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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.     

Bolesworth on TV

Monday, June 30, 2014

For those of you who were unable to get to Bolesworth CSI3* there is a chance to watch some of the highlights on TV over the next few weeks. Please click on the flyer on the right hand side which has all the viewing times.

Here is a very good promotional video...

The show was so successful that plans are in the pipeline to upgrade it to a CSI4* next year. In order to do this, certain improvements need to be made and so Nina Barbour and her team have taken the bold decision to cancel the proposed show in September in order to build for the future. Nina and her team deserve full credit for taking this route 'in the pursuit of excellence' which just happens to be the phrase that she uses for another of her projects, namely Harthill Stud. This is a case of practicing what you preach and fortune favors the bold! 

One of the regions of concern at Bolesworth was the drainage in the stabling area and this can now be done sooner rather than later in order to be ready in time for 2015. A change of date means that next year Bolesworth will take place the week before Hickstead and will mean that International riders will now have two International 4* shows on consecutive weeks making the journey and travel costs from Europe and beyond, to the UK even more cost effective. 

Exciting times ahead and a chance for show jumping in the UK to increase its profile. Surely the Hickstead meeting will also benefit from this as yesterdays Derby seemed to be lacking in top class riders from both home and abroad. Last year, when a Nations Cup was held at Hickstead the standard appeared to be much higher. 

I have always said that there is no need to keep moving the goal posts in order to achieve a result and yet again the Hickstead Jumping Derby proved this. The course has been the same for 50 odd years - no clear rounds this year with a jump off between two on four faults! The 'equine' is NOT improving as an athlete so why make courses harder?

Perhaps all those who course build for the cross country phase of Eventing should take note!     

Congratulations to my old friend Charlie Brooks and his wife Rebekah for being proved innocent. Charlie and I shared a desk when he was Assistant Trainer, and I was Assistant Trainers Secretary to the late great National Hunt trainer Fred Winter. I saw Charlie at Cheltenham Races the day after they had both been arrested in the early hours of the morning two or was it three years ago. My first question to Charlie  was - are you innocent?. Yes, was the answer and I never doubted him for one minute - but how on earth could they prove it - and now they have!   

A few days away

Friday, June 27, 2014

My finger encased in blue foam

I have been unexpectedly out of action! I had a sore finger for 6 weeks and it was gradually getting worse. 

I tried soaking my finger in salt and water, applying a Manuka honey poultice and also Animalintex with a Vetrap bandage! Two, week long courses of antibiotics did not appear to have any effect either and the throbbing continued. A third visit to our local surgery gave me choices of a six week wait to see a specialist - or speeding up this process by using private healthcare, which I have.  I opted for the latter but that entailed a four day wait for an appointment and then a possible one to two weeks before anything was done. This was also too long as the pain was bad, so I set off to A and E thinking that if I went in the day time there would be less of a queue!  I arrived at the Countess of Chester A and E on the morning of Monday 23rd June.

A and E were very good indeed. In a nut shell - I had a chronic infection - an X Ray revealed that the infection had caused 30% of the bone in the top of my index finger to disappear. The plastic surgeon operated on me straight away for debridement and a wash out of the infection which he thought may have got into my bloodstream or into my bones. Lots of intravenous antibiotics followed and I was allowed home 4 days later. A visit to the Countess on 30th June showed that the test to see if my bone had been infected was negative and so the pressure from the infection in my finger had caused the bone in my finger to dissolve rather than the finger being 'eaten' by a bone infection. No wonder it hurt!

The upshot means that I am now on very strong oral antibiotics rather than on a drip for six weeks - much better! Sadly, my finger will never fully recover as there is permanent damage to nerve endings and the bone will not grow back! I am still bandaged up and office work is tricky as the finger has to be in a sling to keep it upright to stop it swelling.  What a performance and the plastic surgeon and nurses all told me I was very lucky.

Lesson learnt? - very much so - firstly if you have throbbing pain over a period of time it is normally caused by an acute infection so you need to act quickly. Secondly - follow your gut feeling and be assertive as if I had waited for an appointment I could now have a life threatening blood infection.

Mother and daughter

Friday, June 20, 2014

A lovely video of  Skye's boss and her daughter to promote Penelope's clothing range. Skye wears this range and the show jackets and causal wear are all stunning and very stylish in an effortless French 'chic' sort of way!

Skye's boss continues her brilliant form with a big win at Cannes CSI5* last weekend and today she is representing France in their Nations Cup team in the CHIO5* in Rotterdam. France currently lead the 2014 Nations Cup table and a big result today would consolidate their position. Having such a strong team of horses capable of jumping at 5* level week after week is a huge accomplishment and the behind the scenes work in keeping them at this level cannot be underestimated.  

The feedback from Bolesworth CSI3* continues to be very positive and the Show is now in a perfect position to build on their success. Great momentum, in all aspects has now been generated and a very good crowd were there as well. So often equestrian events do not have crowd support - but Bolesworth are different in this respect.   

Blessed with good weather

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The International Arena

The hospitality tent and moat in the foreground

Four days of excellent show jumping at Bolesworth CSI3* and the weather stayed fine. Sunday saw huge crowds enjoying the Trade Stands, Camel racing, Ben Potter Birds of Prey Display, Polly's Parrot Show, Magical Punch and Judy, Newfoundland Rescue Dogs, Flyball Dog Display and last but not least a thrilling 1.55m Grand Prix won by William Whitaker!

I believe the concert by 'Blue' - on Friday night was voted a success and the after party even more so! 

Call me old fashioned but I could not understand why Callum Best was there and seemed to 'get in' on rather too many photos? His only and dubious claim to fame is being the son of George Best and surely he lowered rather than raised the profile of Bolesworth. Entries on social media sites started to refer to Bolesworth MD Nina and her younger sister Cleo as the Barbour 'babes' - this word is more often used when describing a topless model on Page 3 of The Sun. 

Surely this hugely impressive Show needs to distance itself from these hangers on? It is already doing a very good job in attracting Show Jumpings 'elite' in terms of owners, sponsors and competitors. This knock on effect will mean that everyone attending needs to raise their game - not lower it. Therefore it is not necessary to associate with a bunch of B list celebrities to enhance the shows profile. Bolesworth has a very special USP (unique selling point) and could easily be too show jumping what Badminton and Burghley are too eventing.   

On Friday evening whilst sitting in our garden  we were able to hear music from Blue and also Status Quo (legends) - who were performing at nearby Cholmondeley Castle on the same evening as part of their Pageant of Power event. A real feast of entertainment and a shame they clashed as each must have detracted from the other, being only a few miles apart. 

Please do not think that I was not hugely impressed by Bolesworth and all the hard work put in by Show Director Alan Beaumont the Team in general and the vision of Nina Barbour. We really enjoyed ourselves and are already looking forward to next year!  Well done to them all and a big THANK YOU.