William Funnell: Pioneering technology? Yes, please *H&H VIP*

  • What a step forward it would be if the new technology that was introduced at CHI Geneva could help the public to understand the technicalities of modern showjumping.

    Systems like PlayfulVision’s are especially useful for indoor arenas, where the balance of horse and rider, distances and getting inside the time are all critical.

    In football, it’s possible to collate the data for every player, looking at how far he’s run and how many times he’s touched the ball.

    Wouldn’t it be great if that technology were easily available in showjumping — calculating average speed, top speed, the number of strides each rider puts between each fence and analysing inside and outside lines? If it could measure the length of a horse’s stride it could assess the difficulties of long and short distances relative to an individual horse, and how good the rider is.

    It would be fascinating for me to see how Marcus Ehning or Scott Brash kept his horse balanced but put in two strides fewer than I did, had a smoother round or went inside the time. Not only would it be a fantastic thing for the spectators, but also a great training aid.

    It would also be a boost for livestreaming if in one corner you could see all these details as a rider competes.

    ‘He oozed class in every way’

    I was lucky enough to do some Nations Cups under the late team manager Ronnie Massarella, who died last week. He made representing the country even more special as he was such a great man, who oozed class in every way.

    Always immaculately dressed and an unbelievable ambassador for Great Britain, he had the respect of every rider who rode for him. He was Italian, but very British in his stiff upper lip and you knew you couldn’t overstep the mark.

    As a chef d’equipe, no one before or after him has had his aura. We are lucky that Di Lampard served under him and so we still have that link with his legacy.

    Banishing the sales stigma

    It was sad to hear that Holly Gillott’s horse Dougie Douglas will be entered into Goresbridge’s supreme sale of showjumpers next month. It’s a shame to lose him as a Nations Cup horse for Britain, but horses are such a valuable commodity that you can’t blame people for having to sell them.

    From a producer’s point of view, it’s interesting that she has made the brave decision to put him under the hammer. Historically, sales haven’t worked well in England because good horses often don’t go in them. There is a stigma attached that it’s the horses we want to get rid of that are sold this way, not the quality ones.

    This is a bit of a British thing — sales work well in Europe and a few top horses have changed hands this way. It’s good for breeders and the sport if quality horses are put forward at auction. Sales are very transparent — people know what commissions they are paying and to whom, and that’s a positive.

    We’ve never been ones to use sales, but for this reason we’re putting in a couple of our top young stallions at Goresbridge, including a three-year-old full-brother to Billy Angelo who is now backed and riding.

    In a pre-Olympic year it will be interesting to see what happens. Dougie Douglas has been an asset to the British team and I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes seven figures.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 29 October 2015