Gatcombe blog: Festival of British Eventing first-timer’s thoughts

  • “Well done. Well done.”

    It’s a sunny Saturday and I’m sitting on the park bowl, above the lake at Gatcombe watching the cross-country during The Festival of British Eventing.

    Two young girls, about 10 years of age are sitting in front of me. They are having the time of their life watching their heroes tackle the eight or so jumps that can be seen from our vantage point.

    They are swopping knowledge — “That’s Lucy Wiegersma”, taking digital photographs and shouting encouragement as each rider passes within a hair’s breathe of their spot.

    This is my first time at Gatcombe and what a perfect venue. It is not only for first-class competition but also a great day out whatever age you are and especially with the family.

    Today’s classes, the Advanced and Novice Championship, are a triumph for the Australians. Locally based Bill Levett is winning the former on his relatively new ride Hippolyte and Brook Staples (DHI Vitesse) finished on his dressage score to secure the latter.

    But with constant reminders from the commentators of the start of the Games next weekend (don’t miss your H&H preview next Thursday and the first report covering all the eventing action on sale Friday 15th) all eyes are on the riders with an Olympic story.

    New Zealander Andrew Nicholson who, at my last count has 9 rides here, flies off to Hong Kong after tomorrow’s British Open. Lucy Wiegersma has brought Shaabrak, her Olympic ride, fresh out of quarantine, following what must be a disappointing lack of call up. Lucy had a great ride here last year and a win tomorrow would surely not go amiss. The pair are fourth overnight, following the dressage.

    So tomorrow looks to be an even more exciting day for my two young friends. As I leave they are in heated discussion, I imagine about whether Lucy might pull it off or Matt Ryan (overnight 5th) will make it a hat trick for the Aussies.

    We shall see.


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