This “green and pleasant land” has long been known for its questionable summer weather but, with around 50 days eventing lost so far this season, it’s becoming clear that 2012 is a battle against the elements.
Salperton Park Horse Trials did incredibly well to run on Saturday but, even in a single day, the ground began to go. The showjumping warm up became increasingly tacky, and sticky patches on the cross-country saw horses having to make a big effort to jump the combination fences in particular. Salperton is a beautiful setting and one of the best one-day events on the circuit. Who can blame a landowner for misgivings when their beautiful park is churned into a muddy mess?
The knock on toll affects everyone, from the riders who are frustrated in their efforts to qualify, run, and educate their horses, to the owners who pay a small fortune to enjoy watching their horses compete. Horses have had such a mixed season with the hard ground in March and early April, to an enforced break in May. This followed by a couple of swift runs as events put on extra days, to another enforced break, and now soft ground. It’s not an ideal prep nor is it good for the legs and no matter how much fitness work you do, nothing equates a proper run at a competition.
Hats off to the Salperton organizers for running the advanced horses before the novices – they really do deserve the better ground.
Trading off with Sponsors
Spare a thought for the trade stands. They lost an enormous part of their annual income with the loss of Badminton, and now they are losing money week in week out with abandoned events and cold spectators who have no desire to shop.
Sponsors will be increasingly hard to attract as a corporate day out in a muddy field with either lashing rain or gale force winds, and the prospect of last minute cancellation will soon be surplus to requirements.
Bring on Barbury
On the plus side, we have Barbury International Horse Trials to look forward to this weekend. They kept going in atrocious conditions in 2007 so if the metcheck weather forecast is correct and the only significant rain we see this week is on Wednesday night – then it should be all systems go.
With a final trial on the cards for the Americans, the Irish and the Kiwis all due to announce their “five” on the Monday or Tuesday after – it is a much looked forward to occasion.
Many of the Brits have opted for the 2 star over the 3 star but most of the nations will be fielding their trump cards. With the stunningly good cross-country viewing, not a single mistake will be missed by selectors or the general public.
If you can’t get to the London Olympic Games this really is your chance to see the crème de la crème of eventing in action. Just hope you don’t need your wellies in order to do so!
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