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Wouldn’t it be great if we could revamp our county shows with international status?

British Showjumping (BS) has put a lot of money into the International Stairway series with the view of developing young horse and rider combinations with a future on teams. But what we are seeing is the same really good riders on the national circuit do well — and no disrespect to them, but how many of these actually have a Nations Cup horse?

The circuit serves them well but all the money put into county shows hasn’t fulfilled its purpose. It’s time to take a second look and see if we can run at least three or four county shows at international level.

Yes, you could run more young rider classes, but the sport has changed. When a rider reaches a certain standard now, the only thing that benefits them is world rankings points.

The UK now offers three-star and four-star shows like Bolesworth, South View and Keysoe, whose organisers do a fantastic job raising money and having the enthusiasm to put on a show and draw in an audience.

But don’t forget that county shows have a ready-made crowd — the New Forest brings in around 100k people across three days. Whenever I’ve jumped there, the stands are packed and it’s the same at Suffolk, Norfolk and the Great Yorkshire.

We’d need to do some work making the surfaces more consistent, and modernising the entry system — plans can change at the last minute with team selection and horse lameness, but at county shows you have to enter weeks in advance. It could improve the entries greatly if they could be more flexible.

Perhaps we could raise with each of British Showjumping’s regional development officers the ambition to put on two international shows in their region each year. The national shows without doubt need fresh input.

Hey big spenders

Since Big Star’s retirement and the retirement of Hello Sanctos from championships, the British team have been a bit lacking in horse power, so it is interesting to see that there are some UK riders spending big money to acquire top horses.

Last month, Alexandra Thornton paid a rumoured £10million for Cornetto K, who is probably one of the top five horses in the world, and it could well prove a formidable force.

Emily Moffitt hasn’t been afraid of spending money either, and she is rumoured to have spent £20m on her string — so these girls can stand toe-to-toe with any buyer in the world.

It will be interesting to see whether team selection continues to focus on the old guard, who have been fantastic most of the time, but are now approaching 60.

With these combinations coming through and the outlook of our youth teams, I fully expect the focus to change. This won’t be easy and will take time as integration of new horse/rider combinations doesn’t happen in five minutes.

On another note, full marks to Lord Mornington at Wellington Riding in Hampshire. He has completely renovated his old riding school to a big new outdoor arena, a really big indoor and a smart new cafe and tack shop. It’s great to have someone putting money into a modern facility that can be used for the good of our sport.

Ref Horse & Hound; 26 October 2017