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Friday, July 25, 2014

The main arena in front of the Great Stables and you can see the white racecourse rails between the two

The racecourse with all weather track on the right and then the showground

Behind the Great Stables are two huge courtyards with garages for carriages which now house the museum

Inside the Great Stables

The main arena of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly CSI1* 2* and 5* Show is situated right in front of The Great Stables built by architect Jean Aubert between 1719 and 1736 for Louis-Henri de Bourbon-Conde. This truly breath taking building is the perfect backdrop for the arena - talk about location, location, location! 

The Great Stables were built to accommodate 240 horses, 500 hounds and 23 carriages and are considered to be the most beautiful in Europe. 

From the Renaissance with the Montmorency family then to the 17th and 18th century with the Conde family, Chantilly is the absolute reference for Hunting. Daily hunting expeditions took place in the forests bordering Chantilly and Kings and Princes from all over Europe came to hunt at Chantilly and to send their Masters of Foxhounds to copy the hunting of the Conde family.  

In 1833 by a stroke of luck four friends on the way back from hunting improvised a race on the grass field which separated the forest from the Great Stables. The winner Monsieur de Normandie attracted by the quality of the site and the elasticity of the turf had found the perfect place to organise races and in 1834 a racecourse in front of the Great Stables on that very same grass field was developed. In 1836 the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and in 1843 the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) were created according to the model of our Derby and Oaks run at Epsom.  

Today, Chantilly has  the biggest and most functional race horse training facilities in Europe. It represents 1900 hectares, of which there are 4 training grounds, 120 hectares of turf tracks, 120 km of sand tracks much of these are within 47 km of the original Forest. There are 12 km of 'obstacle', tracks and over 80 trainers and 2600 thorougbreds with about 4000 horses in total involved in either racing, polo, equestrian sports or for recreational riding within the area.  

We could not resist having a look inside the Great Stables, part of which is now a museum which is located in some of the 23 garages for carriages!  Quite a few of the stables are still in use and even though it was 33 degrees outside, we went inside, to discover that the enormous height of the building kept its current occupants - which included three shetland ponies - very cool indeed. 

I can honestly say that I have never seen anything quite so beautiful and to top it all Skye was placed in both the International CSI2* classes that she competed in today with Aresse M and Full Monty. 

News from Chantilly

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ariva as a three year old in Holland

A year later with Skye in the 4 year old finals at Scope

A very easy journey to Paris on Eurostar and then a train to Chantilly and a short walk to our hotel. We are staying about a mile from the show ground an easy and beautiful walk across the park land bordering Chantilly racecourse.

We went straight to the stables to meet up with Skye and whilst she rode, we walked round the showground and then into Chantilly, before all meeting up for supper at a restaurant situated just behind the Grand Stables.

Jamie Wingrove and his partner Kirsty who are good friends of Skye's joined us and the walk back to our hotel on a warm evening was a lovely way to end our first day in France. Jamie trains a young American rider who is competing at Chantilly in her very first CSI1*. Emily is only 16 years old and four years ago this autumn I sold Ariva Jensma to event rider Clare Valender for Emily (the daughter of Clare's owners) to ride when she was old enough. Ariva then moved to the USA where he has been very successful with Emily and he has now returned to the UK as Emily and her horses are now based in the UK and are trained and managed by Jamie in a purpose built yard near to Clare!.

Skye produced Ariva when she was with Dave and Shaz Quigley and Ariva went to Jamie and Kirsty on Skye's recommendation when he was ready to sell on and Skye was too busy to be involved in the viewings. Kirsty loved him to bits and wanted to buy him for herself! You can imagine their amazement when Emily sent them a photo of Ariva (when telling them what horses were arriving from the USA). The photo she sent was this one of Ariva and Skye competing in the 4 year old final at Scope Festival in 2009!!!. Emily was equally amazed when they told her that they knew Ariva and Skye very well indeed! 

