Blenheim International 16th September

Tom and Strike Smartly  (Paddy) jumped a great round in the main arena in the morning to just add 4 faults to their dressage score although Tom would have been happier with a clear!  He blamed always.. but it was a huge improvement on the round he jumped last year before he came to Tom and he does now look like a reliably careful horse.

It was a long wait until the cross country started at 3pm and we spent a fair chunk of it watching the CCI 3 star cross country and pointing out all the things that were wrong with the Blenheim organisation!  The canteen used to be only open for random hours but putting up a tent and shoving a coffee stand and a burger stand on one side of it hardly measures up to the standard expected of an international event.  The car passes this year were labelled “Athletes and Owners” which was a joke…maybe some healthy food options might be nice for the “Athletes”! Riders and owners were not even entitled to free water let alone tea or coffee and the attitude all week was mostly ” No, Health and Safety first”.  They blocked off the route to the owners and riders car park at 9.30 am as they decided it was too risky for cars to drive past pedestrians ( who are not normally known for throwing themselves randomly under the wheels of cars) and that left people stuck in public car parks with no access to the buggys and not happy at all!

Tom was well aware of the problems at the brush arrowhead out of the coffin as he had walked down to it to see the first few go.  He and Paddy looked seriously impressive through all the combinations and they were galloping strongly when they were one of what Tom described as “too many” good partnerships to fall foul of the arrowhead.  They completed without further incident but Tom was not a happy bunny! He commented that you had to question a fence that caught out too many good horses and that it was out of context with the rest of the course. He felt that the bolder the horse the bigger the problem… the ones that slithered over the vertical and were not brave to the ditch seemed to get through whilst the good forward and brave horses got punished.

The upshot of the day was that Tom and Paddy both finished well and they now head out to Boekelo as one of the Team GB riders picked to go one of the most popular events on the circuit.

GBR-Tom McEwen rides Strike Smartly during the Event Rider Masters CIC3* Cross Country. 2017 GBR-SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trial. Saturday 16 September. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography