Opinion

Eventing is about being the best all rounder and it’s rare that one combination puts in the standout performance in every phase, but that’s what happened at Bramham with Julia Krajewski’s victory.

One of the criticisms levelled at dropping the dressage co-efficient this year is that an extremely good performance deserves a decent lead — losing the co-efficient brings all the marks closer together, so strong tests receive less reward.

With her 19.4 dressage score, Julia proved that a really stellar test can still earn that margin. Although she didn’t need it, she could have won with two showjumps down or 21 seconds over the time across country.

Some are saying the new scoring system renders the dressage pointless, but the way Bramham panned out didn’t actually feel much different to the co-efficient days. Decent leaderboard leaps have always been possible here.

In 2008, William Fox-Pitt and Navigator won the CCI3* from 16th after dressage. And in every one of the past 15 runnings, at least one horse has come from 30th or below after dressage to finish in the top 10. In 2006, Vicky Tuffs and Tudor Romance moved up from 49th after dressage to take third.

The under-25 class has sometimes been won on quite a poor score, but Emily King would have been second in the senior class. The comparison is all the more valid as the two CCIs shared a ground jury, so she was under the same dressage judges as well as tackling the same jumping tests.

Let’s have a clock

Bramham’s cross-country livestream commentators — Spencer Sturmey and Franky Reid-Warrilow — did a valiant job through a long day, but were hampered by delays of anything from a few minutes to half an hour in receiving riders’ finishing times.

This was particularly detrimental in the reverse-order CIC3*, where they couldn’t give any sense of how the leaderboard was changing through the final pairs. And in both this class and the under-25, the coverage cut out before they could report final placings, which is no way to finish any sport television programme.

The addition of a countdown clock on screen would greatly enhance this coverage.

The bar is so high

Returning to the eventing fray myself this year after a decade away has brought into sharp relief how high the standard is at the grassroots end.

A nice all-round performance of perhaps 65% in the dressage, one showjump down and a few seconds over the cross-country time lands you squarely in the bottom half of many BE90s or BE100s.

Fortunately most eventers enjoy competing to improve their own performance. A fun and satisfying day can be had without winning anything. But I have renewed admiration for those who event successfully at any level, particularly around another job.

On that note, Ireland’s Alan Nolan has just retired his four-star horse Bronze Flight. Alan works full-time for GAIN Equine Nutrition and “tries to ride three days a week before a big one”. The horse’s owner Carole Warren did all his fast work, but Alan and Bronze Flight completed six four-stars together.

The likes of Alan keep the dream alive for everyone who puts in the early mornings and late nights as an amateur competitor.

Ref Horse & Hound; 14 June 2018