Because we don’t have a championship as such this year, the New Zealand team targeted Aachen as a team event at which we wanted to do well, and we had a pretty strong squad there.
Aachen is always an amazing show — even the showjumpers say that it is one of the best in terms of organisation, hospitality and facilities.
Every time I go there more facilities seem to have been added, and there was a new covered warm-up arena this time.
The eventing dressage and showjumping had been moved — because of the dressage and showjumping European Championships taking place at the same time — to a grass arena, which is normally the driving arena.
The New Zealanders all felt that we had underperformed in the dressage. I had a senior moment and went the wrong way, which didn’t help, but NZB Campino’s test wasn’t even near his best, and my team-mates felt the same about theirs.
I don’t think the showjumping was as big as it normally is, but it was a very open, galloping course and caused enough problems. Jock Paget was the only one of our team not to jump clear, and we closed the gap a bit on the Germans.
The cross-country, too, had been softened a bit — for example, I thought the first water was a bit kinder than it has been. There were still plenty of places that you needed to be accurate, however, and fence 16ab, two angled hedges, caught quite a few out.
Tim Price was the only one of ours to go inside the time, but I was thrilled with Campino, who was five seconds over the optimum — he’s back to his best this year and he handled the tight track really well. I’m looking forward to taking him to Pau at the end of the season.
The Germans had three inside the time, and ended up beating us by about six marks. The German team don’t make mistakes. They are very professional and thorough. To beat them, everyone has to up their game.
Ingrid Klimke thoroughly deserved her first and second. She has two very good horses and is riding better than ever.
You need a specialist
Gatcombe is now something of a unique event in the calendar, and one you almost need a specialist horse for. I didn’t run NZB Campino across country; he has had an injury in the past and I didn’t think going flat out up and downhill on a camber was the best thing for him.
But I liked the course, and Mark Phillips’ changes to it were interesting and worked well. I thought they had done a great job with the ground. It’s a terrific spectacle for visitors as well.
But people just aren’t used to running on that sort of terrain anymore and we are more protective of our horses.
The first prize in the open is good — £5,000 — but that doesn’t buy you a new horse.
Speeding up the jumping
With the showjumping at one-day events, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have the next rider already in the ring when the one before them is jumping, as they do in pure showjumping classes — where sometimes the next two are actually in there?
It would help speed things up, and would be good education for younger horses to spend more time in the ring.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 20 August 2015