It’s amazing to think this year was Houghton’s (pictured) ninth international competition. I was the first person to complete the three-day here at the inaugural event in 2007 — which sounds like an honour, except that as three-day events showjump in reverse order, I actually finished last.
The event at this beautiful estate attracted 17 nations this year. The strong entry despite the clash with Tattersalls is testament to the fixture’s popularity and the team’s work on the ground and courses.
Among the riders was Germany’s Sandra Auffarth, who rode world champion Opgun Louvo in the combined training, an appearance that slipped under the radar of most. The pair will now stay with German team trainer Christopher Bartle until Bramham CIC3*.
Being a selector must be a nightmare, with little praise if you get it right but plenty chipping in if it doesn’t work out.
If selecting for a three- or four-star championship is difficult, spare a thought for those choosing teams for the Pan American Games in July. The event is at two-star, meaning they can take anything from successful campaigners at that level with no experience above it up to four-star performers.
Choices will be informed by a nation’s aims. For the Americans, this means Olympic qualification through finishing best of the unqualified teams. But the pressure is now slightly off as their strongest competitors, Canada, qualified after the elimination of France from the World Equestrian Games team results following Maxime Livio’s doping case.
The American selectors have picked a quartet including two championship debutants (Marilyn Little and Lauren Kieffer), plus a combination with a top-10 four-star placing (Phillip Dutton on Fernhill Fugitive or Fernhill Cubalawn).
For those with their qualification — Brazil, as hosts, have theirs, as well as Canada — national pride is still at stake. And for many nations, medals mean funding.
Canadian team coach Clayton Fredericks was at Houghton checking out British-based pairs. Kathryn Robinson could well get the trip with Let It Bee, who was seventh at Pau last year. They await the selection announcement which was due to be after Bromont last weekend, while the Brazilian list is also expected imminently.
Horses of a different colour
I love seeing unusual coloured horses eventing. Two caught my eye at Houghton. Tim Cheffings contested the CICO3* on the spotty Colby II, who heads to Luhmühlen CCI4*, while the palomino The Milky Bar Kid was in the CCI2* under Australia’s Camilla Neil Martin. Watch out for them if you share my penchant for a kooky coloured.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 4 June 2015