Robert Smith: England is the best place to make horses *H&H VIP*

  • I missed riding at the Great Yorkshire show again this year, after I broke two ribs last week in the jump-off of a class at South View.

    My horse Candy Boy split his legs over a back rail; I went over the top and was kicked down the ring. I’ll be out of action for another three weeks — it’s one of those occupational hazards.

    The Great Yorkshire is a show I have grown up with and I always compete there if I can. For me, it is the best county show on the circuit. It has a great atmosphere and a fantastic grass ring, which is enjoyable to jump on when we see synthetic arenas so much of the time.

    The Cock O’The North was as strong a class as ever, with the lead changing hands right up until last draw. It was good to see someone different — Douglas Duffin — win.

    They are a partisan crowd and, as a Yorkshireman, it has always been one I wanted to win. I first won it at 17 on a horse called Upton, tying on the exact same time as John Whitaker and Ryan’s Son. There was a big finish, with a line of fences along the grandstand, and after two years of trying, it meant a lot.

    It was disappointing to be on the sidelines this time around as I had a couple of young horses I was hoping to jump. Hopefully next year I will be back.

    The next generation

    My daughter Chloe jumped at the Great Yorkshire on the horse I planned to ride, just having a fence both days. She is now 19 and has been helping to keep things ticking over at home riding the young horses.

    After a couple of years out, I’ve been getting back into competing. I’ve pinched a couple of Chloe’s horses, which she wasn’t too happy about! She has some nice novices and making them is something she will need to learn to do.

    This is the best time of year to jump in England. There’s Bolesworth, the Derby meeting and the Great Yorkshire in succession, and there is no real reason to go abroad.

    A lot of the county shows have been making a real effort. Suffolk and the Royal Highland were both excellent this year. There are a lot of people trying to lift their game, and they should definitely be supported.

    I still believe England is the best place to make horses. Going abroad is costly and 90% of the time you are jumping on a surface over plain obstacles. Plus there is not always great prize money on offer outside of the rankings classes.

    Fingers crossed

    The European Championships are ever more at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment, and I think Britain can be hopeful of securing its Olympic qualification at Aachen.

    Di Lampard, the World Class performance manager, has done well so far this year. She has some good horses to pick from and we are in a decent position. You can’t tell what happens until you are at a championship, but we’ve had our share of Nations Cup wins and they remain as good an indicator as any of European form. They are big events that get you used to the pressure, and there is a different kind of pressure involved in team jumping.

    • Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Robert Smith in H&H next week (30 July 2015).

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 23 July 2015