tomorrow’s Advanced class makes Wellington well worth a visit.
For now I’ll leave you with pictures of a few more people ‘looking for their next fence’, and a quick flash back:
|Not Quite ‘The Next Fence’ But A Nice Picture Nevertheless|
|Looking For The Next Fence|
|This Poor Guy Forgot Where His Next Fence Was And Had To Double Back, But I’m Grateful For The Picture|
|Looking For The Next Fence: I Think They Call This ‘Visualisation’ (Both Horse & Rider Blinked At The Same Time!)|
|The Farrier’s Dog: Looking For…..My Next Meal! (Typical Labrador!)|
Not that it should in anyway reflect upon the validity and virtues of Wellington as a venue, but I can’t help but lament over the loss of Highclere, which was the most fabulous venue and ancient park to ride around, now made internationally famous once more by the success of prime time TV show, Downton Abbey. The event was abandoned half way through in 2011, due to rain (imagine that!), but here is my helmet cam footage from my last run at Highclere in 2010: