This show really has the atmosphere of an international. The gala evenings have as much atmosphere as any show in the world. With the acts and demos between riders you often find yourself warming up next to surprising sights. It’s just like at a World Cup show, where you might share the arena with a bouncy castle or the War Horse puppet.
That’s why Hartpury’s a super stepping-stone show, as well as a championship in its own right.
It’s fantastic for younger horses and anyone who has aspirations to compete on the indoor international circuit should make sure they do the winter series and try to get here.
The Brazilian Olympic eventing team came along to check out the show and were blown away by the quality of the horsepower we have here at national level. We’re so lucky to have a championship that is the envy of other nations.
Michael Eilberg (pictured, on Half Moon Dynasty) was a worthy winner in the inter I freestyle.
Matt Hicks’ floorplan on Excalibur was super, too — it was both clever and brave. It had a high degree of difficulty and was imaginative yet logical with great use of turns between the obligatory parts, rather than just rattling through the moves.
On the home front, my young horse Altogether Endeavour was placed at novice under Amy Francis, but he decided to show off his full repertoire of newly-learnt moves, including piaffe and flying changes, in his elementary. Not required at the level — but his enthusiasm for the sport is endearing never the less.
He’d been the jealous little brother to all our demo horses all week as we covered them with glitter and sparkles and must have been feeling like he was missing out on the fun.
Charlie Sawyer’s riding caught my eye — he’s got great feel. In his novice ride on Walking Tall, he presented such a big horse in great balance. He wasn’t placed, but he’s one to watch.
I was also impressed by Sadie Smith’s riding on the lovely stallion Spiridon. He was bred by Sarah Tyler Evans, who had a great show — as well as breeding Daisy Coakley’s medium victors Bing and Cleopatra II, she also bred Jo Hamilton’s elementary winner Corchapin.
I really don’t know why anyone would bother crossing the channel to buy horses with the quality being bred over here. Loads of British breeders are producing lovely horses capable of winning nationally — and looking like they have all the potential to be international horses.