Opinion

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It’s been a year of “girl power” — or maybe “mother power” — so far, with Jonelle Price winning Badminton eight months after having a baby, and Piggy French kicking off the Event Rider Masters (ERM) series for 2018 with her victory at Chatsworth. It was an all-female podium that day, and then Ingrid Klimke took the second ERM leg at Wiesbaden in Germany a week later. The women are certainly dishing it to us so far.

Piggy’s cross-country round at Chatsworth was outstanding and showed what a high-class rider she is. She gives her horses confidence and rides them fast without ever looking like she is hassling or hurrying them, and they respect her for it. With the horse power she appears to have, she is a serious competitor at any big event.

I thought Ian Stark’s cross-country track was a little more friendly than in the past, and that the ground was actually as good as it has been for a long time.

My little horse, Mc Claren, pleased me a lot. He went up through the grades very quickly last year and I had planned to have an easy build-up to the CCI3* at Saumur, but it didn’t work out like that. He had to go to the CIC3* at Belton after just one open intermediate run and felt a trifle green there, so when Withington was cancelled and he therefore missed another run, I was a little concerned about going straight to the ERM CIC3* at Chatsworth.

But he was fantastic there, so heads for Saumur. It’s an event I love, and while the ground hadn’t been that good there for a few years, they had improved it greatly for last year and I’m looking forward to it. It helps that the food and the wine are particularly good!

Chasing points

The cross-country track at Wiesbaden looked a little bit like an extended arena eventing course, but it certainly produced an exciting competition and high-class victors in Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD.

The ERM series keeps throwing up new winners and, while there is something of a clash with World Equestrian Games preparations this year, the overall title will come down to who is prepared to chase series points. I hope to get to a few more of the competitions.

Separate judges

As the FEI is trying to overhaul the format of three-day eventing, especially for the Olympics, perhaps it is time to try out a different method of judging and overseeing each phase.

There was a bit of “Friday afternoon fever” in the dressage judging at Badminton, and there has been little apparent consistency in disciplinary matters. Maybe eventing should adopt racing’s policy of employing paid, professional stipendary stewards who officiate regularly and should therefore provide more uniformity in decision-taking.

And there are any number of people — technical delegates, course advisers, stewards and so on — who understand the cross-country; do the dressage judges really need to oversee this section, or should they simply be experts in their area?

It would be interesting at least to trial a shake-up in the officiating roles at a three-day event; after all, the FEI appears keen on change in some areas, so why not try it in others?

Ref Horse & Hound; 24 May 2018