Harry Meade: The beauty of the Event Rider Masters *H&H VIP*

  • The beauty of the Event Rider Masters is that the sport was no different — there are no new rules or scoring system — but eventing’s usual format was packaged for TV viewing purposes. This meant a smaller field of 40 competitors with no multiple rides, and the jumping phases in reverse order to build excitement.

    The coverage was livestreamed (with an aim to sell the TV rights in the future), which was easy to use and free; it was far more user-friendly than FEI TV.

    Interviews with finishers overlaid the live coverage so viewers could see both in split screen. As the cross-country unfolded, the three current leaders took their place on the podium, moving position when someone went ahead of them — as in televised skiing.

    Within minutes of the last horse finishing, the prize-giving took place on the podium in Formula One champagne-spraying style.

    This first attempt was watched by over 10,000 people in 37 countries. A lot of energy has gone into the Masters and it showed real promise.

    The CCI events will always be the pinnacle in eventing, and this is not an attempt to gazump them, it is simply a way to broadcast the day-to-day sport to an off-site audience, which will hopefully in turn boost the interest in the top CCIs as well as attract more people into the sport.

    Keep the Vicarage Vee

    There is always a spine-tingling buzz around Badminton, but this year the May heatwave brought in bumper crowds, and Michael Jung going for the Rolex Grand Slam added to the hype.

    Over the past three years course-designer Giuseppe della Chiesa has done a great job with the track and put his own mark on it. Fence dimensions at three- and four-star level are near identical, however a four-star question requires committed riding and relies on feel and instinct over tentative or backward riding that can suffice at three-star.

    No one expected the houses at the Mirage Pond to be so influential, expect perhaps the odd leg being left; it was surprising that horses backed off and several ground to a halt.

    The wide oxer in the Gatehouse New Pond was a clever question and jumped very well, and it was great to see the KBIS Vicarage Vee back. Certain fences become stale after time, or increasingly easy as horses and riders learn how to tackle them, but the Vicarage Vee does not need altering; it is a brilliantly clever fence that stands the test of time. Hopefully it will remain a consistent feature each year, like Hickstead’s Devil’s Dyke.

    The last fence that was very influential was the brush out of the Shogun Hollow, after which riders could almost start to count their chickens barring any mishaps, despite there being over four minutes to go. Perhaps there could have been more of a challenge around the site of the old Beaufort Staircase.

    It was a pity that the showjumping time was so lenient that it didn’t put pressure on. We saw the same thing at Burghley last year, with riders being able to school around and have options on the approach to fences.

    Badminton 2016 will go down as a piece of history with Michael Jung crowning La Biosthetique-Sam FBW’s career. One has to wonder, where does he aim him from here? Having won everything on the same horse, do they try to do it all again?

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 19 May 2016