Ariva is now 9 years old and I hope to go and watch him compete in the UK very shortly. He is being aimed at 1.40m classes. What a small world we live in and so lovely that Ariva has turned out to be such a star for Emily. 

I first saw him as a two year old in Holland when on a buying trip with Toni Potts. The Jensma part of his name is in memory of the late Meinte Jensma who died just before Scope in 2009 - he and his partner Paula found Ariva and I bought him from them. They were planning to come and watch Ariva and Skye at Scope. Meinte was a legend in 'finding' show jumpers and dressage horses - and the world famous Apollo ridden by the then 'young' Nick Skelton was one of them!

Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Skye is competing in Chantilly

We leave this afternoon for this CSI5* show which also incorporates a CSI2* and a CSIYH 1* and hope to arrive in time for the Horse Inspection at 1.00 pm. tomorrow.

Some of the very top riders in the world will be competing including GB's Ben Maher, current World Number 2, Skye's boss who is current World number 7. Kevin Staut - World Number 6 and the list goes on. In addition Edwina Tops Alexander who is leader of the Global Champions Tour - this is different to the World rankings-  will be competing and trying to stay at the top as this is the 9th leg of this tour which is only open to the top World ranking riders!

Edwina has a new ride, having recently bought, with her husband Jan Tops (the organiser and brains behind the Global Champions Tour) the 8 year old gelding - Ramiro Cruise - produced by Dave Quigley - when owned by my brother. Ramiro Cruise last jumped at Bolesworth and many of you may have seen him being paraded in the main arena with his sire Ramiro B who stands at Nina Barbours,  Hart Hill Stud.

The show is held in the middle of Chantilly racecourse and our daughter Skye is competing in the CSI 2* section. We are so proud of what she has achieved and she will be riding two horses for the Leprevost stables, whilst her boss rides in the 5* star section. The horses belong to Belgium and French owners although we will be cheering her on as a GB rider!

Three years ago, Skye was yard rider for Dave and Shaz Quigley and Dominic Webb (20) who is based with Dave and trained by Dave is in Arezzo, Italy as a member of Great Britains Young Riders team at the European Championships.

Good luck Dom and make sure you bring home a medal! 

Politics and country life

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rose and Owen

I am not interested in politics unless they affect my life and the news that Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has lost his job is not good for those who live in the countryside.

Owen understands country life and country people and I like many others, feel that he is one of the very few in the current Government that do!  He was prepared to stand up to all those who are 'Green' many of whom do not have a clue and live in a world where badgers and foxes are cuddly pets!

I believe Owen received a very warm welcome at the Game Fair at Blenheim on Friday and a long queue lined up to meet him and express their sympathy and outrage. The 12 million rural votes are now seriously under threat and I cannot see how the lady who grew up in Leeds - whose parents were both Labour Supporters can be seen by Mr Cameron as a suitable replacement?

I am biased as Owen and his wife Rose are friends of ours and were at our home the day before the announcement was made. Owen was brought up in the country and lives in a very rural area near to here. He follows or partakes in country pursuits and has first hand knowledge of many of the problems that he was brought in to solve. He was doing a very good job and will be greatly missed. Hopefully it will only be a matter of time before common sense prevails and he will be back where he belongs. 

Mirrors for Training

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hire a mirror from Mirrors for Training

Mirrors for Training is delighted to introduce a new service that allows riders to hire a Mirror On A Stand- ideal for those interested in arena mirrors but anxious about committing to permanent mirrors, or for show centres during the season.

“Our Mirrors On A Stand are ideal for those on a budget, for show centres and for people schooling on grass, in unfenced arenas,” says Andrea Miles from Mirrors for Training. “They’re also a great way to try a mirror before you buy, or address a schooling issue that’s a constant niggle, and that’s why we decided to offer these mirrors for hire, so people can give them a try at minimal cost. We’ve already had enquiries from competition venues about this idea, so we thought that we’d give everyone the opportunity to hire.”

