The fire in the multi-storey car park which ended the show in such dramatic circumstances was devastating for everyone, especially the people who lost cars and belongings, but the main thing is that no people or horses were seriously injured.
Luckily, we were among the first to get our horses out of the car park stables and on to our lorry and we drove straight home.
It was a cruel blow to Nina Barbour, but all credit to her team, security staff, fire service and to equestrian people in general who pulled together and did their bit to make the best of a bad situation.
This was the third year I have competed here, and as Nina and her team got the formula right the first time, there has been no need to change anything, because it works.
I’ve had a good couple of weeks with Olympia, Christmas and Liverpool and, before the fire, I was happy at the way the year was ending.
I brought younger horses to Liverpool and Top Dollar gained valuable experience at Olympia and he’s jumped brilliantly here.
I understand space and exercising is often an issue at venues such as this, but one thing that could be considered is giving riders a warm-up session with a couple of fences the day before the show.
Everyone here seemed to be in an “end of year let’s go for it” mode which made all the classes very exciting, which is great for the crowd.
As you would expect, Kelvin Bywater and Bob Ellis set typically testing courses with plenty of technicality for both professional and amateur riders. They’ve been tough enough, but fair.
John and I train a couple of amateur riders and it’s been nice to watch those classes. Less experienced riders rarely get a chance to compete in an atmosphere like this, with the crowd so close, so it’s a big thing for them and throughout the classes it was a nice touch, to have Corinne Bracken (amateur) and Geoff Billington (4*) assessing the rounds.
Not every spectator understands showjumping, so by explaining the rules of the competition and what went right or wrong with rounds was very helpful, informative and often witty.
This show offered pure entertainment guaranteed to get everyone involved from start to finish with the Shetland Pony Grand National, Motocross, stunt riders and singers keeping spectators interested.
The glitzy podium prize giving is very different and has proved a real hit with riders and the crowd; it makes all the winners seem special.
It’s nice my Mum, Di Pimblott, is here stewarding, and my son Jack and we’ve all found plenty to do. For the past three years I’ve spent my birthday at Liverpool International Show and I’d like to think I’ll be back at the end of this year.
Ref Horse & Hound; 11 January 2018