Normally we have a rest after Olympia and start competing again in February, so riding on New Year’s Day at the brand new Liverpool International horse show was a shock to the system, but what a way to see in 2016.
The show has been absolutely fantastic and we must give Nina Barbour and her team full credit for making it happen. Putting on this show was a very brave thing to do but it has certainly worked well.
The crowds were really enthusiastic, cheering as loudly for the winners and the losers.
From the riders’ point of view the main ring and collecting rings were a good size and the going was superb. The stabling in the car park worked well, as did two rankings classes every day, and the hotel next door was a perfect choice. All in all, this show was difficult to fault.
Apart from the top class jumping, one of the standout extras was the commentary before, during and after the competitions. Nick Brookes-Ward and Geoff Billington kept the crowd informed and amused. Geoff gave an insight into the technicality of the courses and explained why things went right or wrong for the riders; even if spectators were not familiar with the sport it was it easy for them to follow things.
I brought Lord Of Arabia, Echo Of Light and Ornellaia to the show. Since Olympia, Lord and Ornellaia had a short break but they were all in good form here and jumped well, especially Ornellaia in the grand prix.
• Next week: William Funnell
Ref: Horse & Hound; 7 January 2016