H&H eventing editor Pippa Roome started her three-day reporting stint at Houghton Horse Trials in monsoon-like conditions and ended up with a burnt and peeling nose. Enjoy her highlights of this popular event, where the British team won the Nations Cup competition...
• Most thrilling Houghton cross-country moment: watching the end of the FEI Nations Cup with the result coming down to the final rounds from riders from each of the three leading nations: Britain, Germany and Australia. Gemma Tattersall put her foot to the floor on the inexperienced Chico Bella P to seal victory for Britain with a fantastic clear in the time.
• Only in England: on Friday morning, it rained so hard I did wonder whether I could possibly fulfil my entire reporting duties without leaving the marquee. Happily, it did let up and on Saturday, I managed to get sun/windburn because it was so bright, but still so chilly I forgot the suncream (I’m paying for it now, my nose is peeling). By Sunday, the temperature was positively tropical.
• Unsung heroes: the scorers, for letting me sit in their portacabin with my laptop plugged in when it ran out of battery while I was writing on Sunday.
• Most scary cross-country moment: seeing Tim Rogers’ one-star ride Nota Bene get stuck in the Suzuki elephant trap, a big parallel two-thirds of the way round the course. The pair missed their stride and went through the rails. The frangible pins did their jobs and broke, so the poles dropped, but Nota Bene somehow ended up with his off fore on the ground on the landing side and his near fore hooked up over the back rail. Happily, he remained calm and managed to get himself back into the middle of the fence. The course-builders were then swiftly on the scene to move the rail so he could walk away.
• Horse I most wanted to take home: Alex Liddle’s Romeo Z (pictured), who was third in the CCI**. He looks like an overgrown pony — he is part-Connemara — but he’s a really careful jumper with bags of ability and looks fun to ride.
• Drink up: now, we know eventers like to enjoy themselves, but did you have to drink the bar completely out of Pimm’s?
• Bad luck story: Logan Rawlings, who had to hang on tight during an awkward leap with S Prit Coeur Volant in the CCI* showjumping. She stayed on and recorded a clear — but her efforts were in vain as she was eliminated for failing to go through the timing markers.
• We’re concentrating, honest: some members of the press were seen to be slightly distracted by an iPad during the closing stages of the CCI** showjumping — which coincided with the end of the showjumping at Saumur. I won’t name the Bill Levett fan club, but congratulations to the winning British-based Australian, and his ride, Clare Prentice’s Shannondale Titan, as well as to the Houghton winners.
• Poetic justice: in finishing second in the CCI*, James Sommerville’s ride Talent gained his qualification for the British Novice Championships at Gatcombe. He should actually have gained it in a recent novice regional final at Floors, but his dressage sheet was added up wrong, giving him 32 instead of a correct 27. By the time connections realised, it was too late to object. Happily, the seven-year-old now has his ticket.
• What a setting: Germany’s Ingrid Klimke said she “felt her heart open” walking the course in the beautiful park, with the deer. It’s easy to start to take our access to grand estates for granted in eventing, but we are always privileged to be there. From Houghton Hall providing a backdrop for the main arena, to the lovely converted stable block by the dressage arenas, to the glimpses down avenues of trees on the cross-country course, this is a real gem.
Read a full report from Houghton in H&H this Thursday, 30 May.