The inaugural All England Show Jumping Championships are over and what a success they have been.
I will admit it took me a day or two to get used Hickstead’s usual tradestand areas being empty, so much so that on the first morning I lost my bearings at the back of the international arena. However, the atmosphere was still there. People still clapped and cheered, the collecting rings were buzzing and the chance to cover another show at this wonderful venue very much appealed to me.
The competition was just as fierce as it is at either of the two international meetings. But what really touched me was overhearing people’s conversations about how much it would mean to qualify for the main ring.
It is a special place, even without the thousands I am used to seeing here. In fact, I actually quite enjoyed the more relaxed ambience.
I almost let my emotions get to me interviewing Tim Davies after his All England grand prix win with Valentijn O. He was so full of praise for his horse, it was quite moving.
Louise Pavitt is no doubt doing a bit of post show celebrating now. She took all the young horse classes with Brendon Stud horses and finished the show with a 1.30m championship win on Jodi Streeter’s Tiore.
Leesa Long and Monica Ballard proved the strongest in the amateur divisions, which were exceptionally popular.
But it wasn’t all competition. The Bunn family had provided evening entertainment in the Beethoven Suite for those staying on site. I went up to watch the band “Bowman”, who were rather good, on Saturday evening and got a chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
This show looks set to become one of the must do events of the season. Well done to the organisers, for a first running it went rather smoothly. Long may it continue.