When a journey that should have taken four and a half hours stretches out to seven — I’d thought people were still supposed to be at home but everyone was on the M25, M40 and M6 last Friday, clearly — you’re always going to appreciate getting to the other end.
When what’s at the other end is Bolesworth Castle, it’s even better.
Nina Barbour and her team at Bolesworth had pulled out all the stops, in about a tenth of the time an event such as this would normally be in planning for, to put on a spectacular NAF Five Star British Showjumping (BS) national championships.
Luckily, as the infrastructure; the stabling, marquees and everything else essential for such an event, had already been booked for the Al Shira’aa young horse championships this month, this could all be pulled forwards by a couple of weeks, or it would not have been doable.
It was still, Nina said, very tight, and thanks to the hard work of the whole Bolesworth team that it came off.
It was a packed schedule, fitting in not only most of the classes that should have run at the national championships had Covid-19 not come along, but also many that should have run at the spring championships at Addington in March.
There were of course some tweaks and changes as the show went along; Nina said it is difficult to take on someone else’s schedule at the last minute, and some changes were unavoidable, but overall, the reaction seemed to be that it was a great show.
Not just having a national championships at all — it was only a few weeks ago competition was even allowed to restart, thanks to the work the governing bodies had put in with the Government, and more recent that the show at Stoneleigh had to cancel — but that it was such a good one.
Sunday’s grand prix was a top-class competition, and Saturday night’s puissance was as good as any, but there was great sport at every level, and those I spoke to at every level, from 60cm club classes to the grand prix, were nothing but positive.
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The repeated themes were how lucky grassroots riders were to be able to jump at such a top venue, how well organised it was, from classes to the cleanliness of the stabling, and just how nice everyone was there — not to mention the opportunity to buy pictures of you jumping your horse against the castle, and with the moat in the background.
Not only that, the feel, despite the lack of spectators and while all the Covid rules were adhered to, was absolutely that of a championship, and that’s to the credit of everyone involved.
There have been and will no doubt continue to be a lot of positive things that have come out of the bad situation we’ve all found ourselves in this year. This championships has definitely been one of them.
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