We had some terrible weather at the Royal International this year, which was so unfortunate for the show organisers. The team did the best they could to keep the ground as good as possible and I thought moving the fences onto fresh ground for the second round of the Nations Cup was wise.

The grass surface in the main arena held up really well and it was a great investment installing the drainage system that’s in place in there.

The Bunn family are so accommodating and make all the riders feel so at home. I have been coming to Hickstead for more years than I can remember but have never had much luck, so it was really nice to get a winner early on in the week in the Bunn Leisure Trophy on Adare.

This mare jumped in the Nations Cup here last year with her owner Paris Sellon — who is my student — so I was lucky enough to get the ride on her this time.

As the USA did not field a team for Friday’s Nations Cup, I knew I could take a shot with her on the first day without having to risk it all.

I was pleased with how she went on to jump in Sunday’s King George V Cup to finish sixth.

My other ride in the main arena was another owned by Paris called Quantas 15, who hadn’t jumped since Hamburg in May, and I was thrilled with his two seconds.

Home comforts

I am based in the UK for about eight months of the year and then spend the British winter in Florida — which is great because it means I don’t have to get on an aeroplane for almost five months.

I love being based in the Cotswolds when I’m in the UK, at my partner Mark Phillips’ Aston Farm. We have every facility you could imagine and the horses are always so happy and relaxed there.

Zara (Tindall, Mark’s daughter) is also based on the farm and we have a lot of fun working together. Mark is a great influence and, although he’s super busy during the eventing season designing cross-country courses, he’s always willing to help me out — particularly on my flatwork.

It was a great win for the Brazilians in the Nations Cup and particularly refreshing.

I love coming to shows where there is a Nations Cup — even if I’m not riding in it — I think it adds another vibe and that is what the sport’s all about.

Hickstead did clash with other big five-star shows across the world this week, but I still think people take this Nations Cup seriously.

I noticed some of the foreign riders did leave straight after Friday’s Nations Cup to go and jump at other shows. However, I don’t think it affected the weekend’s sport.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 3 August 2017