Each Mirror On A Stand comes on a durable plastic coated steel frame. Made using 6mm Pilkington Opti-Mirror, the mirror offers an accurate, crisp, clear reflection for maximum benefit. Each mirror is manufactured to British standards and has impact absorbing cushioners as well as a layer of safety film over the glass, meaning that if the glass gets broken, it won’t shatter, it’ll stay within the frame.

To buy, a Mirror On A Stand is £696 (£580+VAT). To hire, the Mirror On A Stand costs £50 per week, with a £100 charge for delivery and £100 charge for collection. This offer is available to UK mainland only.

To find out more, see or call 01902 791207.

The height of summer competitions

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cinny and Mike after the prize giving

Flash floods have caused a certain amount of havoc at equestrian competitions during the past two weeks. The brilliance of a proper outdoor jumping surface was highlighted at The British Masters CSI 3* at Wettenhall when a serious storm broke over the show ground.The Charles Britton surface - looked after by the man himself - with stood the deluge. The show was stopped until the storm passed as the rain was so heavy that it resembled a very bad monsoon. But normal service was resumed in record time with 'the boss' knowing exactly what equipment to use to get the water away. All riders and horse competed safely and this was a perfect advertisement, if any was needed to endorse  a Charles Britton surface!

On Thursday last week my daughter Cinny judged the 'best turned out' at Ascot for the Long Harbour Handicap - a race sponsored by her husbands company on this Charity Race Day at Ascot. 

Cinny is not involved with horses at the present time BUT was brought up on the importance of turnout. As a teenager Cinny was an expert at plaiting tails and on the last day of the Cotswold Pony Club Camp - was kept very busy plaiting the tales of all her friends ponies!  All this knowledge came flooding back and coupled with knowing (through her father and I) what a fit racehorse should look like, she chose a horse trained by Mike Channon.  

Charles Barnett, Chief Executive of Royal Ascot then told Cinny that in this race the 'best turned out' seems to win - no pressure then - and sure enough it did at 14/1!  Cinny reminded CB that many years ago her brilliant 14.2 hands hunting pony - Rusty was bought by Georgina, wife of CB for their eldest daughter to hunt with the Wynnstay. - small world.  

Then the world was about to get even smaller as Mike Channon was tipped off by CB as to who was presenting the prize to him.  Mike has known Cinny for ages but had not seen her for many many years. He trained next door to Cinny's father - Mike at West Ilsley and James at Chilton -  before James moved to Yorkshire. In his footballing days with Southampton - he had a small stud very close to where we then lived and trained at Whitsbury and when Cinny and Clare were 5 and 6 we holidayed in Yarmouth with another family who are very close friends of his and one of the highlights was the free tickets Mike gave us all to watch him play for Norwich!

A trip down memory lane for us all! 

Wimbledon Men's final is epic

Monday, July 07, 2014

The view from our seats

Roger Federers twin daughters sitting above the big screen

John McEnroe with Jimmy Connors and Sue Barker

Our first ever visit to Wimbledon and what a match!  We arrived in good time and spent three hours having a really good look around before the Men's final started at 2.00 pm. I visited the Museum which was fascinating and I could have spent much longer there, if there had been more time.

Having never watched a 'live' match I was amazed by the sheer speed of play - much faster than it looks on the TV! The accuracy was remarkable, with the ball skimming the net, with very few errors. We had a pair of binoculars and the time between sets was spent 'celebrity' spotting and then finding ourselves standing beside the 'Middleton' family on the Members lawn after the match!

Going to Wimbledon has always been on my 'bucket list' and the whole experience was even better than I had imagined. Many thanks to Charlotte who gave us our tickets and is the wife of my first cousin Tim MacCaw. Charlotte is a very good tennis player in her own right and has been a Member of Wimbledon for 35 years. Her knowledge of the game is huge and she is still involved with the All England Tennis Club.

