Mark Phillips: This rule lacks common sense *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    Every week we lose more events to snow or wet ground. If this weather pattern continues, British Eventing (BE) cannot keep sanctioning events in early March. I dread to think of the ongoing costs in terms of abandonment insurance. If an event cancels three years running, it should be forced to move to a new date.

    When competitions do start in earnest, there is a new rule applying to combinations with three or more elements. It is not well written in either the BE and FEI rules and I had to “phone a friend” to understand when and where I was allowed to circle. To avoid disappointment, I’d recommend riders do the same!

    I know I’m old-fashioned, but I’m disappointed BE has adopted the “fall and out” rule. I know it is politically correct, but I’ve yet to find anyone with any knowledge or experience of hitting their head a second time after a fall.

    Traditionally riders have either gone off in an ambulance or ridden the rest of the course sensibly to the benefit of their horse. It’s sad that we increasingly have to legislate common sense out of the sport, yet still wonder why we cannot make it safe.

    Plans for WEG

    I’ve spent much of the winter at Tryon preparing for the World Equestrian Games, where I am the cross-country course-designer.

    Many of the fences are built and this week we are moving thousands of tonnes of dirt to soften the 70-foot climb in the eighth minute and to give the horses a smooth trip home over the final two minutes. Plans are in hand to have the irrigation in and multi-millions of dollars of turf laid by the end of April to create the end of the eventing course and the driving arena.

    This is quite a project and very exciting. The footing on the golf course is better than many riders will have ever experienced, but chefs d’equipe and riders will need a plan to manage the clock and the terrain to ensure horses don’t “hit the wall” at nine minutes.

    I was excited to see plans for Stuart Buntine’s event at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight in July. It’s a cross between a showcase and arena eventing and should be thrilling to watch.

    Earlier that month Barbury will have a completely new site layout and a different cross-country start and finish. I hope we can improve this unique spectator experience for the Event Rider Masters (ERM) and the other divisions. Blyth Tait will have input into the novice course, which I hope will give him a leg-up in the course-designer world.

    No ERM at Gatcombe

    As my son Peter takes over the running of the Festival of British Eventing, it was sad that one of his first phone calls was from Chris Stone saying that ERM had decided to pull out of the Festival.

    While ERM say that after two successful years they did not want to “dilute the value” of BE’s national championships and the British open by continuing to run a leg at Gatcombe and that they want to “partner events that match the needs of our [ERM] business, our riders, their owners, our commercial partners and our fans”, it did not feel like coincidence that the ink was hardly dry on the withdrawal from ERM of Land Rover — for 35 years a partner at the Festival — when Peter got the call.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 22 March 2018