J/ September 11, 2018/ Blog

The Dublin Show was as wonderful as ever. It was made more special by having fantastic company to share it with. We watched the Nations Cup, seeing the trophy carried off by a deserving and very excited Mexican Team. Trump is going to have to build his wall higher , because boy those riders can jump!

Unwilling to leave the fun of the show we stayed long after the main crowds had gone to watch the pony finals, seeing an incredible partnership in the 12.2 class gallop around the course, skimming over the fences as if they were irrelevent.

I’d have thought the show was hard to cap until I went to watch the International Horse Trails at Millstreet. My 530 am start was not something I relished, nor was the complete lack of any road signs to direct me into the horse trails, but when I finally made it, gosh was it worth it.

In England, where I am from every event is signposted from miles away. Stewards are on hand close to the venue to make sure everyone finds their way. Millstreet was the opposite. I got to Millstreet easily enough but then found the town filled with cars driving aimlessly around, reversing in driveways their driver’s completely lost. Eventually I found my way in to a virtually deserted car park.  I wandered into the grounds, helped myself to a program and found the lorry park, rows and rows of lorries from Ireland, the UK and beyond. In the distance I could hear a tannoy, so I knew the event was on, but couldn’t see any horses or riders anywhere.

Thank goodness I’m a girl and don’t have that awful male disease of not asking for directions. I was soon on my way to the right place, walking through the showground, out onto a road and up a long track. And there it was. Beautiful parkland dotted with trees and jumps. Oh boy what jumps, massive solid obstacles I’d have no more jumped than I would fly.

My entrance was well timed, for the Nations Cup of eventing was about to start. Teams from England, France and Ireland were competing for the title over a CCI 3 star course.

This level in England would attract a large number of spectators, here I had the place virtually to myself. I walked the course, watching a rider jump at every obstacle. The Irish bank caught out many of the horses and riders. I’d imagine there’d be a lot who would be considering a seasons hunting in Ireland to help their horses find that essential fifth leg. Sam Griffiths, a seasoned campaigner and past Burghley winner produced a spectacular jump, his horse misjudging what was needed on the bank ended up belly flopping on the obstacle, skidding off it sending his rider sprawling up his neck. As if that wasn’t enough of a problem the next fence, an angled brush was literally a few strides away. Amazingly the horse jumped with Sam around his neck and amazingly Sam stuck on and got back into position to carry on.

The course was fabulous, a testiment to the skill of Mike Etherington Smith. There were some big questions for the horses and riders which produced some thrilling near misses and incredible riding. The mountains in the distance were the perfect backdrop for the course.

I watched William Fox Pitt tackle one of the water complexes.  I stood beside the roped barrier with a photographer, a man and his daughter. Next week at Burghley it will be nearly impossible to see the fence let alone get close to it because of the amount of spectators.

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