Opinion

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The team at Burgham did everything they could to keep running last weekend after heavy rain. But having moved the dressage and then the showjumping for the international classes into the immaculate indoor school at Alnwick Ford Equestrian and initially cancelled only the national sections, on Friday evening they were forced to abandon the whole event.

I had looked forward to my trip to Burgham — it’s a while since I’ve visited a British event that I haven’t attended before. In the end, I travelled home without ever seeing the event site. Those who went on Saturday reported it was waterlogged, which I suppose was a good thing, as it would have been even more gutting to feel it could have been usable.

The blazing sun as we drove the length of the country back to London must have felt a serious affront to organiser Martyn Johnson and his team. These situations are incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, as well as having serious financial implications.

Riders will weigh up re-route options now, especially for horses aimed at early three-day events, including Badminton. Belton and Burnham Market were wait-listing new CIC3* entries as H&H went to press. Those with big strings may already be up to capacity at those events and have to consider juggling their rides.

This year’s stars

The Burgham team generously offered riders the chance to school round a Di Boddy-designed showjumping track in the indoor arena. The horse who seriously caught the eye was Tom McEwen’s ride Toledo De Kerser, who makes his British CCI4* debut at Badminton.

Nicola Wilson led the CIC3* dressage on Annie Clover, who is also Badminton-bound, but did not stay to jump on Saturday.

In the CIC2*, Ludwig Svennerstal topped the first phase on 10-year-old Stinger, a new ride for him last year who has showjumped up to CSI3* level, but who he said is very much developing in the dressage. The Swedish rider hopes he will be his mount for the European Championships in Strzegom, Poland.

Stinger has not yet done a three-star, so getting him ready for the Europeans by August may look like a stretch, but the maestro Michael Jung has something similar planned for his championship campaign. He intends to ride Lennox 364, who has also not competed above two-star yet. He will mimic FischerTakinou, who won individual gold for Michael at the 2015 Europeans after stepping up to three-star that year.

A cut above

Watching some 55 rounds of showjumping on Saturday, I was struck by the difference between the good riders and the excellent ones. Everyone here was capable of jumping round a 1.20-1.30m track, but Ludwig, Tom and Oliver Townend were in a different class.

The top jockeys have perfect control over their bodies. This means they can give exactly the aids they want, when they want, without ever being caught off balance and so giving an unintentional signal or unbalancing the horse.

It’s not rocket science, but seeing a couple of hours of jumping up close in a schooling environment really brought home to me what the rest of us must strive towards.

Ref Horse & Hound; 30 March 2017