Showjumping enthusiast and showing judge Mary Allison makes an annual visit with friends to the Gala night.

The Blue Chip Championships gala night at Hartpury has such a warm, friendly, welcoming atmosphere, and socialising with friends and acquaintances, old and new, is a big part of my evening. Our meal was excellent — roast beef, fresh salmon, salads, a choice of sweets and cheese. I confess I had a little bit of everything. I’ll be good tomorrow!

Tina and Graham Fletcher were excellent choices for the masterclass lecture demo. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The whole thing was interesting and educational and entertaining, too. Tips us mere mortals wouldn’t think of became immediately clear in a ‘Why didn’t I think of that’ moment. They instantly made a difference. It’s the sort of thing that will help a lot of people — and the audience’s applause showed they appreciated their knowledge as much as I did.

I’m afraid the ‘Leaping Leprechauns’ wasn’t my thing, even if they jumped 1.60m on their own two feet! The junior challenge — pony riders jump against the clock ,then negotiate an obstacle course on foot — is getting a bit ‘old hat’ now. Wheeling a barrow of balloons takes too long. I’m sure it could be improved, but I haven’t got any suggestions!

Initially I thought the grand prix wouldn’t be a great class as so many riders are abroad, but it turned out to be one of the best classes I’ve seen. A couple of partnerships considered outsiders jumped good rounds, and the jump-off was exciting to watch.

I was thrilled to see Mark Bunting winning another big class in such good style. I’ve known him since he was a young boy.

All in all, I had a very entertaining and pleasant evening. I’m looking forward to next year already.

Mary