I’m writing this during the final weekend of this year’s Atlantic Tour in Vilamoura. We must have been travelling to Portugal for these shows for the past six years and Vilamoura Equestrian Centre has certainly become a home from home. I wouldn’t swap it for anywhere at this time of year.
Of course, the unbelievable weather here helps. I’m not exactly looking forward to coming home to the cold, rain and what appears to be the virus from hell, but I’ll also really miss the whole atmosphere in Vilamoura.
The organisers are so helpful and friendly and the facilities aren’t just good for riders – the horses love them, too. There’s loads of hacking and turnout paddocks for us to use. In fact, Frenchman Michel Hecart’s horses have spent the whole tour competing from the field.
Another plus point is that unlike some tours where you’re stuck for weeks on a showground with little to do, once you leave the show here it feels like you’re on holiday. We stay in a lovely apartment and there are many places to eat and visit. You can be a tourist as well as a showjumper. The grooms aren’t forgotten either and are looked after very well.
“The future looks exciting”
My horses seem to have enjoyed it as much as I have and we managed plenty of wins and placings along the way. It’s been particularly good for the group of young home-bred horses we’ve brought here. It’s hard to get youngsters out when you’re chasing world ranking points most of the year and this tour has done them the world of good. The future for our team certainly looks exciting.
Every week there have been three ranking classes and you’re allowed to ride two horses in two of them. It’s a great way to introduce an up-and-coming horse to bigger classes as well as hopefully earning points on more established rides, which is another good reason to come here.
When we’re back in Britain, we’ll have a fortnight at home, then I’m off to the Hermès show in Paris then there’s Windsor to look forward to in May. I’ve certainly had a great start to the year. Let’s hope it continues the same way.
Ref Horse & Hound; 12 March 2020