USA Trip & Wellington Showcase
I have just got back from my third trip of the winter to the States. I was teaching a clinic at Barry Oliff’s fantastic place at Stable View in Aiken. I completed three days of teaching which I always enjoy. The Americans are very enthusiastic and keen to learn, so as teacher it is always enjoyable to be involved. Amber Lee did a great job organising it and had the sessions very well planned. We were very lucky with some lovely weather, but it was jolly cold in the mornings but thankfully the bright sunshine meant the days improved.
I then, on the fourth day, competed in the Prelim Novice equivalent on a horse of Boyd Martin’s called Tura Lura, she was a lovely mare and couldn’t have gone any better. She did a good dressage of 21, show jumped a lovely clear and felt fantastic cross country, clear inside the time to finish 2nd on her score of 21. There was unfortunately in our section an exceptional score of 17.5, but I was very pleased to finish 2nd and win a generous $400 for the 'Boyd team’. In Europe prize money is considerably less than that, but often in America you compete for no money at all, so we were very lucky. It was thanks to Barry Oliff for putting the prize money up.
After Aiken I was then heading down to the Showcase event at Wellington. This was a spectacular venue and a great showcase for Eventing. The Dressage and Show Jumping were of 3* level, having said that I don’t think I have ever seen an Eventing show jumping course quite so big!
The cross country was in two big fields and finished in the main arena, so the viewing was fantastic. It was a step up from the old express Eventing and had much more of a feel of true cross country on the course. It was of 3* difficulty which meant the course was a bit more serious than last year. It was very condensed and even though the speed was 535 metres per minute it did feel like you were going faster than 4* speed.
Overall the standard was very impressive, the dressage was good and there were a lot of good tests in the 20’s. I was very lucky to be loaned the ride on Steady Eddie, one of Boyds top horses and owned by George & Gretchen Wintersteen and Denise & Pierre Lahey. He did a very pleasing test of 31, which was with some good work but not good enough to be troubling the elders. The second horse I was loaned at the last minute by Marilyn Little was called RF Quarterman. He was also a lovely horse but hadn’t done an event for 18 months! He too did a nice test for 33 but showed a few moments of tension because he hadn’t been in an arena for so long. Both horses then show jumped really well and were unlucky to have a pole down each, however they still moved up in the order to roughly 15th and 21st place. The cross country also ran in reverse order which was very exciting and I rode Quarterman first. He gave me a really lovely ride but I was a bit steady on him for 5 time faults. He was very genuine on the corners and the skinnies, and felt a lovely fun horse. Steady Eddie went a little bit quicker for 3.4 time faults but gave me a super ride and really coped well with his new jockey, and amazingly he moved up the order to finish in a very pleasing 7th position. Quarterman also moved up the order to finish in 10th. However it was brilliant for Boyd Martin - a win for the third year in a row. He produced a class all-round performance and thoroughly deserved to win, in the end quite comfortably.
It was a great fun event organised by Mark Bellisimo and Jim Wolf, it really does get the season off to a fantastic start and was great fun to watch for everybody. I would really love to see the same idea coming over to Europe, however it should very much remain as a showcase and not become the normal sport of the future. It was certainly an exciting competition and really woke me up. Having not done an event since last October it was a little surprise and I am very glad to have survived! It certainly got the butterflies going. Looking to next year I am now really hoping to go back and it would be wonderful to be able to ride one’s own horses…..in my dreams!
A selection of photos of Steady Eddie taken by Cindy Lawler