Opinion

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It’s now midsummer and, after a stream of spring three-day events, I’ve been enjoying a bit of “downtime” — two weddings and a holiday in Corsica. It feels like I haven’t been to an event for ages, but by next weekend we will be in full swing again. Barbury, Jardy, Aachen, Gatcombe — before we know it, it will be Burghley and we’ll be on the run-down to the end of the season, amazingly.

Barbury is one of the nicest one-day or CIC courses on the circuit, and I’m looking forward to the Event Rider Masters (ERM) class there. It will be the first time that the ERM team has run a whole event, so it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

The Barbury estate has a new owner — Nigel Bunter sold it last year — and I really hope that the event is a success again and that it stays in the calendar in the future.

I’m taking Leonidas II to Barbury and then to Aachen, which is one of the best shows in the world. It is one of the very few occasions on which eventers compete alongside the top showjumping and dressage riders, and it is a great privilege to be part of it. It is always a really strong competition to try to beat the Germans on their home turf, and a win there is definitely one of the things I would like to tick off.

‘I’m embarrassed’

In between the two, I am taking NZB Campino to the ERM class at Jardy, France — the second leg of the series to be run outside Britain after Wiesbaden, Germany, last month. I’ve never been there, but I’m told that it’s a bit like Tweseldown — on a compact site with sandy going and quite a twisty track. It will be exciting to be part of the ERM there — and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m still aiming for my first clear cross-country round in the series so far!

It’s been a hot, dry summer so far; thank God events now have access to ground management machines and that they use them. We rarely have to put up with hard ground now, and people are much more aware of the dangers of running horses on very firm going.

£150k for a novice

Someone asked me recently when I last sold a top horse, and it made me think about how the market has changed.

Since the new qualification system came in whereby horses and riders must achieve high-level qualifications together, it’s become hard to sell horses at three-star and above. It used to be that there was a market for a solid three-star horse, especially to riders from “lesser” eventing nations who wanted to aim for a championship.

Now everyone wants young horses, so their value has risen greatly. I’ve heard of people getting up to £150,000 for a top-class novice, albeit rarely, whereas it can be difficult to get that for a three-star horse — it means if you want to maximise your chances of making money, you have to look at selling them earlier.

Ref Horse & Hound; 6 July 2017