Alice Oppenheimer: A championship with real buzz *H&H VIP*

  • I love the atmosphere of the winters, we don’t have any other show in the country with the same busyness and buzz to it. But that can make it a difficult arena for the horses. My ride, Joanne Graham Whelan’s Headmore Wimoweh (pictured at an earlier show), coped well on the first day, being placed in both classes, but found it a bit much on the second.

    He’s very hot and noise-sensitive — I’m not complaining as those attributes will be great for grand prix, but for now he can be easily spooked.

    I did feel for Debby Lush, the judge at C, as I wasn’t sure we were going to stop!

    For anyone aiming to compete internationally it’s great exposure for the horses. And for those who aren’t, competing here is a real thrill.

    Five of the freestyle winners were British-bred, which is fantastic. And I was so pleased for Sonnar Murray-Brown; his win followed a rough time after a horrific car accident. He was told he might never ride again, but he’s worked so hard and is back — as a champion.

    As the last ever open/restricted show, it will be interesting to see how the gold/silver/bronze system shakes things up.

    It was difficult for BD to invent a system that places everyone fairly. It’s still a bit confusing and some things need ironing out, but they’ve done a good job.

    I am pretty pleased to be straightforward gold at every level: please, nobody ask me to work out where they can compete!

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 14 April 2016