Our journey home went without a hitch - leaving Wimbledon at 7.15 p.m. we were home at 10.58 pm. with all Tubes and Trains running on time! So easy when it works and a perfect way to spend a day.

Meanwhile the Grand Prix at Southview CSI 3* was the highlight of this three day show and a win for David Simpson of Ireland.  The Motor Racing Grand Prix at Silverstone and a win for Lewis Hamilton with Jenson Button finishing 4th - his best result, from a poor season to date.

It is now Monday morning and the latest news from Skye who has just had a win on Catapult in today's five year old class. This lovely grey stallion has had three weeks off and this is his first show since his holiday. He is jumping again on Wednesday.   

Horse Power at Wimbledon

Saturday, July 05, 2014

We set off to London later on this afternoon as we have tickets for the Men's Final tomorrow. Nick and I have never been to Wimbledon, so watching the Men's final as our first ever live match is a good place to start!

I always try and look for a 'horsey angle' in everything that I write on this blog and sure enough a horse drawn steel roller was used on the courts at Wimbledon. 

The roller was only retired from service in 1986 and when it was pulled by a horse. the horse wore lawn boots to protect the grass!  

Here are my photos of the horse drawn roller which is now a Wimbledon landmark.  If you click on the 'horse power' photo you can read all about it!

Meanwhile a busy day at Southview CSI3* - the damp weather of yesterday did not spoil some top class show jumping. An early winner for Laura Renwick and the speedy Beluga got the show off to a good start.

The British Masters CSI 3*

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Skye and Cavalia 2013

The 4th annual British Masters CSI3* held at SouthView, Wettenhall Cheshire starts tomorrow and rumour has it that 2014 Hickstead Derby winner Adventure De Kannan and his rider Trevor Breen will be competing. This remarkable horse only has one eye having had his right eye removed last summer following an infection.

Talking of CSI3*'s - Skye ( click on her name for a link to her Skyline Ltd Facebook page) competed at Cantelau CSI3* last weekend and achieved 2 top 10 placings on Full Monty and Aresse M.

 She was then equal first on Monday in the six year old A class at Deauville with Ugo and Upsala. 

The talented five year old Catapult is having a short rest as he is now rated the 8th best in his age group in France and he and Skye are aiming for the Regionals and then the Finals for his age group. 

Skye won the six year old equivalent last year when producing Cavalia for Ashford Farm. Cavalia is now back at Ashford Farm and recently won the 6/7 year old Grand Prix at Rotterdam CSI5* ridden by their own rider the Brazilian, Marlon Zanotellie.

It is always very pleasing when young horses 'go on' and continue to be successful with other riders.  A job well done!

Heythrop Hunt Fair

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Serena is the rider in the tweed jacket and Jonjo is smiling

Claire Lomas

A very successful Heythrop Hunt Fair was held on Sunday and my roving reporter has sent me these photos.

The gate jumping competition resulted in a four way tie for first place with the gate at 1.65m. These are not professional show jumpers and neither are their horses - all the more reason for being very impressed. One of the joint winners was Jonjo - (Next Optimist) - produced locally as a five year old by Toni Potts for Sallie Cooper and then sold via Nicolette Gidley Wright to his current owner Serena Norton who has had him ever since. JJ is now in his mid teens and rather enjoys trying something new!

Claire Lomas won the Donkey Derby - a remarkable achievement as Claire is paralysed from the waist down as a result of a freak accident at Osberton Horse Trials in 2007. 

Claire completed the 2012 London Marathon wearing a ReWalk robotic suit and became the first paraplegic to do so. Clare took 17 days to do this and raised £210,00 for Spinal Research - respect. 

Congratulations to Sarah Bullimore and Valentino V for their Nations Cup debut in Strzegom Poland last week end where they were part of the GB team that finished second to Germany. Valentino V had a horrible fall at Badminton and it is good to see that he is now back to his best. Regular readers will know of my early involvement with Valentino V and how I love to follow his career.